The writing’s on the wall – graffiti in Ireland

The Drogheda Graffiti Jam of 2012

The Drogheda Graffiti Jam of 2012

Hopping a fence and scrambling down the overgrown banks of the river Boyne by the side of a bridge in Drogheda is an unusual activity for a hazy Sunday afternoon. A cloying smell of spray paint hits about half-way down, as three young be-hoodied pups, taking it in turns to cover a side wall with colour, look up and then carry on with the task at hand.

Under the Bridge of Peace, groups of older lads are having a smoke as they contemplate their work. On both sides of the river, the gigantic internal supports of the bridge are covered in half-completed large-scale graffiti work. At the foot of the walls are dozens of cans of spraypaint; ladders and pulleys rest against the stone-work.

It’s the annual Bridge Jam in Drogheda, the biggest event in the Irish graffiti calendar. It is a highlight of the year for the Co Louth town and one of the longest-running and most reputable events in the world of international graffiti. The Jam is organised by RASK, the ‘godfather of Irish graffiti’. He had chuckled at the description a few days earlier, saying that, having recently turned 40, he was more like the grandfather of Irish graffiti.

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The Hot Press Interview with Conor Harrington

Conor Harrington Underbelly (Martha Cooper)

Conor Harrington Underbelly (Martha Cooper)

This fortnight’s edition of Hot Press magazine hit the stands on Wednesday, with a big interview  conducted by my good self with Irish-born and London-residing street and fine artist Conor Harrington.

It kicks off a mini-series I’m working on for the magazine about different aspects of street art, where I’ll touch base with some of the key players in the various outdoor art scenes linked to Ireland.

Sometimes dismissed as vandalism, the scene of recent years has not only produced fascinating work in its own right but also launched some remarkably successful careers.

In this issue, Conor spoke to me at length about what drives artists to brave the wrath of the law and paint illegally and how his work took him on a dark excursion into the bowels of the Paris Metro as a participant in the very rare Underbelly project.

Grab a copy of Hot Press to find out more.

Video Interview with Texas Frontwoman Sharleen Spiteri

I was thrilled to interview Sharleen Spiteri of Texas for Irish music and culture magazine Hot Press this week – a big day for me as I loved her as a teenager – and they caught it on video.

The lovely Ms Spiteri was in Dublin for the launch of this year’s Arthur’s Day celebrations, which feature Texas as a headline act.

This is what Sharleen Spiteri of Texas had to say to Monica Heck for Hot Press.

The interesting bit about this year’s line-up is that a) they’ve ditched the ticketing system and b) any artist could appear in any pub in Ireland, as people across the country vote for their local pub to be the host of one of the big names on the bill including Tinie Tempah, Ellie Goulding, Amy Macdonald, Fatboy Slim and Mika.

The winning names will be a secret until the night so nobody knows who’s about to walk through the door. And all the events are free. Voting is online until September 16.

Hot Press also interviewed Amy Macdonald at the launch.


This is my personal link to Texas, that song was so big when I was a teen it always brings me back:

Review: Neon Asian Street Food

I picked Neon as  my restaurant of the fortnight when I was asked to provide a short suggestion for the Hot Press section of the same name because I fell in love with the place after it fed me and catered for my sweet tooth all for under a tenner one very lucky lunchtime I was hanging around Camden street. See why:

Restaurant of the fortnight: NEON

Restaurant of the fortnight: NEON

12 Step Planet: Lebanon

Beautiful Lebanon (copyright Monica Heck)

Beautiful Lebanon (copyright Monica Heck)

In April 2010 I travelled to Lebanon in what was a life-changing trip for many reasons. It came at a particularly good time, when I needed a break from Ireland and my life there. I boarded a plane, switched off my phone and jumped into what was to become the most treasured adventure I’ve ever had.

I was lucky enough to be hosted by some of the nicest people on earth, my friend Michele and her wonderful mother Fadia and was welcomed with open arms by family and friends throughout Easter week. I saw the sights and hung out in the sun, went out at night and sampled the crazy nightlife of Beirut.

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Review: Madonna at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin

Original article posted on the Hot Press website.

It rained but still, she came. What started as drizzle quickly turned into a sustained shower and it was with wrinkled fingers and drenched to the bone that fans greeted the long awaited First Lady of Pop. And she meant business.

Toting guns and blowing out the brains of acrobatic dancers-turned-killers while swigging whiskey, it was clear Madonna is neither too old nor too tame to want to shock. If the gloopy brain matter splattered on screen wasn’t gross enough, the sustained sound of shattering limbs accompanying her posse of contortionists later on in the show was sure to repulse even the most unfazed.

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