A question of taste: Deirdre O’Donovan

Deirdre O’Donovan is development consultant with West Cork Music and event organiser of the inaugural West Cork Chamber Music Fringe Festival which will take place in and around the town of Bantry from tomorrow.

Best recent book you’ve read: I’ve just finished Emma Jane Kirby’s The Optician of Lampedusa, about the rescue of migrants off the Italian island.

Best recent film: I went to the Fastnet Film Festival in Schull last month and totally enjoyed Peter Foott’s The Young Offenders — I must be one of the few people from Cork who hadn’t seen it. What I loved most was the great Irish humor and the love and warmth between the characters. It has to be a comtemporary Irish classic.

Best recent show or exhibition/gig you’ve seen: The West Meets West Exhibition at West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen. Well worth the trip as it’s an opportunity to see the work of artists who would never normally exhibit here.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old): Charles Bradley — I think it’s because the weather has been good and he’s cool to chill to in the garden with a glass of wine.

First ever piece of music or art that really moved you: Cezanne exhibition at the National Gallery in Washington DC. I was young and realised I totally got it, I mean I understood how art can make you feel... it’s better than any drug!

The best concert you’ve ever seen at West Cork Music Festival: This is easy for me — it was tenor Mark Padmore, who sang at last year’s festival. If I could hear angels sing I’m sure it would be Mark, he literally gave me goosebumps.

Tell us about your TV viewing: This can range from Corrie to The Wire to Family Guy plus loads of documentaries — from megastructures to OJ: Made in America. Currently I’m loving The Handmaid’s Tale.

Radio listening and/or podcasts: BBC World Service — Witness and The Inquiry, BBC 4 In Our Time, RTÉ1 Documentary on One.

You’re curating your dream festival — what three artists are on the bill, living or dead? On basis of performance I’d have to say Leonard Cohen, Prince and Bruce Springsteen.

Your best celebrity encounter: I shook Nelson Mandela’s hand when I was working for Ken Livingstone. Ken had commissioned a statue of Mr Mandela and on his last trip to England, Nelson unveiled it on Parliment square. It was pretty special indeed.

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event — where, when, and why? I’d have to be selfish and say I wish I was a successful abstract expression artist and hung with Pollock, Rothko, De Kooning, etc, in NYC and the Hamptons in the late 1940s. It feels like it was a happy and creative post-war time.

Do you have any interesting family or ancestors? My second cousin is David Johansen from the band the New York Dolls. When I was 16 I went to see him perform at Tramps in NYC and sat at a table with the Ramones who were so sweet to me.

Unsung hero — individual, organisation or group you think don’t get the profile/praise they deserve: I have to say home and health carers. These unsung heros not only work hard but show such respect and dignity for the people they’re caring for. This is a responsibility that affects us all at some stage of our lives and it’s wonderful to have such help at hand.

You are queen for a day — what’s your first decree? I’d decree my government create a senior ministry for the arts and gives at least 8% of GDP to it. It would save money in the long run in the areas of health and social issues and create an income stream along the lines of Bord Bia does today.


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