He’s a soap star who spends half the year in Spiddal and the other in Venice; he’s a journalist who mixes with the stars – and now Domhnall O’Donoghue has drawn the various strands of his life together, mixing them with a vivid imagination, to produce his debut novel.
The man, better known in these parts as the character Pádraig Ó Loinsigh in the TG4 drama Ros na Rún, instantly credits that combination of Spiddal and Venice in helping him get his creative juices flowing ahead of its launch.
O’Donoghue, who is also assistant editor with Irish Tatler Man magazine, divides his time between spending six months a year in Venice and the other six months on Connemara coastline.
“What’s great about working out in Spiddal is there are very few distractions. So I’m not distracted by city life or going out so that gives me a lot of time to focus as a journalist and indeed my work as an author so to speak,” he explains.
The book, which has been described as a “comic thriller”, follows the pursuit of a 118 year old nun whose final ambition in life is to claim the title of the world’s oldest person and will do whatever means necessary to reach that goal.
He derived his idea from a newspaper article that he read following the death of the oldest woman in the world. The following week he then heard that the next oldest person had passed away.
“In my mind I started going is there someone out there killing all these old people for some reason,” he quipped.
“So that was in my head and along with the religious influences of Venice I mixed the two together.
“Being in Venice really influenced the story because when I came over I had a completely different idea in my head but then for the first few weeks I was just going around to museums, churches and galleries. I really started to take notice of the level of Catholicism and the influence of religious art.
“I have always had the curiosity to strip away the armour when it comes to religious people we have seen like priests and nuns and see the person behind. Nuns and priests have goals too as ridiculous as they may seem like we do too.
“So I decided to give this character, who is a nun, this crazy adventure. I firmly believe life has no best before date and we kind of live in this age of society where we say peak once they go beyond the age of 40.
“I just love the idea that people like Sister Agatha just say you know what I’m never, ever going to give up until I’m six feet under, until then I’m going to keep going,” Domhnall explained.
Domhnall’s primary goal as a youngster was to become an actor. He studied acting in Trinity College and continued on to do a Masters in screenwriting at Dún Laoghaire IADT.
His acting career eventually led him all the way to Ros na Rún, where he is soon to start filming the new season of the show.
“When I joined Ros Na Rún five seasons ago I was very, very nervous because I knew a lot of the actors and the crew were there since the launch 20 years ago,” he recalls.
“But within minutes of me being there I was welcomed into the fold. They just have the most extraordinary ability to make a boy like me from the East feel so warm and welcomed.”
From there Domhnall’s career took a slight change and he diverted his attention to writing during his spare time.
Another long term ambition of his was to become a screenwriting but to help pay the bills he began writing columns for magazines, which has seen him progress all the way to assistant editor with Irish Tatler Man magazine.
It’s a job which has seen him interview famous personalities like renowned actor Kevin Spacey, fashion icon Tommy Hilfiger and top British model David Gandy.
“I never actually saw journalism in my life it was more the screen-writing but I would say they are very closely interconnected, similarly to acting and screenwriting,” he admits.
When asked if he had always seen himself writing a book Domhnall responded: “I always seen myself working in television and film and to develop scripts but the reality is with a screenwriter and scriptwriter is you are essentially asking a producer or a network to give you two or three million quid. That’s a tall ask.
“So I thought while I’m waiting for that to happen, I may as well write something that costs nothing and writing a book costs nothing. I thought this would be a good way to get my work out there and even if no one was to read it I was just happy to feel I had written something and achieved something.
“Luckily enough a publishing company came on board and they were really interested and excited which was amazing.”
When asked about his future plans, “I’d love to think I will continue what I’m doing which is incorporating both acting and my writing. I would love to be able to do that. I’d love to be able to develop Sister Agatha into a film possibly which is something which would really excite me and I’ve had interest from a number of producers already.
“I think the things I do complement each other and I know I’m a much better actor because of my work as a writer and I’m a much better writer because of my work as an actor. Even my work as a journalist when I interview people my actor persona comes into play because that actor’s job is to be interested in characters.”
Domhnall has developed a love affair with Galway and now classes it as his “second home.”
“I absolutely adore there and even though I’m in Italy now I cannot wait to go back to Spiddal next week.”
■ “Sister Agatha: The World’s Oldest Serial Killer” will be released as a digital book on August 3, while the print edition will be released in September.