Our Favourite Irish Musicians

The winner of the Mercury Music Prize was announced last week (congratulations Benjamin Clementine) and with 3 Irish artists nominated, Roisin Murphy, SOAK and Aphex Twin, we decided to take a look at our favourite Irish musicians over the years.

Ciaran Lavery

One for the near future, Ciaran Lavery is a singer-songwriter from Co Antrim with an alt-folk sound. We can’t get enough of this guy, with stand out tracks “Left for America” and a cover of Lion Ritchie’s “All Night Long” being played by Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1 and have over 50,000 views on YouTube. We expect big things!

The Corrs

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It would be wrong not to put these sisters in the list! Don’t deny it we’ve all grown up with their hits and it’s made us the people we are today. With a planned 2016 tour in the plans (yes we’ll be getting tickets), we can’t wait to hear the classics “Runaway” “Breathless” and “Radio”.

Hozier

Andrew Hozier-Byrne (Hozier) was possibly the biggest breakthrough of 2014 after his 2013 hit “Take Me To Church” went viral on YouTube (287 million views) and was in the top 2 all over the World!

2015 was a massive year for Hozier, as he performed at the GRAMMYs, the Billboard Music Awards and a smashing set at Glastonbury. It’s only going to get better and better for this guy.

Westlife

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You were either Boyzone or Westlife… and we’re Westlife. We had to put them in this list having sold over 50 million records. Possibly the biggest musicians to come from Ireland (maybe U2 actually) and people are still getting to grips with their break up in 2012.

The band have gone their separate ways since, with Kian winning “I’m A Celebrity”, Brian hosting daytime television, Mark on a solo career, Nicky presenting and Shane still in music.

Girl Band

Dara Kiely, Daniel Fox, Alan Duggan, Adam Faulkner (yes they’re lads with the name “Girl Band”) were founded in 2011 in Dublin and are gaining popularity at the moment in both the UK and US.

We really like their sound and they’ve got shows in Ireland in 2016, playing Kilkenny, Castlebar and their hometown Dublin. Have a listen to the video above and let us know what you think!

 

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Our Top 4 Colin Farrell Movies

He’s our favourite Irish actor (sorry Neeson) so it’s only right we dedicate a blog post to Colin Farrell! We’ve picked out our 4 favourite films of his, what’s yours? Let us know in the comments…

1. In Bruges (2008)

We love In Bruges and it’s the top spot in our top 4 movies Colin Farrell has been in, alongside fellow Irishman Brendan Gleeson.

Farrell won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for the dark comedy. It follows the carhacters as hitmen in the city of Bruges but as you know it’s not all plain sailing. Check it out!

2. Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Seven Psychopaths was another dark comedy and stars Farrell alongside Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken (legend) and more!

Farrell is a stuggling writer and the film is about his story he’s creating. You need to concentrate on this one but it’s really gripping and worth it if you do.

3. Phone Booth (2003)

This is classic Farrell this, as he was starting out in his fantastic career we found Phone Booth and what a film it is! Whole film set in a phone booth, this gripping thriller is right up there with the best.

Also featuring Forest Whitaker, Katie Holmes and Kiefer Sutherland, Farrell is held hostage in a phone booth by a Sniper, on the phone to the person that could kill him.

Fact for you: Jim Carrey was originally cast as Farrell’s character, Stu.

4. Horrible Bosses (2011)

If you’ve not seen Horrible Bosses then we’re not friends. It’s very funny and has a stellar line up of names, including our man Colin Farrell who plays the “Horrible boss” of Jason Sudeikis’ character, who’s out to kill him.

Also features Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Kevin Spacey and more, what’s not to like here! Admittedly, Colin Farrell doesn’t play a massive part in this but his character is great so we had to include.

6 Irish Homes We Wish We Lived In

We love great design here at “Living The Irish Life” and our contemporary architecture post last week got us searching for more. This time we solely take a look at homes of all shapes that we certainly wish were ours! Did anyone watch RTÉ’s “Home Of The Year“?

1. This quirky cottage extension in the hills

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What was once a rural cottage in southern Ireland, this was extended with four mono-pitched limestone blocks. With a semi-enclosed courtyard and east facing views we love the way this has been designed.

2. This ply wood extension to a terraced house

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The complicated form of this extension to a terraced house in Dublin features three different kinds of structure – all made from plywood.

“The layout maximises the south-west orientation, and allows both internal window seat and external covered areas to relate to the garden,”says the architects.

3. This seaside house

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The seaside house on the east coast of Ireland is divided into two wooden-clad blocks made from Douglas fir, that replace a holiday chalet that previously occupied the site. One side contains nothing but a large living and dining room, while the other contains two bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen.

4. This black paneled family home

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A small extension to the rear of this remodelled townhouse in Dublin is clad and roofed in panels of opaque black glass, designed by architectural studio Ailtireacht to reflect the building’s surroundings.

5. This stand out dark grey house

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This dark grey house in Kildare was built on the remains of a 1980s home that had been ruined by flash floods. It is made up of three connected blocks, with sloping roofs designed around large chimneys that bring in natural light and ventilation.

6. This spikey house

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Speaks for itself really, it has spikes. The façade uses two different patterns chosen by the brick-layer, inspired by the brickwork of the Victorian house.

 

Top 10 Facts About Ireland… True or False?

We’ve noticed a lot of “Top 10 Facts” posts lately and after stumbling across an Irish list we thought we’d take a look and post our favourite on here. Are any of these true? Some we can’t believe!

1. There are more mobile phones in Ireland than there is people. Ermm guess so if you include those old Nokia’s in the cupboard.

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2. The Irish report the lowest annual number of UFO sightings in Europe. We’re glad about this one… they don’t exist! (anyone believe?)

3. May is generally the driest month of the year in Ireland. There’s a driest month? We thought it rained ALL the time!

4. Dublin boasts one pub for every 100 head of population. This has got to be true, for the whole population we reckon. (Check out our “Top pubs” post)

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5. The average height of Irish men is 5′ 8″. No comment.

6. At the Olympics, boxing is Ireland’s most successful sport. I wouldn’t mess with us.

7. Ireland was the first country in the world to have an environmental tax for plastic shopping bags (2002). We’re over it now, it’s England’s turn.

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8. The number of people who claim to have Irish heritage… 70 million. Well why wouldn’t you want to be Irish, we’re great! Evan Barack Obama has Irish heritage.

9. Ireland have won the Eurovision song contest more times than any other nation (7 times). This makes up for all the football tournaments. (except Euro 2016 of course).

10. The most popular baby names in Ireland are Jack and Emily. We know too many Emily’s!

Celebrations All Around… Bring On Euro 2016

We’re already counting down the days until next summer, as Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland qualify for Euro 2016 in France.

Who do we want in the groups though? England and Wales? Would be good for the rivalry but could be difficult. Personally, I want France as the atmosphere would be unreal in their home country, but there’s also a list of “easier” teams to play that would be accepted. Hungary, Albania or Solvakia seem to be the best options so far.

The draw for the finals will take place on the 12th December in Paris and we can’t wait for find out. Both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are in Pot 4 so won’t be drawn against each other in the groups.

Who’ll win the tournament? It’s hard to look past Germany really, but Spain, France and Belgium could be in with a shot!

Something Extra: Interactive Guide To Saving Money On Food

We kick off our “Something Extra” collection of blog posts, where we look at cool things we’ve found on the web which might not be Ireland related.

One of our contributors, Sophie, is a massive foodie and has found this interactive guide to saving money on food by AO.com. If you click through and scroll you can follow the journey from supermarket, checkout and then home… with tips throughout. We really like this.


The Waste-less Journey has been created by AO.com

What are your thoughts on that? Who knew you could freeze cheese and milk?! If you’ve got any more tips on saving money in general, let us know and we’ll add to future posts.

Ireland’s Contemporary Architecture

We all know Ireland has amazing historical buildings and architecture, but in recent years more and more modern buildings have been appearing and they look outstanding. We’re taking a look at some of our favourite contemporary architecture you can find. Know of any more buildings we should feature? Let us know…

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre – Dublin

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The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre is a 2,111-capacity theatre in Dublin which opened in 2010. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, this building is eye-catching on the Grand Canal Dock area, complimenting the 3 Arena nearby. It’s a touring theatre for ballet, opera, musicals and concerts and is worth a reported €4.5 million.

Dwelling at Maytree – Wicklow

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This 2 storey house in Wicklow is one of our favourite pieces of architecture we have found. Designed by ODOS in 2008, it was the replacement of an old 1940’s cottage on the same site and sits in the hillside.

Samuel Beckett Bridge – Dublin

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This cable-stayed bridge in Dublin opened up in 2009 and has become part of the scenery. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, it joins Sir John Rogerson’s Quay on the south side of the River Liffey to Guild Street and North Wall Quay in the Docklands area.

Our Favourite Music Festivals In Ireland

We should really be looking at Christmas events and what to do this winter, but we can’t help look ahead to next summer already… music festival season!

We’re not short of music festivals in Ireland with more and more popping up every year, so we’ve decided to take a look at our favourites and ones we definitely won’t be missing (already got tickets for some!) If there’s any you think we’ve missed out, let us know.

Electric Picnic (2-4 September 2016)

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This one’s an obvious choice as pretty much everyone has been before or will be going, but it’s on our calendar every year, we can’t miss it! Electric Picnic is at Stradbally Hall in Co. Laois and boasts a mega line up every year, with the likes of Underworld, Jurassic 5, Tame Impala, MK, Julio Bashmore and even The Vengaboys playing last year.

This one is more than just the music though. You can explore a world of art and creation… the Washing Machine Maze was our personal favourite. There’s also the comedy tents, mindfield spoken word area, circus and the theatre of food (oh yes!). We can’t wait to see what they’ve got up their sleeve for 2016.

Forbidden Fruit (3-5 June 2016)

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Forbidden Fruit Festival is always a good one if you’re near Dublin and you like electronic music. It boasts the best DJ’s and electronic live acts each year with Fatboy Slim, Richie Hawtin, Jamie XX and more playing last year.

Situated in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, it’s not very big but that doesn’t matter when theres a line up that good! It’s 18+ and usually day tickets and weekend tickets are available, no camping though so you need to book a hotel for this one!

Longitude Festival (2016 dates tbc)

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Probably the most eclectic of line ups from this list, Longtitude festival is the sister of Latitude in England and we’re glad it has made it’s way over here. Set in Marlay Park, not far from Dublin, this festival has everything and previous line ups have been perfect (in our eyes anyway), with the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Hudson Mohawke, Bombay Bicycle Club, Alt-J and many more over 4 stages this year, we reckon it’ll be even bigger next.

If you’re a foodie like us, you won’t be dissapointed. There are so many gourmet food stalls, including gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian, which beats the usual festival food. We’ll be getting involved as soon as tickets are announced.

A Guide To Belfast

Belfast offers the buzz and vibrancy of a British capital city whilst being a gateway to the rural retreat of Northern Ireland. Having staged the MTV European Music Awards and the opening stages of the Giro d’Italia in recent years, this city is booming at the moment.

With a great nightflife and being able to see it all by foot, it’s the perfect place for a weekend getaway. We’ve decided to take a look at what it has to offer. Anything we have missed out? Let us know!

Nightlife

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As you saw in our “Top 5 Nightclubs in Ireland” post, Belfast is full of amazing nightclubs and bars no matter what type of music you like. Away from the specialist club nights like ‘Shine’ and ‘The Warehouse’, clubs like ‘Ollie’s’ at The Merchant Hotel are great for cheap drinks through the week and weekends.

If it’s bars/pubs you’re after then The Garrick Bar established in 1870 is the one for you. It’s one of the oldest pubs in Belfast and has a range of over 60 locally and internationally bottled beers and cracking pints of Guinness (of course!)

Things to do in the Day

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Belfast is full of iconic buildings and architecture. One of Belfast’s most iconic buildings, Belfast City Hall first opened its doors in August 1906 and is well worth viewing. It’s located in Donegall Square, in the heart of the city centre.

Ulster Museum in the botanic gardens is also worth a visit. With an array of different exhibitions on there’s always something going down. The modern history areas and art galleries are our favourites and the botanic gardens are fantastic on a sunny day.

Eating Out

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There is something for everyone in Belfast, but one of our favourite food is burrito’s (obviously!) so the best place for us is Kurrito on Botanic Avenue. This place is cheap and tasty, and exactly what we need.

If it’s a special occasion or something a bit fancier you want, OX, 1 Oxford Street is amazing! It’s been voted in the Top 50 restaurants in the world and has a Michelin star. Be warned though its not cheap! The lunch menu might be a bit more in budget.

Celebrities You Might Not Have Known Were Irish

After Michael Fassbender’s appearance on The Graham Norton Show last week, We completely forgot he was Irish as we’re so used to him in character, most recently as Steve Jobs. It got us thinking… which celebrities out there are Irish without us even knowing!

Pierce Brosnan

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Our favourite James Bond yet… Pierce Brosnan is Irish. Born in Drogheda, County Louth in 1953, he lived in County Meath for 12 years before heading off to meet up with his mother in London. He still calls Ireland his home!

Olivia Wilde

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American in accent, but Olivia is Irish at heart. She grew up in Ireland as a child after being born to British-Irish parents. Both her parents were journalists working in London, shortly moving back to Ireland after Olivia arrived. Original name, Olivia Cockburn.

Jamie Dornan

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Now a Hollywood actor, Jamie was actually born in Holywood, County Down. He shot to fame after playing Mr Grey in 50 Shades Of Grey, he grew up in Belfast before moving to England for University.

Tom Cruise

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Tom Cruise’s is of part Irish ancestry, with his great-great-great granfather born in Dublin, which makes him one of us! Cruise was given a certificate of Irish heritage last year and also played an Irishman in “Far And Away” (although the accent wasn’t the best!)

Other notable names: Robert de Niro, Megan Fox, Demi Lovato, Leona Lewis, Charlie Sheen (all Irish ancestry, lets have them…)