Tommy Bryne in his back garden. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

'I had a stroke over this place in 2016… The stress of it. No one was helping us'

Patrick Freyne sharpens his knife skills on the  ‘essence of survival’ course at the Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig, Co Wexford.  Photograph: Patrick Browne

You must slow down to nature’s pace, be able to make fire, and be prepared to eat anything

Sexy Beasts: James, who goes on a date with a drone-flying zombie, an ex-army pixie and a songwriting leopard

You’ll either hate Sexy Beasts, Netflix’s new dating show, or like it so much it disturbs you

Pure Grit: ‘It’s very scary. They’re really wild horses. And Sharmaine is tiny,’ says film-maker Kim Bartley

Kim Bartley’s film Pure Grit tells the moving story of Indian relay racer Sharmaine Weed

From left to right: Selina Xu, Emily Murray Nelson, Joe Reidy, Louí Montague, Michael Lavery, Aisling Murphy, Éadaoin O’Neill and Ray McHallem outside the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Photograph: Damien Eagers

Writers from Fighting Words programme meet for first time as their plays grace the stage

Adam Demos as Brad Simon in Netflix’s Sex/Life. Photograph: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

Patrick Freyne: I live in hope that there’s a cameo from the real Billy Connolly

Students from Coláiste Uí Chadhain Irish College near Baile Na hAbhann, Co Galway, practice their singing for the houses competition. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Irish college may be cancelled this year but it’s an experience that never changes. Ever.

Richard Curran: we meet him on the grounds of a stately home over which he presides dressed in a nice suit

Patrick Freyne: I get why people want to be a bit rich: poverty sucks. But why Rich-List rich?

Irish youth workers have banded together to seek an end to drug prohibition to remove criminal risk from users

The hunks and hunkettes of Love Island 2021. Photograph: ITV

Patrick Freyne: Is the reality show giving young people unrealistic ideas? I wouldn’t say so

The G7 should have had a plan to vaccinate the world, says  former British prime minister Gordon Brown Photograph:  Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The former British prime minister spoke to Fintan O’Toole at the Irish Times Summer Nights Festival

Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy involves a man who savours his words almost as much as he savours his food. Photograph:  CNN

Patrick Freyne: A US celeb says he likes our favourite butter? Make him president

Theatregoers Phyl O’Farrell, Rian O’Farrell and Fay O’Farrell from Walkinstown, Dublin looking forward to the Abbey show on Monday evening. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Live audience returns for the first time in 15 months, to see new play by Úna McKevitt

Some of the young stars of Our Town: ‘You’ve got working-class Bray. You’ve got middle-class Bray... It’s in the shadow of Dublin, so it has this identity thing.’ Photograph: Arthur Janowsky

A new TV series, Our Town, follows a diverse group of young people with big dreams

GB News: Dan Wootton, Andrew Neil and Michelle Dewberry

Patrick Freyne: Dan Wootton and Andrew Neil are the stars of this sort of Fox News UK

Anti-vaxxers: an Irish Freedom Party protester outside Custom House in Dublin in November 2020. Photograph: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty

Anti-vax sentiment is strong among people who rely on social media for most of their news

Marvel mischief: Tom Hiddleston as Loki

Patrick Freyne: Loki entertains, but soon all art will be sucked into the Marvel Cinematic Universe

James Vincent McMorrow on stage at the Iveagh Gardens. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times

‘I cried on the Luas on the way in,’ says one gig-goer, as live music returns to Ireland

Martyn Turner in his studio in Co Kildare. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill. Background: Martyn Turner

The Irish Times satirist on the X case cartoon, those worms and his inability to draw

In David O’Doherty’s new book a greedy developer gets his comeuppance when  some children rob a bank. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw / The Irish Times

The comedian on podcasting from Achill, his new children’s book, and comedy culture

Your Home Made Perfect: Angela Scanlon’s job in the short term is to be a likable Flava Flav-like hypewoman for the concept of architecture

Patrick Freyne: Ireland was wise to send the host to infiltrate their property industry. I trust her

Royal baby: Prince Archie with his parents, Meghan and Harry. Photograph: Shutterstock/Channel 4

Patrick Freyne: Royalty takes a lot of interpreting. Luckily, The Irish Times has me

Michael Lewis, the bestselling author, in his writing cottage in Berkeley, California. Photograph: Peter Prato/The New York Times

In his new book the Moneyball and Big Short author tackles the US response to Covid-19

Garth Brooks at Croke Park: Dubliners banned his concerts and built a big wall around the capital. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Patrick Freyne: 2014 was so awful … Thankfully everything’s perfect now in 2021

The CSO Irish Health Survey 2019, published last December, found that there were more than half a million family carers in the country.

At some point we all need care. Why is it so undervalued?

Star Wars: Emperor Palpatine cheers up the troops in The Bad Batch

I’d like to see a David Simon-helmed show dealing with galactic housing policy

King Lear in  a Van: Arthur Riordan in the title role. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

King Lear in a Van is a clever way of bringing theatre and drama to the masses

Being homeless during the pandemic has meant increased isolation and loneliness

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Patrick Freyne: Medical soaps do what prestige telly does, just backwards and in scrubs

Iarnród Enda: Enda Kenny could bicycle up your lane any day now offering to taoiseach for a nice pie. Photograph: Mike Mulcaire/RTÉ

Patrick Freyne: The former taoiseach looks well in retirement, face ruddy, rusty locks flowing

He's no longer just a comedian and radio host, but an author and meditation coach too

Host Paddy McGuinness on I Can See Your Voice. File photograph: Tom Dymond

Patrick Freyne: Paddy McGuinness is the lord of shiny-floor gameshows

One conspiracy inevitably leads to another, and ultimately ends with a belief that everything is orchestrated by a shadowy cabal involving the Illuminati, or lizard people or, frequently, if they are anti-Semitic, “the Jews”

Mocking conspiracy theories is tempting but it doesn’t work. To change minds you must challenge

Sean McKenna and Charles and Andrew Hendy of The  Mary Wallopers in the cottage/barn near Dundalk where they live and run traditional music Youtube gigs. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The Dundalk ballad band are tapping into the political power of folk, punk and hip-hop

‘I was following you Hugh Wallace. Give me that chicken leg and we’ll camp for the night. We’ll set out again at daylight when it’s safe.’ Photograph: Ruth Medjber

Patrick Freyne: In Home of the Year, Dublin aesthetes judge folk from the cultureless provinces

Author Rónán Hession wrote Leonard and Hungry Paul in 2017  in the evenings when his children were in bed. Photograph: Tom Honan / The Irish Times

Author of Leonard and Hungry Paul talks about music, small publishers and working as a civil servant

Dragons’ Den, BBC, series 18: Dragons: Touker Suleyman, Sara Davies, Deborah Meaden, Tej Lalvani, andPeter Jones. Photograph: BBC, Andrew Farrington

Patrick Freyne: Dragons’ Den is still on, a contender for longest running show on TV

Psychotherapist Maura Davis: ‘The uncertainty means people have more time at home to ruminate and overthink and go around in circles. People are lonely and isolated.’ Photograph: iStock

Prolonged lockdown causing anxiety and frustration, psychotherapists say

The Cork singer-songwriter has been writing songs to order, like an old-style bard

The Wall: Danny Dyer with contestants Aoife and Paul. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC

I’d watch The Wall host in anything, though. Cast him in your prestigious HBO drama, you cowards

Melanie Reis and Patrick Holohan on their wedding day at the Dublin Registry Office. Photograph: Enda O’Dowd

Covid restrictions mean only six can attend – including the bride and groom

 Patrick Freyne was taking time to talk to people around the city centre. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Patrick Freyne meets the people who now inhabit Dublin’s ‘sad but beautiful’ centre

The Today Show’s St Patrick’s Day Special, with Dáithí Ó Sé, is a national treasure chest of an episode

Patrick Freyne: That’s how I imagine him, anyhow. He’s almost as compelling as The Circle

 Fontaines DC: “Bohs are an organisation that really care about the community . . . Having a Dublin football team having ‘Refugees Welcome’ be the biggest thing on their shirt, that’s amazing,” says drummer Tom Coll.

A football club and rock band join forces: ‘Homelessness can’t be something we accept’

Jess Kavanagh listens respectfully to Alan McGarry on Eating with the Enemy. Photograph: Virgin Media Television

Patrick Freyne: Eating with the Enemy is a televisual response to our endless opinionising

Oprah with Meghan and Harry: the couple are charming, clever and good at being celebrities. Photograph: Joe Pugliese/Harpo via AP

Patrick Freyne: After Harry and Meghan, the monarchy looks archaic and racist. Well duh

‘I’ve never done live stuff ever. It absolutely terrifies me. The idea of being heckled, I think, scares me more than anything else.’ Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The online comedian on stage fright, indie bands and why Navan isn’t a funny town

Gordon Ramsay now hosts 50 per cent of all programmes on television. Photographer: Mark Johnson

Patrick Freyne: This show's name – Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance – hints at why he’s doing it

Tribes of Europa. Photograph: Gordon Timpen/Netflix

Disagree with Tribes of Europa’s Crows? This is Project Fear talking. You just hate freedom

Devils: ostensibly critical of rich-folk shenanigans but also completely seduced by them. Photograph: Antonello & Monte/Sky

Devils delves into the dull swamp of wealth, sharp suits and plush but soulless offices

One man says his conversations with his partner are now normally ‘pretty deep’. Illustration: Ada daSilva/Getty

Divorce applications have risen, lawyers say, but many relationships have never been better

Married at First Sight Australia: Ning and Mark

Patrick Freyne: I hope your love is as enduring as that on Married at First Sight Australia

The boy’s coffin arrived in a white horse-drawn hearse. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Priest spoke of ‘dark cloud’ over community when news of boy’s death reached them

Fate: The Winx Saga – seeing a bunch of English-accented people living in an Irish stately home is quite triggering for me

Patrick Freyne: If this makes me a ‘snowflake’, I might fit right into Fate: The Winx Saga

Liv O’Donoghue, member of the steering group on the National Campaign for the Arts. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Dublin city centre: If we want a vibrant creative life in our capital, we need to change how we support artists

Múinteoir Ray Cuiddihy. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Makers and múinteoirí of RTÉ’s homeschool programme on teaching through the pandemic

Ireland’s Fittest Family: the Kulczynski family. from Co Clare, take part in the Bog Bath challenge

Patrick Freyne: Are we not all, in a very real way, clinging on for dear life during lockdown?

Blindboy Boatclub:  He calls the choice to wear a bag as “establishing consent around the data of my face”. Photograph: Alan Place.

Mask-wearing podcaster and author is first guest at the Irish Times Winter Nights Festival

Jen Ronan pictured in Limerick. Photograph: Diarmuid Greene

A ‘tsunami of mental health need’ will follow Covid-19. The already inadequate system will struggle to cope

Bling Empire: Kelly Mi Li. Photograph: Netflix

Patrick Freyne: Netflix’s hit takes two random words and reverse-engineers a show from the result

Oh, Rob

Patrick Freyne: The RTÉ dating show will have Sigmund Freud weeping in hell

WandaVision on Disney+: Essentially, you can make any sort of story you want nowadays as long as it’s filtered through the medium of superheroes. Photograph: Disney

Small-screen highlights in case telly remains as important as it was last year

Z Nation: putting the fun back into the undead

Z Nation, The Monkees, Buffy and 2000AD are fine examples of brilliance by stealth

Thin Lizzy: Phil Lynott with Brian Downey and Gary Moore in 1974. Photograph: Michael Putland/Getty

In Songs for While I’m Away, Emer Reynolds shows the Thin Lizzy star in a new light

Meet the people who have made a big difference to others in this strange, tough coronavirus year

Normal People’s Marianne (Daisy Edgar Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal). Photograph: Enda Bowe/ Element Pictures

In a year when TV had a lot of heavy lifting to do, let's celebrate some small screen highlights

Karen Whooley teaching sixth-class students at St Audoen’s National School in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Pupils and students around Ireland, and their teachers, on learning in Covid-19’s shadow

From left, 3rd-year students Eoin Lait, Jed Grzechowiak, Daniel Hayes, Aoife O’Dowd, Billy Murphy, Kayleigh Redmond Tomkins and Conor Read. Photograph: Mary Browne

Gorey Community School students and staff on managing exams, masks and ‘Covid police’

Moore St. Dublin 1972

Michael Foley uploaded beautiful old photos of Moore Street fruit and veg traders and their customers to Facebook in 2019

Wham’s Last Christmas video: my template for what successful adulthood looked like when I was a child

Wham, Shaky v Noddy, Chris Rea v traffic: Patrick Freyne analyses some Christmas classics

“Harrison, like other commentators, sees a reality television aesthetic at work in the personae of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump . . . Johnson thrived on Have I Got News for You.”

Book review: Phil Harrison’s zippy analysis needs to make a more robust argument about Britain

Patrick Freyne: Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square just has to be authentic. Surely

Photograph: Holly Hildreth/Moment/Getty

Dogs Trust and DSPCA report a huge jump in rehoming inquiries during the pandemic

The Princess Switch: Switched Again. Vanessa Hudgens as Stacy/Margaret/Fiona

Vanessa Hudgens reswaps relationships in The Princess Switch: Switched Again

 Patrick Freyne tries out an electric scooter from Dublin company Lifty. ‘It’s pretty easy to use the scooter, though any bumps in the road cause significant turbulence,’ he says. Photograph by Crispin Rodwell

Sales have soared as we seek alternatives to public transport. Pity they’re illegal

In a time of plague, it makes sense to me that Ant and Dec would hole up with a pile of celebrities in an old medieval castle waiting it all out. Photograph: ITV

Once we wanted our celebs glamorous. Now we want them crying on I’m a Celebrity

Photograph: John Lewis and Partners/PA

Patrick Freyne: There’s nude pigeons, flying snow people, heart-shaped haircuts – and a broken time-space continuum

Nigella Lawson in Nigella’s Cook, Eat, Repeat: My favourite of her food plays/food lies was ‘fish finger bhorta’ starring my favourite food actor, ‘fish fingers’. Photograph:  Jay Brookes

Here's the thing, herbs and spices are costumes. Rice and pasta are ‘extras’. Bowls and plates are sets. Chicken is the lead chara(...)

Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan in Wild Mountain Thyme

Here’s seven of the best Oirish films including a soulful hunky IRA man, and a corned beef and cabbage plot

Chairman: Ray D’Arcy. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

The broadcaster says his working-class roots make him crave security and fear failure

Don’t Rock the Boat contestants Jodie Kidd, Craig Charles, Adam Thomas, Fleur East, Victoria Pendleton and Tom Watson. Photograph: Jon Hall/ITV

A more apt title for new reality show Don’t Rock the Boat would be Celebrity S**t in a Bucket

“Enter the Cube! at your own risk: Philip Schofield on The Million Pound Cube. Photograph: ITV

Patrick Freyne: it’s amazing how mundane tasks can be enlivened by a time limit and dramatic music

Dermot Bannon at home in Drumcondra with his cast-iron outdoor bath. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

The TV presenter on his first steps in architecture and new series of Incredible Homes

Lily Collins in Emily in Paris: pretty hard to stop watching

Patrick Freyne: Frenchies are depicted as smelly, sex-obsessed, work-shy and nude

Lucy Kennedy and Adele King aka Twink, with her shoulder-cockatiel

Adele King, with an actual cockatiel on her shoulder and a terrier called Teddy Bear, lodges with Lucy Kennedy

Roddy Doyle: “Slagging is virtually always very affectionate.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/ The Irish Times

He knew this because, when he started writing The Commitments, he knew it was good

Top Gear: isn’t quite working

Patrick Freyne: Freddie Flintoff and the Top Gear presenters still feel like they’re on an awkward team building weekend

Tom Curran and his partner Marie Fleming, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, leaving the Four Courts in 2013 after Fleming lost her case to be allowed to die with dignity.  Photograph: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The public view on this controversial issue seems to be changing. But should the law?

The dayglo quartet: Matt, Noel, Paul and Prue.  Much has changed since the early days of The Great British Bake Off. Paul Hollywood’s hair, for one, has  become even more eye-burningly white, the whitest white you have ever seen.

Patrick Freyne: Paul Hollywood has emerged from slumber and is hungry for power – and cakes

Michael Harding lives on the border between Co Roscommon and Co Leitrim, having bought the land 25 years ago. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The author on the poetry of religion and the heart attack that gave him a lift

Matthew Malone in Fishamble’s Embargo, part of the Dublin Theatre Festival

Deirdre Kinahan on her site-specific play about the 1920 munitions strike

Fiona Bruce flies a Spitfire over Kent in a Pathé newsreel from the future. Or maybe it’s just the Antiques Roadshow. Photograph: BBC

Patrick Freyne: Antiques Roadshow delves in second World War jingoism while cats plan our demise

High tea with the richest kings of Europe?

Patrick Freyne: What constitutes a ‘simple comfort’ in Mary Berry’s world?

‘Where’s the nearest buffet?’ Holliday Grainger and Tom Burke in Strike: Lethal White

Patrick Freyne: Luckily, JK Rowling’s smouldering detective and sidekick are distracted by a new case

‘We had one bandmate who would climb the walls and leap into the crowd when boozed up’

The rock music industry has long doubled as an efficient alcohol distribution mechanism

Mick Egan, who is to retire from Rade, the arts organisation working with addicts, at its premises in Dublin. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan

As he retires, Mick Egan looks back at 30 years working with addicts in art and drama

Singer Mary Coughlan at home in Wicklow for magazine feature. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Through addiction, infidelity and other life struggles, music was her constant escape

 State witness Joseph O’Callaghan and his mother Mary. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell/The Irish Times

Joseph O’Callaghan fears being shot, but he doesn’t regret testifying in a murder case

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