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.
Man on assault charges after allegedly coughing at Tesco workers
A 33-year-old man appeared in custody before Galway District Court this morning on assault charges after allegedly coughing in the direction of two Tesco workers yesterday.
Konrad Prokopczyk, a Polish national who resides with his sister at 70 Esker Hills, Ballinasloe, was arrested by Garda David Sheffield at 5pm on Sunday afternoon at Tesco in Ballinasloe, and brought to the local Garda Station where he was later charged with assaulting both employees, with breaching the peace and with giving a false and misleading name and address.
Garda Sheffield said the accused replied “I didn’t do it” when charged with giving a false name and address and made no reply to the other charges.
Garda Sheffield objected to a possible bail application under the “O’Callaghan rules”, citing the seriousness of the alleged offences and the possibility he may reoffend.
“He showed no remorse and thought the offences funny and was laughing at the two injured parties who are employees at Tesco,” Garda Sheffield told Judge Marie Keane.
Defence solicitor, Martina Moran, who was appointed to represent Prokopczyk under the free legal aid scheme, applied for bail.
She said her client had no previous convictions or outstanding warrants and would abide by any bail conditions set by the court.
Ms Moran said her client was a Polish national who had been in the country for two years and had recently been laid off from his job.
Sergeant Aoife Curley, prosecuting, again objected to bail, saying: “He didn’t seem to be respectful to the Government guidelines regarding Covid-19 and showed no respect for the employees.
“The allegations are he coughed in the direction of both employees and showed no remorse afterwards. There is a fear this type of behaviour might happen again,” she said.
Ms Moran said her client was very aware now of the seriousness of the current situation and was notified of the consequences.
Judge Keane said it was with the greatest of reluctance that she would grant Prokopczyk bail.
“It’s utterly despicable,” she added before remanding the accused on bail to appear before Ballinasloe District Court next Thursday, April 2.
Bail was granted on condition he continue to reside at his address, observe a nightly curfew between 8pm and 8am, comply with Covid-19 Government guidelines, provide a mobile phone number to Gardai to be answered at all times, and not enter any retail outlet of any description during the current emergency.
Multi-agency Covid-19 response forum launched in Galway
A new Covid-19 response forum has been formed in Galway City – with more than a dozen agencies including the City Council, the HSE, Gardaí and COPE Galway.
A dedicated community support helpline will be launched on Monday to assist at-risk members of the public.
Galway City Council is the lead agency in the new ‘Covid-19 Galway City Community Response Forum’.
According to a statement from the Council, the purpose of the forum is to “lead the co-ordination of Covid-19 community supports and resilience and to ensure that there is a co-ordinated community response, enabling all the voluntary and statutory agencies to collaborate in support of our communities and particularly our most vulnerable members”.
The new helpline will assist at-risk members of the public in accessing non-emergency and non-medical supports and advice during the current public health emergency.
“The helpline is focused primarily on ensuring that vulnerable members of the community or those living alone can access deliveries of groceries, medicine and fuels,” the statement reads.
Included in the Covid-19 Galway City Community Response Forum are: Galway City Council; Health Service Executive; An Garda Síochána; Community Welfare Service; Galway City Partnership; Galway City Community Network; Galway Volunteer Centre; COPE Galway and other community, voluntary and sports representatives
“Its core aim is contributing to the community-wide effort to limit the spread of Covid-19. Galway City Council, through this group, will ensure that the wide variety of groups working across the city to assist those in need, will do so in an organised, collaborative and targeted way.
“The Community Response Forum is there to ensure the very best use of the many resources assisting vulnerable persons with their daily needs at this unprecedented time, whether that is collecting medication, food shopping, social support and contact,” the statement reads.
Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, said: “There are a number of agencies currently doing excellent work in delivering care to older and vulnerable people in our communities. These groups are currently operating independently of each other and Galway City Council’s role is to provide a targeted, integrated and coordinated approach to the delivery of these much needed services to our more vulnerable citizens across the city during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Galway City Council is ideally placed both statutorily and regionally to channel this great work and provide the governance structure in partnership with all stakeholders. This public health crisis has changed life for so many, and we are there to help with that change.
“Our own staff whose day-jobs have changed due to this crisis, will be a key resource in the management and operation of this community support programme along with our partner agencies/groups,” said Mr McGrath.
Set to come into effect from Monday, March 30, a dedicated Freephone number will be available in the coming days but in the meantime members of the public can access this new resource by calling Galway City Council on 091 536 400 or by emailing email@example.com
An information leaflet including the new freephone number and other information will be distributed around the city over the coming days.
Government publishes list of ‘essential service providers’
The Government has this evening published the list of essential service providers who are permitted to travel to and from work during the lockdown until April 12.
The following is the guidance issued:
What employers should do
- refer to this guidance to decide whether your organisation is providing an essential service; it is not necessary to seek official authorisation
- if you are providing an essential service, you should identify those employees (including sub-contractors etc) who are essential to the provision of that service and notify them (this can be done by category of employee or by individual; it could include all employees of the organisation)
- if you are providing an essential service, latest public health guidance should be followed at all times
What employees should do
- if your employer notifies you that you are an essential employee, or that you belong to a category of essential employees, you are permitted to travel to and from work
- when travelling to and from work, you should at all times bring with you either a work identification or a letter from your employer indicating that you are an essential employee, as well as one other form of identification
- If you are self-employed, a farmer or agricultural worker, or a member of the clergy, you should carry one form of identification with you at all times.
If you are a volunteer who is working as part of the national community response, you are permitted to travel for that purpose, eg if you are delivering food, supplies or medicine to a person who is cocooned or vulnerable. The Local Government emergency response teams will co-ordinate that response at local level.
Business Continuity and Resilience
All organisations who provide essential services should have business continuity and resilience plans in place. This should take account of the possibility that key workers or key facilities may be impacted by COVID-19.
Non Essential Services
If you are not engaged in the provision of essential services, then you are not permitted to travel to and from work until April 12th 2020.
There will be a grace period until 6pm on Monday March 30th for people who need to make necessary arrangements to wind down their activities in an orderly way. This should however be done in a way that minimises travel and personal interaction as much as possible.
In exceptional circumstances, it is accepted that some extra time will be needed for a wind down of activity, or necessary for a site to continue to operate at a reduced level of activity eg in complex manufacturing processes or very large construction projects.
This Guidance will be kept under ongoing review, and will be updated as required.
Services provided in the following areas are considered to be essential:
Agriculture & Fishing
- farm labourers
- farm relief service workers,
- others involved directly or indirectly in crop and animal production and related activities (including veterinary services), and workers involved in fishing
- the manufacture of food and beverage products
- the manufacture of prepared animal feeds
- the manufacture of work-wear apparel or footwear
- the manufacture of pulp, paper and paperboard and wood;
- the printing and reproduction of newspapers and other media services
- the manufacturing of coke and refined petroleum products
- the manufacturing of alumina; chemicals and chemical products
- the manufacture of pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations
- the manufacture of products necessary for the supply chain of essential services; computer, electronic and optical products including semi-conductors; electrical equipment, machinery and other equipment (including agricultural and forestry machinery); medical devices; and medical and dental equipment and supplies.
Repair and installation of Machinery and Equipment
- the supply, repair and installation of machinery and equipment and industrial machinery and equipment for essential services
Electricity, Gas & Water
- electric power generation, transmission and distribution
- extraction and distribution of gas;
- water collection, treatment and supply
- sewerage; waste collection, remediation activities and other waste management treatment and disposal activities
- essential health and related projects relevant to the COVID-19 crisis, and supplies necessary for such projects;
- repair/construction of critical road and utility infrastructure
- delivery of emergency services to businesses and homes on an emergency call-out basis in areas such as electrical, plumbing, glazing and roofing.
Wholesale and Retail Trade
- retail services in accordance with the separate “Updated Essential Retail Outlets ” list;
- wholesale and distribution services necessary for the sale of food, beverages, fuel, medicines, medical products and devices and essential household products; takeaways and food delivery services
Transport Storage and Communication
- land transport (e.g. bus, rail and taxi services)
- road, rail, sea and air freight
- sea and air passenger services; ports and airports
- warehousing and support activities for transportation including cargo-handling; postal and courier activities; network control and critical maintenance (including roads); and safety related functions
Accommodation and Food Services
- hotels or similar providing essential accommodation (including homeless, direct provision and related services)
- food and beverage service activities in accordance with the separate the essential retail outlets listlist or for supply to a business engaged in an essential service
Information and Communications
- the publishing of newspapers, journals and periodicals as well as video, television programme production, sound recording, radio and television broadcasting; wired and satellite and telecommunications activities; internet and cloud providers; data centres and related services.
Financial and legal activities
- banking and financial services (including banks, credit unions and post offices)
- accountancy, legal and insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people
Professional, Scientific and Technical activities
- engineering, technical testing activities and analysis
- scientific research and development activities
- regulation, inspection and certification services necessary to support essential services
Rental and Leasing Activities
- rental and lease of cars
- light motor vehicles and trucks necessary to support the provision of essential services.
Administrative and Support Services
Where necessary to support other essential services:
- employment placement and human resources associated with the recruitment and deployment of workers
- security activities to assist in the delivery of essential services and the securing of premises closed to the public
- cleaning of buildings and industrial cleaning activities; business support activities which are necessary to support essential services included on this list; payroll and payment services necessary for the operation of businesses; data processing, hosting and related activities.
Public Administration and Defence
Public administration activities necessary to support essential services and provision of social protection benefits (including Civil Service and Local Government);
- An Garda Siochana, Garda Staff and the Garda Reserve
- public order, safety, fire service and ambulance activities
- the Defence Forces;
- emergency call answering service to ensure administration of justice;
- Prison services and Child Detention services
- regulatory processes and certification required to ensure supply chains, food, medicine and general process safety
- operation of botanical gardens, parks, forests and nature reserves
- funeral services
- religious personnel
- office-holders and public representatives
Human health and social work activities
- hospital services
- paramedical and essential therapy activities
- public health activities (including all those deployed to contract tracing and COVID-19 testing services)
- laboratory services
- drug treatment and addiction services
- hospice services
- pharmacy services
- primary care, general and specialist medical practice activities provided by public and private providers
- emergency dental practice activities
- blood donation service
- residential care activities (including nursing care, mental health and substance abuse, elderly and persons with disabilities, children’s residential services)
- homecare home help and other community services
- social work and social care activities (including disability services, mental health, child protection and welfare, domestic, sexual and gender based violence, homeless services including outreach)
- ambulance/pre-hospital emergency care services
- minor injury units
- maternity services
- health, social work, environmental, food safety regulatory activities
- community and voluntary workers, working in a publicly commissioned service, not otherwise included on the list, deployed to assist in the delivery of essential services *volunteer services operating under the local authority emergency management framework in accordance with public health guidance