Mayo V Kerry, August 24th, 2014.

It’s a Sunday afternoon in August, in Ireland. The summer heat has dissipated as it nears the beginning of a new school term. The rain is getting ready to settle in, and the All-Ireland Semi-Finals have begun. Today it’s Mayo and Kerry. Kick off at 3.30. I’m at home in Galway for the weekend, booked on a Citylink back to Dublin at 6.15, and with a couple of things to buy in town, I’ll only catch the first half hour. Dad is settled in the sitting-room and is my only source of commentary as I rush about, packing clothes, and everything else I left until the last minute. I crane my head in every now and again as I hear the roars from the crowd. Especially when Lee Keegan is sent off with a red card, in the first controversial moment of the game. Half time arrives, and as I leave the house I call back to Dad to keep me updated on the score.

Later, as I’m making my through the Galway Shopping Center, I notice a crowd. I curiously gaze over, and realise that they’re all glued to a tv screen. An employee from a Sky on Demand stall had switched on the game. I rush over to catch up on the action.

Mayo are now in the lead with a goal and a point, and roughly four minutes to go. They’re defending with all that they have, and then suddenly, a goal for Kerry. The reaction from the crowd begins to attract the attention of others passing by, and our group increases, as people abandon their shopping, all wanting to catch the last few minutes.

Back at Croke Park, Mayo are trying everything to hold onto the ball. Kerry’s Eamonn Fitz is pacing up and down the sideline as the camera pans over the anxious faces, young and old, sitting in the crowd. Only one point separates the two teams as the game enters injury time, and then Kieran O’Leary puts one over the bar. It’s level once again. Voices rise around me as the clock ticks on. And then, following a mistake from Mayo, James O’Donoghue stands up to take the winning shot for Kerry. This is it. And as we stand there, watching and waiting to see if it’ll be the men from Munster making the trip back to Dublin in September, it doesn’t matter which county you’re from. It’s Sunday, in August, in Ireland, and the All-Ireland Semi-Finals are on. You can spare the last few minutes to see it out. And the other 70 odd minutes when they do it all over again next Saturday.

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An interview with boxer, Kieran Molloy (March, 2014).

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Kieran Molloy is a member of the Oughterard Boxing Club. At fifteen, he has a Bronze Medal from the AIBA World Junior Championships, and recently won the 2014 60Kg Connacht Title. I met Kieran in the lead up to the All Ireland Boxing Championships in Dublin (At the time of publishing, he had secured his spot in the Final).

How did you first get interested in boxing?

When I was younger, I used to watch my brothers box. One day, when I was about six years old, Raymond Lee asked me to join in. I enjoyed doing it, and so I kept it up! That was it.

Do you remember your first fight?

I was training for three years, and had my first exhibition when I was nine. It was in the Oughterard Community Center, against a ten year old from Tuam. They said they saw something in me that day, that I was good, and told me to stick at it. They said I could be Irish Champion!

And so you were hooked after that?

I couldn’t stop.

You’re also a Junior Cert student in St. Paul’s Secondary School. How do you juggle school and boxing?

If there’s boxing coming up, boxing will always come first. But, I still go to school five days a week, unless I’m going to a training camp, or fighting on a school day.

What’s a typical day for you coming up to a competition?

In the mornings I do a three mile jog before school. After school I come home, get something to eat, and then come down to the boxing club around 7pm for a couple of hours. I do pad work, shadow boxing, skipping, and speed work on my feet. I also go to the gym two days a week in the Kingfisher at NUIG, where I work on strength and conditioning.

You won a Bronze medal in the AIBA World Junior Championships. I know that you sustained a leg injury that forced you to bow out in the Semi-Final. That must have been difficult.

Yeah, it was. I got injured about forty seconds into the first round. Going out there I was thinking, “It would be brilliant if I could win a fight out here”, because I was giving away a year in age (Kieran, at fourteen, was one of the youngest athletes competing).

I won my first fight, and I could see that I was in with a chance of getting a medal in the competition. In the second fight, I fought the Korean champion, and he was really tough. I won that unanimously. Then, in the Quarter-Finals, I was fighting for a medal, and from what I could see of the Australian, he was tough, but I knew that I could beat him. I fought well that day and won that unanimously as well. I was fighting a European Silver Medalist in the Semi-Finals, the Moldovan boxer. He had a really good record. After that fight then, when I got injured, he went off to the Europeans two months later, and he won. I think I would have beat him. I was about a point up in the fight. But it was a brilliant experience.

Was there a lot of support from the community?

Yeah. When I got back, there was a big crowd organised at the boxing club, and they had a reception up in the Boat Inn for me. Even when I was out there, I’d go on Facebook, and there were so many notifications and messages. I didn’t have much time to read them because I was focusing on the boxing but the support was brilliant.

What’s next for you? 

The All-Irelands are on the fourth of April in Dublin. If I win that, then I’m guaranteed my spot on the Irish team. There’ll probably be a few Internationals coming up too.

And long-term? As a senior boxer?

When I’m nineteen, I’ll go for my first senior title. I want to be Senior Champion by the time I’m twenty. I’ll be fighting lads a lot older, but the way I’m going now, I think it’s possible. My biggest aim would be the Olympics. If I do good there, I’ll definitely turn professional after that.

Any advice for the young boxers out there?

If they just keep training hard, they’ll get their awards from it. But they have to make the sacrifices too.

And finally, who is your inspiration?

Ever since I was younger, I looked up to, and heard about, Thomas and Marvin Lee. They were probably the two best boxers that came out of the Oughterard Boxing club. Marvin had two European Bronze medals, and five Irish titles. Thomas had nine Irish titles. The two of them got into Senior finals. I’ve always looked up to them. Hopefully, some day, I’ll win the Senior title and have a good record as well.

Thanks to Kieran for answering my questions.

You can keep up with the Oughterard Boxing Club’s news and events via their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/oughterard.bc

Flashback : Musings on a football match.

That sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach was one felt by many Irish football fans before kick-off last night. There was that dangerous optimism that Ireland would deliver something special. It was their last chance to make it through the group stages of the Euros 2012, something never achieved by an Irish team before.

As Amhran na bhFiann rang out around the stadium the camera caught the faces of the many young Irish lads who had made the trip to Poland hoping to see their team achieve success. As the game began, one commentator made it clear ‘the pressure was on’. Spain were in control from the start as ‘You’ll Never Beat the Irish’ rang around the stadium. A great save from Dunne lifted the Irish crowd but they were quickly silenced with Torres’ goal in only the fourth minute. The reactions of pure frustration and devastation shown on the faces of Dunne and Given were understood and similarly felt by the Irish fans. The Spanish coninued to take shots at goal, leaving us all breathless, in fear of a second goal. The crowd all the time growing more anxious, searching for a reason to have their voices heard. A much needed chance to relax was awarded with the arrival of half time.

As the second half commences there is still hope that Ireland will deliver. But Silva’s goal breaks Irish hearts as you feel it’s all over – with 41 minutes to go. Silence from Irish supporters as the Spanish voices are the only ones heard in Poland. They steal possession over and over, running circles around the boys in green. Devastation comes with Torres’ second goal and then the fourth for Spain by Fabregas. It is most definitely over.

With the final whistle you can barely watch as the Irish team congratulate their rivals, but you stay to watch and listen to the Irish crowd raise their voices in support of their team. Their support is most definitely something to be proud of. All the same, it would have been a lot sweeter to hear their voices ring out as an answer to victory rather than defeat.

An interview with Oughterard’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee member, Nuala Joyce (March, 2014).

Shortly after the St. Patrick’s Day parade, I met with committee member Nuala Joyce to ask her a few questions….

How did you initially get involved with the St. Patrick’s Day parade committee?

Accidentally! I was involved with the social club in the factory at the time, when Aidan Murphy decided to start the parade. He called all of the committees and organisations in the town and invited them to come to a meeting in the Corrib Hotel. They got a letter at the factory, and the committee said to me, “Are you doing anything on a Tuesday night? Would you go to this meeting?”. So, that’s how I got involved. Rory Clancy was on that first committee too.

That was ten years ago?

Yeah, the very first parade we had was in March 2005. This year was the tenth parade. It’s unbelievable that it’s gone on so long. The sad side is that when we first started, we had a long list of businesses in the village and that number has really decreased. But the groups, organisations and sport clubs have gotten bigger and better over the years, which is a great thing. There is so much going on in Oughterard, and the St Patrick’s Day parade is the one day when all these groups can come out and show us what they’re doing.

It’s also free publicity, because we don’t charge. Instead the committee fundraises for the parade. This year we had to go back to the businesses and ask them for funding, because there’s only a core group of five of us. Four of us on the committee: Myself, Rory Clancy, Regina O’Toole, and Alison O’Toole. Then John McDonagh, who we really and truly could not do without. The committee was always a small group, but at the moment membership is at its lowest. We are always looking out for new people with new ideas. No matter how small an idea they have. We don’t exclude anybody.

What are the pros and cons of being involved in the committee? 

Being out there on the day. Once the parade gets on the move, once it starts coming down Main Street and you see the Grand Marshal coming with the flag, and all of the groups, it’s a great feeling. As long as nobody gets injured, and that the traffic is moving pretty smoothly.

I suppose the con is that you’re out there in the public eye! There is a lot of stuff to be aware of, and to think about. There is so much to do before the day of the actual parade. It’s getting the truck together, and the organising. But every year it’s getting easier and easier because we’re now getting to the stage where we’ve got all the contacts needed. You keep your friends close but your contacts closer!

This year’s parade was a great success. There was a great turn-out! 

It was brilliant. There seems to be a lot of positive feedback. We want to hear the criticisms too though. If someone thinks we need to do something different, if we don’t know we can’t do anything about it. We want to hear the good stuff and the bad!

You also had the National Anthem as part of the festivities this year. Why?

Rory (Clancy) had this idea. Down through the years of the parade, we’ve never done the National Anthem. A few of our Grand Marshals have passed away, and a couple of them had been on the committee, and because it was the tenth year of the parade. It was a way of saying thank you and remembering them. There have also been committee members that have come and gone on to other things. Without their input, this wouldn’t be what it is.

We also had Aidan (Murphy) as our Grand Marshal, who came up with the idea of the parade all those years ago. Denis (Geoghegan) and Gerry (Darcy), who sang the anthem, had played at that very first parade too, and Gerry was MC. So it was all a sort of reunion!

And for people who might want to get involved next year?

We will be having our AGM in the next month or two. There’ll be posters advertising that, and we have a Facebook page too. We’ll make sure that the word is out there.

And finally…

We just want to say a big thank you to everybody, because without them there’d be no parade. There’s no point in having a truck out there, all decorated, judges organised and music, with the street cordoned off and everything, if people don’t come.

From year one, the floats have been great. The progression, and the amount of work and effort and money that people put in, to make our parade bigger and better, it’s brilliant. And seeing the kids, coming out, and being there and just to see how proud they are, to walk in front of their community. That’s what we want. We want our parade to be a day to celebrate what we have in Oughterard, and the surrounding areas.

Hopefully that will continue.

Thanks to Nuala for taking the time to answer my questions.

Congratulations to all involved!

Make sure to like their page at this link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Oughterard-St-Patricks-Day-Parade/1377668475842309

An interview with NUIG’s Jailbreak students, Aaron Molloy and Shane Tierney (March 2014).

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Last month, local NUIG students, Aaron Molloy and Shane Tierney, took part in Jailbreak 2014. They raised over €1000 for their selected charities. 

They recently answered some questions about their experience.

What is Jailbreak?

“Jailbreak is a national student charity weekend, where students from Ireland’s Universities have 36 hours to get as far away as possible from their starting point in Kilmainham Gaol, without using any of their own money on travel. Teams were allowed to seek sponsorship from companies and businesses before the weekend began. Money was raised for the charities before and after the adventure started”.

And why did you decide to get involved?

“We thought it was a great opportunity to fundraise for charity and see the world at the same time”.

Had you decided on a destination before the trip?

“No, we had no set plan, but we intended on heading in the direction of Istanbul or Dubai. We had a small amount of money raised, which was donated by multiple sponsors so we knew we would be able to get out of Dublin. We decided to just check how much flights would be to the States last minute and to our surprise we found a flight to New York within our budget. We had 45 minutes to book our tickets, register for the visas and make it to the check in. We legged it, got to the gate with minutes to spare and got on our way to the USA. First stop was Heathrow, then Newark”.

Did you get a lot of support from people, both in the community and further abroad?

“The amount of support we got from the local community, from the generous strangers we encountered and from the lovely staff of British Airways was unbelievable. At Dublin airport itself people were so generous. United Airlines staff gathered together €50 between them and another random woman donated the last €20. We couldn’t believe it”.

“A coffee morning was also organised prior to the trip and a huge amount of money was raised for the charities. We are so grateful to Dermot, Lin and Staff in Breathnach’s Bar for hosting the coffee morning and for their continued support on our adventure. We would also like to thank all the people who came along and supported the coffee morning. The charities were St Vincent de Paul, Amnesty International and Draiocht. Also the support from our friends both in Oughterard and in college was phenomenal and we are very grateful”.

Was there any ‘standout’ moment from the trip?

“It was an amazing experience, but the highlight was probably the top of the Empire State Building. We just about managed to make it there for the deadline. We were proud and delighted to have gotten as far as we did. By then, Jailbreak was over, and having come 2nd place in NUIG, we were delighted. We had some time to explore New York and we certainly packed a 5 day holiday into 36 hours!”.

Any advice for students thinking of getting involved next year?

“If we were to give any advice to students participating in Jailbreak next year, we’d say, don’t think about it any further and just do it. It was an unbelievable experience. We would also advise that the participants enjoy the whole experience and don’t make plans. Just go with it”.

Flashback: An interview with Heathers (July, 2013).

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Yesterday, I had the chance to speak with the lovely Ellie and Louise Macnamara, the twin sisters who make up the band Heathers. They were in Galway ahead of their Galway Arts Festival performance at the Roisin Dubh last night.

Their music is great, and they’re great. Have a read below of the interview which covered the duo’s musical journey from family gatherings, to sleeping on floors, to the Oscars! And, of course, Maltesers.

Katy: Have you always played music together?

Ellie: When we were younger we’d have family gatherings and we’d be forced to sing together. And then we kind of got to the teenage years, and we were really, really, shy, and wouldn’t sing at all. Then when we were in secondary school we joined the school choir and that kind of taught us to harmonize and gave us that little bit of confidence we needed to maybe try and sing again. And then in 2007 we formed Heathers, and that was really the start of us writing our own music and performing together.

K: Is there music in your family?

Louise: Yeah, both our parents are great singers, and our brother is in so many different bands, and grew up being in so many different bands. I think that encouraged us to start playing music, and to start a band together. Our younger sister also has an amazing voice, so we’re all pretty musical. We’ve been playing the piano since the age of five or six. And then I started guitar at seventeen.

E: Yeah, I guess we are pretty musical. We listen to a lot of music as well!

K: When did you have your first gig?

L: The first ever gig we played, wasn’t so much a gig… We played at a gathering up in Killiney Hill. That was the first time we ever played together…

E: In front of people. Our own music.

L: Then the second time was our friend Alex’s 18th birthday. We played in a venue called The Lower Deck in Dublin. It’s a venue we played a lot at when we started out. Yeah, that was just the two of us. I think that was one of the only gigs we’ve ever played sitting down. Since then it’s standing up the whole time. And then after that…

E: Was it supporting Nine Lives?..

L: ... in the Voodoo Lounge.

E: And we weren’t eighteen, so we weren’t actually allowed in. I remember hiding in the toilets until we played because the bouncers were going to throw us out!

K: Then your debut album was released in 2008.. An exciting time?

L: Yeah, like, when we started Heathers we didn’t even have plans of releasing anything. We were putting on gigs, kind of DIY pub gigs, and then I wrote a song. I went into Ellie’s room, Ellie put some harmonies to it, and it kind of took off from there! We had around four, maybe five songs, by the summer of fifth year in 2007. And it was maybe our fourth gig, the one after the Voodoo Lounge, we played with an American band who were touring over here, who we were big fans of, called Ghost Mice. We played with them in an old abandoned tea house on Killiney beach, and Chris from Ghost Mice who runs a record label called Plan-It-X Records in the States, really liked our music and said I want you to write enough songs so that I can release a record of yours on my label and then maybe we can tour together! And that’s what we did! We wrote enough songs for an album. Eleven songs altogether. We recorded it during our Mocks, so that was maybe January/February 2008. Then we released it the week before our Leaving Cert. It was crazy!

E: And our parents said that if we worked hard at our Leaving Cert that they’d let us go to America.

L: Yeah, so then we went on tour with Ghost Mice that summer. 34 gigs in 30 days. It was so hectic, but an absolutely amazing experience. Since then, a lot of things have happened… In 2010 we re-released Here, Not There when we got Remember When, the first single on the album, on the Discover Ireland ad. We set up our own record label – Aunthill Records.

K: Did a lot change with that Discover Ireland ad?  

E: I think it really opened a lot of doors for us, because it got our music out there for so many more people who otherwise may never have heard our songs. I think a lot of the things that happened after that were slightly as a result of that ad. It ran for three years, which is incredible. I’m sure some people are sick of it. But It really boosted our career.  We ended up writing our second album, and who knows, maybe we wouldn’t have written a second album… I don’t know. Maybe we would… But it was wonderful for us.

K: And then you released the second album last year. And now you’re playing at the Galway Arts Festival… What has been the ‘stand-out’ moment for you?

L: Definitely those tours of the States that we did. I’ll never forget them. They were the kind of tours that we’ll never do again. We were traveling around in a mini van, no air conditioning, staying on people’s floors… Getting to see the whole country, and experiencing it in a different way. Now when we go touring in the States or Canada we have a band and it’s more so playing in venues and staying in hotels. It’s a completely different experience.

E: I think my biggest standout moment was in February, when we played at a pre-Oscars party in LA. There was a moment where we were playing and Stephen Spielberg and J.J. Abrams were sitting where you are right now – that close. It’s one of those moments where you’re singing your song and you’re kind of making eye contact with people in the audience then you’re like, “What the HELL!!?”.

L: All I could think was, “E.T.”

E: And even just recording and releasing our second album. I can’t believe we’ve written and released two albums!  I never thought we’d do one album! It’s pretty amazing, and we’ve got to see so many amazing places and meet so many wonderful people. There’s been a lot of highlights.

K: You’re involved with social media a lot between Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Do you think that’s important to keep in contact with fans?

L: Definitely.

E: I think it kind of personalizes everything a little bit. Personally, with bands and artists I like, I love going on Twitter and seeing them say something about what they’re doing, or what they’re up to, it makes it all a little bit more intimate. I love it! It’s important to have that little bit of a connection with people who like your music, and buy your music, and want to see you play. It’s cool, because you can control it, and let out as much as you want to. And also just for staying in touch with people, and getting information out there about gigs or if we’re releasing something. It’s a wonderful way to just get everything out to everyone.

K: What’s next for Heathers?

E: Well, we‘re really excited about tonight. Then we’re going to head off to Germany at the end of July because we’re releasing our album in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Poland!

L: And I think we’re going to have an Irish tour in September/October time, so we’re going to be releasing dates for that soon.. in the coming weeks. And then we’re writing a lot, constantly writing. When we’re not touring, we’re writing. So hopefully, maybe a release of something in the coming months or year or so. We’ll see!

K: Finally…. My quick questions! 

Favorite song or album right now? Or ever… if you can answer that. 

L: Can I answer right now?

E: Graceland!

L: You’re saying Graceland.. I would say Haim. Don’t Save Me, or FallingHaim altogether. I’ve been listening to them nonstop recently.

K: Advice for aspiring musicians?

L: Just go for it! There’s so many different ways of getting music out there now, with the internet especially. It’s so easy to record anything, there are so many different programmes for recording… YouTube.. Anything!

E: Be confident.

L: Yeah, have confidence in yourself and just go for it.

E: And don’t give up.

K: A favorite line from a song.. 

L: Do you know what’s funny actually? ….

E: Are we both the same? Yeah. We’re both the same.

L:  … When I listen to music, it would take me maybe, and I’m not joking, fifteen listens or so to actually hear the lyrics. When I listen to a song I always hear the melodies or the beats first. I’m really bad at lyrics.

E: And I’m exactly the same. I’m really really bad with lyrics!

L: I can’t even think…

K: It’s tough. Some people like to email me later..

L: Can we email you?

E: Because the thing is, I’m going to be walking around later…

K: Cat or Dog?

L & E (In unison): CAT.

E: Oh no! Am… We both have a cat, but recently i’ve got more into dogs.. We have a family cat so…

L: Are you a cat or a dog person?

K: Dog. But we never had a cat..

E: And we never had a dog! But I’m kind of slowly moving over…

L: Yeah! I love dogs!

K: And finally… Maltesers or Minstrels?

L: That’s a tough one.

E: I’m going to say Maltesers. Because I love Maltesers and popcorn together. It’s like the best combination!

L: You know, I think I’d go for Minstrels..

E: Louise!

L: I love Maltesers, but sometimes I feel them not chocolate-ly enough.

K: That’s what I like!

E: Yeah, I like how you’ve got your little outer shell of chocolate…

*laughter*

E: Great question.

And that’s it! Keep up to date with everything Heathers via:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeathersTunes  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeathersMusic  

Tumblr: http://heathersmusic.tumblr.com

Flashback : An interview with author Fiona O’Malley (June, 2013).

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Fiona O’Malley is the author of What Would Kate Do? The Diary of a Walking Disaster (which launched on Saturday night!).

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Fiona and ask her a few questions! Apart from this new book, Fiona writes for magazines including Vogue and also wrote The Daily Fail: The Musical! All while doing a Masters in Journalism. You can find her blog at this address: http://alliwanttodoiswritesally.blogspot.ie or visit her website at: http://www.fionaomalley.co.uk

The Interview.. 

Q1: What can you tell me about the book? 

What Would Kate Do: The Diary of a Walking Disaster! is a story about a girl who idolizes The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and tries to follow her footsteps in life but fails miserably. She is in her 30’s and is terrified of being left on the shelf while she is maid of honour for her two best friends’ weddings. Instead of ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ her motto in life is ‘What Would Kate Do?’ It’s a chick-flick novel: think Bridget Jones meets The Devil Wears Prada! It’s a chick-lit comedy.

I hope people like it. I’d like to think I’m funny. If I’m not, I guess the joke will be the book! Here’s a joke for you: my life! I spend every spare second I can hunched over my laptop in my tiny studio apartment in London, wrapped up in woollens because it’s so cold with drafts and I’m too poor to afford the heating. I live off a diet of watered-down porridge. I don’t mind it though. I made the choice of becoming a writer and, coming from a single-parent background, I wasn’t raised with luxury. I work really hard to create art and the struggle years will make the end result (which I hope is success) all the more worth it. Pain is temporary. Rejection is temporary. If I give up, it’s forever.

Q2: What kind of creative process do you use? Did it take you long to write the book?

Although I was playing around with the plot idea in my head and on paper for a while, I wrote it in two months. Writing things fast is never a problem, I guess being trained as a journalist with a pressure to make deadlines and being very organised means I’m very disciplined with my time, however, the re-drafting was the most tedious part. That took a year.

Q3: You’re self-publishing this book. Is that a difficult road to take? 

It has its positives and negatives. The positives are that I own all of the rights so if there are any future progressions, like if the book is turned into a film or if it is released in paper back form in the future, I’ll be in a better position to negotiate my cut etc. It’s also a cheaper and more efficient way to get copies of the book around. The hugely negative thing was that a lot of people in the older generation don’t know how to use kindles, iPods, iPads or their laptops to download the book. I am so bad with technology too though. The last time I came home my auntie asked me, “As a writer, do you use the kringle or do you prefer paperback books?”, which explains where I get my aptitude for technology from. In the future, I’ll ask my grandchildren, “What is this complex device children?” They’ll give me an overly kind smile and say “That, granny, is a doorbell!”

Although I wouldn’t recommend self-publishing for people who don’t know much about marketing or the press, I have the advantage of A) The book was inspired by one of the most photographed women in the world so I am hoping there will be a lot of interest in it B) Having worked at VogueThe Sunday Times and The Irish Times with a few ‘aul columns myself, I have media contacts in Ireland and the UK which I’m taking advantage of in terms of publicity for the book. I’m playing to my strengths.

Q4: You’ve also written The Daily Fail: The Musical! which was successfully funded through Kickstarter (and endorsed by Andrew Llyod Webber!) How does it feel to see that all coming together? Are you all set for the show’s premiere in July? 

Although it’s flattering that a lot of people are enthusiastic about the musical, it takes an immense amount of work. It’s very emotional seeing it all come together. When I see UTC’s (The Untold Theatre Company, which Fiona co-founded) work evolving before my eyes, I know that working myself into the ground is worth it. I am confident that the show in July will be a success. The four creators of the musical (me: the writer & co-producer; Adam Wollerton: the director & co-producer; Joseph Alexander: the composer; and Rachel Kelly: the choreographer) all have the same work ethic with a commitment to excellence so it works well. If people like it, we’ll take it to the West End this autumn.

Q5: You’re a busy lady! Where do you get the drive from? 

I am very proud of what I have achieved so far, but it didn’t come easy (I applied to Vogue 106 times before I got in, which means I got rejected 105 times) but I really must emphasise that I am, by no means, superior to the average person in intelligence or talent. I couldn’t be plainer if I tried! That’s not false modesty or anything, I just don’t want the pressure of people building me up to something I’m not. Like every girl, I have moments where I’m webbed with self-doubt and riddled with insecurities. Whatever I lack in intelligence or natural ability I make up for in hard work and a sense of humour. In school, I was a below average student. I worked really hard to get really mediocre results. The only things I was good at were music, art and languages – all of the creative subjects. I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I stuck with my strengths and did languages under the BA International at NUIG. I followed what I liked and was good at. To me, that’s the secret to success: working your ass off at what you like and what you’re good at. Where do I get the drive from? I’m not sure entirely. I just strive for progress, learning, growing and always moving forward, no matter what.

Q6: I’m guessing that this is only the beginning for you… What’s next?

I definitely want to continue writing – books, plays, musicals, sitcoms and movies.

I am so lucky to be able to do what I love and although more often than not it’s financially crippling, I know that long-term, I wouldn’t be happy in any other field than the arts. Poverty is stressful, degrading and strips you of your self-esteem but if it is the cost of doing what I love, so be it. I would rather be happy and deprived than spoiled and miserable.

I am certain that I would go insane if I stopped writing. I can no more stop writing than a musician can stop playing. It is my warmth, passion and mind stretched out for others to read and experience, with the hope that I can provide laughter, thoughts and an emotional journey for others who have felt the same or who simply want to laugh at someone else’s struggle, comforted in the notion that every single person in life goes through a struggle because the struggle is life – what a depressing, terrifying, liberating, wonderful thought! My next book is called Memoirs of a Basset Hound and it’s about my journey to Vogue. That will be released in 2014. I also plan to write two more What Would Kate Do? books as I have enough ideas for a trilogy.

Q7: You’ve chosen to launch your book in Galway… Why Galway?

I am launching the book in Galway because it’s where my family live and because it’s one of my favourite places in the world. Being a true sun goddess, I hope to top-up on my tan when I’m home on the sun-drenched beaches of the West of Ireland. Snort. I burn in the rain. I will always have a grá for Galway. When you have a love affair with a place, it’s very hard to let it go.

Q8: Any advice for aspiring writers/playwrights?  

For anyone who wants to be an artist – any type of artist – I’d say to accept that it’s going to be tough, very tough, but if you’re willing to put in the work without getting paid or credit, if you’re willing to live like a pauper and walk like a king, if you’re willing to commit yourself to excellence without the disability of an ego, then you will succeed!

FOUR QUICK ONES! 

 – Favorite book?

The Harry Potter collection (I’m a huge nerd!)

 – Favorite musical?

Wicked or The Daily Fail!

 – Biggest inspiration?

Biggest inspiration is easily my mother. She’s a kind, warm, powerhouse woman who is proof that success is not about status, pay or popularity. It’s about turning negative situations into positive ones. If I’m half the person she is someday, I’ll be happy with that!

 – Maltesers or Minstrels?

Minstrels.

What Would Kate Do? The Diary of a Walking Disaster is available to buy on Amazon now: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Would-Diary-Walking-Disaster-ebook/dp/B00DNE2IGO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372706197&sr=8-1&keywords=what+would+kate+do+diary+of+a+walking+disaster