Monday, 22 September 2008


Originally from Dublin, Kathryn O’Callaghan has been living on the outskirts of Carndonagh for three years with Seamus (her partner) and her two children. Kathryn got involved with the Inishowen Gospel Choir and it’s sister group, the Specular Choir when it began and their popularity has grown to such an extent that most of her time is spent managing the group. Their highlights this year include a recent appearance at the green Futures Field at Glastonbury and critically acclaimed performances with Duke Special and Foy Vance. They have also travelled to France, Poland and England and just returned from a spot in the Spiegel Tent in Dublin at the Fringe Festival. Kathryn loves delving into the wonderful world of wacky choirs and is looking forward to their next performance in McGrory’s in Culdaff on the 2nd of October. Billed as A Concert For India it also has performances from the Henry Girls and Spirit of Jazz.

BBC Northern Ireland will be at McGrory’s to film the choir for a programme called “Festival Nights” which will be shown on the 20th October. This is to highlight the Queen’s Festival in Belfast on the 25th October, where they will be performing at a concert called Urban Hymns with an array of special guests.

What music do you like?
All sorts, from blues to jazz, trad to classical, the list is endless.

What would you never throw away?
My children – I’m far too attached to them.

What book are you reading?
I don’t have much time for reading anything other than children’s books. My time is taken up with the family and choir. If I do get a minute, it’s usually to flick through a Homes and Garden magazine.

What was your favourite childhood game?
Repeating every word my friends would say until it drove them demented – I found this fiendishly funny.

Have you been to the cinema recently, what did you see and was it any good?
Kung Fu Panda with my two young boys. I found it surprisingly funny. Anything that manages to make a snake doing kung fu look cool is quite an achievement!

What section of the newspaper do you turn to first?
I usually start at the beginning, unless something earth shattering has occurred, most of my reading time is generally spent on the arts and culture section.

What is your idea of a good night out?
Going to see a good gig with friends. I enjoy any live performance. The last one I saw was La Clique Circus, which is like an old Burlesque show from the 1930’s. It has wonderfully endearing characters like the Norwegian Rubber Man, who passes his body through two stringless badminton rackets and an act called the Naked Man and Woman, who just wandered around the audience.

Most embarrassing moment of your life?
I have a couple. As a child I was helping to groom a horse, when my older cousins pulled a prank on me. I was a bit naïve and they sent me up to the neighbour’s house to ask them if I could borrow a jar of elbow grease! The latest was when we did a gig at Glastonbury near a Permaculture café. We thought it would be a good idea to do an impromptu session among the trees near the Permaculture café but due to space restrictions ended up performing in a bush, literally! It was probably the worst and funniest gig we’ve done to date! Thankfully, we had a few proper gigs over there as well to make up for it!

Have you a favourite TV programme?
Not really, I don’t tend to watch a lot of television. If I look at a screen it’s usually for e-mails.

How do you relax?
Listening to music and gardening. I have just planted a mixed hedge, which should give us a bit of shelter from the North winds when it grows.

What job did you want to do when you were a child?
First, to become a vet, then an artist, then a rocket scientist…I’m still dreaming.

Where would you like to go for your holidays?
Cuba for the history, music and culture – although I’ve heard the food’s a bit dodge so may have to bring a few packed lunches with me.

Your idea of heaven?
Being stuck in a lift with Johnny Depp.

Your idea of hell?
Being stuck in a lift with elevator music playing.

What famous people would you invite around for dinner and why?
Nina Simone so she could hopefully teach me how to sing the Blues in 10 easy steps. The Biologist, Richard Dawkins for a good debate, Jonathan Ross so there’d be no gaps in the conversation and Darina Allen so she could cook the dinner.

Favourite animal?
Anything belonging to the cat family (as long as those over 10lbs are sedated)

What couldn't you live without?
My gorgeous family…and my toothbrush (the former relies on the latter!).

Biggest fear?
Not achieving to the best of my ability.

Biggest thrill?
Ahem…lots, but none suitable to print.

The world's most irritating invention?
Foam containers for hot drinks – a menace to the planet, which also require people to risk life and limb opening them.

What is your idea of a good night in?
Having the famous people mentioned above around for dinner.

Do you have a hobby?
Mmm, it’s called my life.

Biggest disappointment?
Finding out the Big Fella didn’t exist when I asked for a horse for Christmas.

Which period in history would you most like to have lived through?
The period of creation, so I could tell my four year old how it all happened, and generally any period excluding the eighties – I’d rather not have been exposed to such fashion faux pas.

World's most useful invention?
Men and dishwashers in equal measures, they’re both useful and inextricably linked.

What do you have for breakfast?
When I’m feeling healthy – fresh fruit, when I’m not – lots of tea and toast with blackberry jam.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
“Always try your best”/”Don’t forget to feed the cat”

Personal philosophy?
Try not to get misquoted by the media.

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