A question of taste: Siobhan McSweeney

Siobhan McSweeney is currently starring in Kevin Barry’s new play Autumn Royal at the Everyman in Cork, before it then tours to Dublin and Leitrim. Originally from Aherla, Co Cork, she studied drama at UCC, and now lives in London, says Des O’Driscoll.

Siobhan McSweeney: Currently starring in Autumn Royal, by Kevin Barry.

Best recent book you’ve read

I usually have a few on the go: The Countenance Divine by Michael Hughes; and Chaplin: His Life and Art by David Robinson is a great sweeping account of a fascinating man.

I’m also looking forward to reading Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton, she sounds hilarious. I’m absolutely loving The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. I’m finding it hard to put down when I should be learning lines.

Best recent film

I, Daniel Blake is extraordinary, and Oiche Nollaig na mBan by the Cork filmmaker Oonagh Kearney — beautiful and rousing.

Best recent play you’ve seen… and what you enjoyed about it

Loch na h’Eala (Swan Lake) by Michael Keegan-Dolan at Sadler’s Wells theatre in London. So moving and eloquent.

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

Richard Dawson, from Newcastle. Weird folky-odd-shouty type thing.

I also love R.E.M. Out of Time, it was released 25 years ago. Which is terrifying. Where did the time go?

The best play you’ve ever seen

Corcadorca’s Disco Pigs in Cork, [with Cillian Murphy, pictured] back in the 1990s. It showed me what theatre could be.

Tell us about your TV viewing

Sporadic and inconsistent. I devoured Transparent and am still digesting it. When I despair of the world and the way it’s going I comfort watch The West Wing and rock myself to sleep thinking that there are wise, kind adults in positions of power. Waking up and reading the news proves it is otherwise.

Radio listening and/or podcasts

I love Ronan Collins’ show during the day. It keeps me in touch with Ireland while in London. I listen every day if I’m not rehearsing. And then I switch over to the John Kelly Ensemble on Lyric. And there is a show on BBC Radio 3 called Late Junction which has an eclectic and unusual range of music- mad stuff altogether.

Your best celebrity encounter

I did call Gilllian Anderson ‘Scully’ while we were filming The Fall. Twice. I get red still thinking about it! She was very nice about it though- she pretended she didn’t hear me. Actually, maybe she didn’t hear me.

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

I’d like to go back to Berlin in the 1970s and hang out with Bowie and Iggy in drag bars.

Do you have any interesting family or ancestors?

My grandfather, Paidraig Mac Suibhne was An Suibhneach Meann, the poet from Cúil Aodha. Unfortunately the poetry gene seems to have passed me over, as is evident from my clumsy use of words in this piece!

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

All the people behind the Repeal the 8th campaign here in Ireland, and all over the world. Various groups including Speaking of IMELDA, Abortion Rights Ireland campaign, and other grassroots groups. Tireless dedication and work on behalf of the women of Ireland in the face of opposition and misinformation.

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

If I’m queen... to abolish the monarchy of course! A foolish and dangerous idea.



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