Thursday December 08, 2016

Emma Donoghue's musical tribute to Dublin, Ireland

Author Emma Donoghue's newest book, The Wonder, is her first historical story set in her homeland of Ireland.

Author Emma Donoghue's newest book, The Wonder, is her first historical story set in her homeland of Ireland. (Punch Photographic)

Listen 8:36

In a segment we call the q Block Party, we invite guests to pay musical tribute to the neighbourhoods they hold dear to their hearts. 

Today, author Emma Donoghue, author of Room which was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film last year, takes us to her hometown of Dublin, Ireland. Although she doesn't live in Dublin anymore, Donoghue still has some strong ties to the music and culture of Ireland. When asked what the spirit of Dublin is, she said it is "rueful, melancholic and it likes to take the piss out of things."

Below are Donoghue's song picks and her reasons behind them.


U2, "Bad"
"Oh god, music is ridiculously emotive, isn't it. I'm a teenager again; I just got a Sony Walkman with earphones. It was the first time I had music privately in my head as opposed to my parents playing Chopin loudly. I'm a tormented teenager and nobody understands me except Bono, that's what I feel!" 

Hot House Flowers, "Don't Go"
"This track, all about sunshine and birds and bees and flowers, is a very rare event for us. Compared to the usual melancholy, constant rain of Dublin, this sort of Californian touch reminds me of those rare, extraordinary sunny days in Ireland."

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, "Falling Slowly"
"I loved this film, it's a low-budget little dazzler. I think this is the Irish musical tradition at its best for me, even though it's a contemporary song. I brough my kids to this musical because I didn't want a musical with much sex or death in it. It's such a moving story, especially the fact that it's an unconsummated love. It's a brief encounter for the modern age."

The Chieftains and The Corrs, "I Know My Love" 
"I really like the fact that it's a traditional Irish song with a very irreverent female speaker, but it's given this very pop treatment. I never liked traditional Irish music while I lived there but the minute I emigrated, I started to be deeply moved by hearing 'Danny Boy' on the London underground. So, I think, tradition for a lot of people starts to really have a pull on them once they feel they've lost that home culture." 

Sinead O'Connor, "Molly Malone" 
"She's a very controversial figure in Ireland. We never quite know what she's going to come out with and sometimes she behaves in embarrassing ways, but she's the most powerful performer. I particularly treasured the fact that when I started hearing her music in the '80s, she was such a fearlessly androgynous figure — she was the opposite of the pretty girlies."