A question of taste - Cork writer Ciarán Collins

Ciaran Collins: New play debuts at Cork Arts Theatre next week.

Ciarán Collins is a writer from Inniscarra, Co Cork.

His debut novel The Gamal was published by Bloomsbury, and his play Primal will premiere at Cork Arts Theatre from March 5-9.

He teaches English and Irish as well as hurling, film-making and creative writing at Hamilton High School, Bandon. He lives in Kinsale with his wife and has two children.

Best recent book you’ve read:

I read a lot of plays as well as novels. I have the collected plays of Dermot Healy on loan from Cork City Library at the moment. It’s an intriguing read.

Best recent film you’ve seen:

Vice — it’s great. I loved The Big Short too which had the same creative team.

Best recent show or gig:

The last play I saw was a really good production of Brien Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa in Kinsale a couple of weeks ago. Friel’s writing can hit you like a wave at times. I saw a production of Faith Healer in The Gate back along when I lived in Dublin. Ralph Fiennes played the role of Frank Hardy. It’s such a quiet masterpiece of a play too. Good theatre experiences can stay with you forever.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old):

A recent discovery was Big Thief. Their song ‘Mary’ is beautifully crafted. I also recently heard Mary Coughlan singing a Karrie O’Sullivan song on RTÉ Radio 1 called ‘Elbow Deep’ which was also pretty amazing.

First ever piece of music or film that really moved you:

I began secondary school in 1990 which was pretty good timing for a music lover to enter his teenage years. It was an incredible decade of music. If I had to pick one piece it would have to be Pearl Jam’s Black.

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen (if you had to pick one!):

R.E.M. in Slane in 1995, with support from Oasis.

Tell us about your TV viewing:

I don’t watch much TV to be honest. The Wire is probably the best TV show I’ve seen. I occasionally watch Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and Better Call Saul on Netflix.

Radio listening and/or podcasts:

DJs like Donal Dineen, John Kelly, Philip King, John Creedon and Lilian Smith as well as BBC Radio 6 all provide a good hunting ground for good new and old music. There’s no podcast I listen to religiously. I tend to do a search by topic or artist and listen to what I find.

Your favourite books of all time:

- Ulysses by James Joyce.

- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.

- Chronicles by Bob Dylan.

Your best celebrity encounter:

My best, at the time, was meeting Cork hurler John Fenton when I was a kid and getting his autograph. That ground strike goal against Limerick put him in the realm of the Gods for me at the time. It still does to be honest. I also really enjoyed meeting Michael D with my family at the Áras. He’s a man I admire. And I love having a poet for president. Proper order!

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event — where, when, and why?

1961, Greenwich Village, New York. A young lad called Bob Dylan is hitch-hiking his way towards the place, from Hibbing Minnesota. He’ll change music and world forever.

Do you have any interesting ancestors or family?

Michael Collins was my grandfather Patty Collins’ first cousin.

They grew up together. My sister Úna is an artist who’s had a good few exhibitions. My brother Éamonn played senior hurling for Cork. He hurled with some of the modern greats like Séan Óg Ó hAilpín and The Rock, Diarmuid O’Sullivan. My other brother Pádraig played for the Cork minors in the mid-1980s.

Unsung hero — individual or group you think don’t get the praise they deserve:

Actors. I’m working closely with two actors at the moment —Jack Walsh and Tommy Harris — and I’m just blown away by how committed and brilliant they are.

You are king for a day — what’s your first decree?

I’d start a new Irish TV channel for the arts and music. And maybe a bit of hurling, which is an art form anyway, of course!

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