A question of taste - Cónal Creedon

Cork-born Cónal Creedon is a novelist, playwright and documentary film maker. His latest book, The Immortal Deed Of Michael O’Leary, is an account of a man from Inchigeelagh, Co Cork, who became a hero of the First World War.

A question of taste - Cónal Creedon

Best Recent book: This past two years I’ve been immersed in writing my recently published book. So my reading invariably involved history and trawling through archives. If I had to pick one book it would be, Europe: A History by Norman Davies. While my favourite archive to for this particular project, was Cumann Staire Bhéal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh Journal (Ballingeary, Co. Cork),

Best recent show/exhibition/gig you’ve seen: Where to begin? Eileen Healy’s portrait exhibition at Nash 19 Gallery was Class A. I loved Julie Kellehers production of Friel’s, Lovers and Losers at the Everyman Palace. I’ve a soft spot for high-end musical theatre, the in-house production of Singing In The Rain at Cork Opera House was incredible. Michael Twomey’s performance in The Outgoing Tide was a tour de force. And of course, the great Pat Kinevane and Fishamble can do no wrong – his three plays currently on tour are not to be missed. Thursday teatime at the Corner House – must be one of the best trad sessions in the world. For vocal harmonies, and power riffs, you won’t get better than Box-Car Bertha, The Lee-Valley, Delta Blues Club or Sara Corkery and Brendan Butler in the Corner House. And of course the sounds in Sin é are always worth a look and a listen. That’s the tip of the iceberg of what’s happening within 2 minutes of my front door. Does life get any better? I don’t think so.

What formats do you access music? If not live — I like to see my music as well as hear it — so You Tube would be my format of choice.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old): Difficult to identify one, but it’s between. ‘Hey Mr Christmas’ by Showaddywaddy and ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ by The Ramones.

First ever piece of music or art or film or gig that really moved you: The first gig that really MOVED me was – 5 Go Down To The Sea 1980[?]. I was MOVED out of the Arcadia, on my ear, by Morgan the Bouncer for jumping around in front of the stage. Dowcha – Ricky, Smelly, Philip and Finbarr... and Elvera Buttler.

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen: I could impress you with that amazing gig by Yehudi Menuhin and his son Jeremy in the Cork City Hall back in the early 70s, or dazzle you sense of the spectacular by name dropping that mega show of Harry Belafonte at the Palladium in London 1973, or boost my street-cred with anecdotal tales of the Dammed, John Cooper Clarke, Wilko Johnson, The Pogues, The Cure or The Cimarons, in the Arc, or TomTom Club or Nirvana in Henry’s.

But the fact remains — the first cut is the deepest — and the best gig I ever saw was then and ever shall be, Showaddywaddy in the Arcadia Ballroom 1970-something, It was the night I grew out of my Bay City Rollers trousers.

TV viewing: I only watch the telly, when I can’t find the zapper to turn the bloody thing off. Although my claim to fame must be that I have seen every single episode of Coronation Street since the very beginning — every single episode — back to the time when Ken Barlow was a lad in short pants. (It’s a long story)

Radio listening: My natural bias aside, I love my brother John’s show. Also have an acute ear for Lillian Smith when she’s on air. For what’s happening in the real world I tune to Prendeville or PJ Coogan. Of course, Gay Byrne on a Sunday afternoon is still the main man in our house.

Name three of your literary heroes: Dickens, Cervantes and St Luke.

Your best celebrity encounter: I had a dog called Finbarr — who became a star of Radio [Under The Goldie Fish — RTÉ] and TV [The Swamp — RTE]. Talk about Diva, celebrity went to her head — turned her into an animal.

Most expensive item of clothing you’ve ever bought — what was it and how much: I can’t name one – but every single Christmas for the past 35 years I call into James Cogan in McCarthy’s on the Coal Quay and pick up a pair of ox-blood Docs. James always knocks a few euro off the price — but I guess over the years all those pairs of identical shoes were collectively bought in the same shop — and so have become by implication my most expensive purchase. Difficult to calculate the exact value — because we’ve been through a number of currency changes in that time: the pound, the punt and the euro — but I guess about €1,650 in today’s money.

Unsung hero — individual, organisation or group you think don’t get the profile/praise they deserve: There are Three:

1. My partner Fiona O’Toole. I am inspired by her integrity, honesty and sense of fair play, she’s a person with that rare ability to laugh in the face of adversity, and dance long after the band has stopped playing, packed their instruments and gone home.

2 & 3. Connie Pa and Siobhán Creedon; anyone who knew them will agree I was blessed to be born to those two. It’s a mystery how they managed to keep a smile on their faces. They reared 12 children, my father was a bus driver, and my mother ran the small family shop [The Inchigeela Dairy] on Devonshire Street. The shop was more social than commercial, it was the sort of home where guests came to dinner and stayed, often as many as many as 20 beating hearts slept beneath our roof. My mother and father’s workload was endless, the notion of weekend, or a day off just didn’t come into the frame — and yet it was always a house of anarchic fun and happiness, fuelled by unconditional love.

You are king for a day — what’s your first decree? I would abolish the monarchy.

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