On the one hand the fact that Madonna turns 60 today is shocking. It kind of makes YOU feel old, doesn’t it?
On the other it’s totally irrelevant. And that is just one of the things that the all-singing all-dancing Grande Dame of Materialism has done for those of us who have grown up with her — not to mention succeeding generations for whom she is still a force to be reckoned with.
She’s blown out the candles today, looked wryly at those around her and figuratively (if not actually) shoved the cake in everybody’s face.
Because while she may have hit this so called milestone that is the harbinger of cocoa and slippers — she’s made it about as significant as the Y2K virus was after the calendar flipped over into 2000.
Quelle surprise — it’s business as usual... nothing has changed.
Yes she’s airbrushed within an inch of her life on the pages of every magazine. Yes she’s had “work” done but you cannot fake the energy she radiates, whether it’s on tour or screen.
She apparently missed the email telling her it was time to start taking it easy and leave the music business to the younger folk to get on with instead.
In a rags to hard-earned riches career which spans 36 years to date, she has spent the best part of a decade in time at the No.1 position in the charts.
After arriving in New York in 1977 with just a paltry $35 in her pocket “little Noni” (her family’s pet name for her) is now worth in excess of $800 million (€705 million).
Let’s be honest — her age is of more significance to us than her. She’s taken the fear out of the big six-o and allowed the possibility that we can all actually remain young as long as the energy levels hold up.
Dammit — any woman who can bring out the video she appeared in for ‘Girl Gone Wild’ (2012) at the age of 54 crawling on all fours in spike heels and barely there PVC is vying with the Dalai Lama’s powers in my book.
After that little performance, turning 60 today is a mere detail, sweetie.
On the home front, several of our own leading ladies are killing it in their sixth decade and showing absolutely no signs of slowing down.
It’s hard to believe that groundbreaking Chernobyl activist, Adi Roche, hit the milestone three years ago already. Did it have any effect?
“Absolutely!” she admits. “For me, major milestones are always times to reflect, but with an eye on what is ahead as well.
“Not too long after I turned 60, we faced into what was one of Chernobyl Children International’s biggest years. At the age of 60, I addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the 30th Anniversary of Chernobyl so I was certainly more determined, because I had this rare opportunity to appeal to the world’s most powerful decision-makers.”
Asking her whether she intends to ease back on her commitments at this stage of her life seems both insulting and futile.
“I can’t see myself slowing down any time soon,” she smiles, “however I am more conscious that I have to mind myself.
"My health has been impacted by my work over the years, so turning 60 definitely allowed me that time to reflect and say: ‘Okay Adi, you need to start minding yourself a bit more.’ I have a greater sense of urgency to get more accomplished as I’m now more aware that the clock is ticking.
"My lifestyle didn’t change dramatically in any way and I’ve even returned to rowing in my 60s, which is something I hadn’t done in over 40 years.
“While I didn’t have a big party or anything like that, it was definitely a time to celebrate the important things and people in my life. I feel very fortunate to be able to enjoy this time, because I know it is a privilege many do not have.
"It’s given me chance to reflect and appreciate the life I’ve lived so far, especially with my life-partner, my husband Seán who I appreciate more and more over time.”
Singer Mary Coughlan’s fear of turning 60 set in when she turned 58.
“I was absolutely dreading it,” she says, followed by a wry laugh.
“As a result that birthday was awful and my 59th was even worse. I had a lot of health problems then. I felt wretched and all I could think was oh no! 60! I could see this big milestone coming at me and I just wasn’t ready — but somewhere that year I made my peace with it and I was actually OK when it finally arrived.”
After health problems and the need for two stents, the singer is now fighting fit — she’s actually just out of the gym when we speak.
“After I did my cardiac rehab a year ago, I was flying. I was so fit. It was the most amazing feeling,” she laughs.
“Then I let it slide so I’m getting back to it now. I have to be fit with the amount of touring and gigging I have lined up.”
2019 will see her return to Australia and New Zealand for a string of festival dates before she hits the UK in April for an 18-date tour.
Her daughter, who lives with her, has also just given birth to a baby boy and Mary admits she is smitten. “He is so gorgeous, it’s just wonderful.”
On top of all this there’s a new album in the pipeline for next year and this November will see the opening of her first play, Woman Undone, at The Project theatre in Temple Bar.
“The show (it’s not a musical - it just has a lot of music and songs) is based on my life and experiences so personally it’s a very big step for me,” she admits.
“I’ve collaborated with Valgier Sigurdsson who’s worked with Bjork and Sigur Ros and the plan is to take it on the road as well.
“My God, 60 just isn’t what it used to be perceived as. I’ve never been so busy and thankfully I’m so well now too. It’s mad but I love it.”