What is your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend out in Kilkenny?
A stroll around the high street or McDonagh Junction. Meeting a friend or two for a coffee, or a couple of afternoon drinks in somewhere like Syd Harkin’s or Cleere’s on a Sunday evening. That’s just perfect.
Who has made the greatest contribution to Kilkenny in your lifetime - and why?
That’s an easy one. It’s Ger Cody. It’s for his selfless, unwavering nurturing of the arts in Kilkenny, he was the main person responsible for getting our city’s fantastic facility, the Watergate Theatre. He was instrumental in founding New Theatre group to raise money to build the theatre, which then ultimately became Watergate productions once the theatre was built. I can’t thank him enough for all the great times on stage and in the audience he has given me. Plus he’s a pure gentleman.
What’s your first Kilkenny memory?
It was being brought to the old cinema on William street. I remember the smell of the popcorn entering, and the big velvet covered double seats, it was such a great cinema, real old school lavish full of loud patterned carpets and red drapes. It was a magic place.
What’s your favourite part of the county and why?
The river walk from Kilkenny to Bennettsbridge. It’s so well maintained and picturesque. It’s also handy for me as it crosses through my husband’s farm, so I can start in the middle and head in either direction. It’s an amazing amenity on our doorstep, quite literally for me.
What do you think gives Kilkenny its unique identity?
Kilkenny has a cool vibe about it. We are both steeped in incredible history and stories that were only glad to share with visitors, along with a big warm welcome. But it’s a party town too, especially at the weekends. So you can have two very different types of experience when in Kilkenny. Plus we were at one stage in our history the capital of Ireland, so that makes it pretty unique I think.
Do you have a favourite local writer or author?
He’s not local, but he has great local links. Most of my reading comprise of scripts and so John B Keane is a favourite of mine. I’ve been lucky enough to have been cast in his play, The Field twice with Watergate productions as William Dee and the Bull McCabe’s murderous son Tadgh. His ability to create complex characters, all the time keeping them grounded in familiar identifiable situations we can relate to, makes him one of our greatest Irish writers.
What’s the biggest challenge facing the county today?
It’s sad to say but I think it’s our growing suicide rate. We have tragically lost far too many remarkable, beautiful, talented people to this scourge.
If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Kilkenny, what would it be?
I would make the hire of the Watergate Theatre free to local theatre groups and organisations. These days could be funded by local authorities monies. A large proportion of the original funding for the theatre came from fundraising by local groups. It’s a municipal building, so a set amount of weeks in the year should be set aside for this purpose free of charge for these amateur groups. It’s mostly the amateur groups that are selling out the theatre anyway. So they should be encouraged to perform there The hire fee per night is way to expensive for amateur groups who get little funding.