CELEBRITY InTERvIEw Pictures courtesy of Kevin McDaid
Ireland’s biggest pop group sit down with Woman’s Way
to talk albums, gigs... and hot chocolate By Áine Toner
6 Woman’s Way, December 20, 2010
In 10 years of being in journalism, I had never ‘Do you know think we need the big chunky guitars’ it’s from, it’s completely different when you’re given
met Westlife, until a few weeks ago. The idea of and he went in and started playing. a song and you’re trying to put as much emotion
interviewing my Very Favourite Group In The World N: The same thing happened after we ﬁnished into a song that’s written for you so it’s believable for
Ever™ surprisingly greatly appealed to me. It all recording the BVs [backing vocals] on Safe, and we the person at home. When you’ve written a song, it’s
went so well, there were laughs and jokes and I even were about to send it to [Simon] Cowell and the record beautiful and an amazing thing and the ﬁrst time in
got my picture taken with the fab four. However, how label, and we said, ‘The backing vocals need to come 12 years that I’ve experienced that. But it’s tough but I
devastated was I when I realised that the camera didn’t up louder because otherwise it’s going to sound like don’t envisage doing it again, certainly to the bone as
work and the only time I’d ever met Westlife was never a Shane and Mark duet and otherwise, the BVs are we’ve done, but to go that deep was a one-off.
to be seen on ﬁlm? Gutted. That said, I still had a ball with minimal.’ So he understood and raised them.
the lads as they promoted their new album, Gravity. S: He let us co-produce the album in a way. He iAnrteoytohue lOo2o?king forward to getting
was very relaxed; it was very organic in a way and
Gthreavruitlye ibsodoeksc–riisbtehdaatstryuoeu?tearing up he wanted us to have an amazing album, which M: We’ve played most venues around Ireland but
we do. We’re so excited for people to hear it, we’ve never been in the new O2, that’s going to be fun.
Nicky: I don’t know about tearing up the rule book especially if you’re a Westlife fan, or even a pop fan People always say that the arenas must be great, and
but it’s probably the most real album for us. We met – it’s deﬁnitely Westlife’s own and moving in a better they are, they’re fantastic, but I always enjoy the small
[producer] John Shanks at just the right time and we’d direction we feel. gigs. I think that’s proof – we very much enjoy playing
probably say, ’Yeah, you’re going to love this album.’ Croke Park but it could not be called intimate in any
way. The O2 is deﬁnitely going to be fun. There’s no
So it’s your favourite album? denying that Croke Park is amazing fun but a multiple
run of shows in the O2 is exciting for us.
Shane: It’s the best album we’ve ever made. It’s K: The last one was amazing. We did come away
the most complete album. We’re the most happy talking about doing that and it is something we’d
with the ﬁnished product. With other albums, we consider, but probably not in the next year. We’ve got
thought there was something we could or should the big tour, we’ve plans for the next year.
have done, you notice this within a week or two od N: I think the next Christmas  may work, as we
ﬁnishing, but as an album, it’s deﬁnitely the most may do a Greatest Hits album and it would lend itself
complete we feel. We’re not saying it couldn’t get well to a tour. It would be great to get to parts of
better with the next album but for the moment, it’s Ireland that you’ve never been to before.
where we need to be as a band.
N: It’s got everything. What’s the secret to your longevity?
Kian: We’ve become a type of band, we’re older
now, we’re not the young boy band we used to be. K: I am the secret!
When we started on this album, and the last album S: I think it’s down to the fact that we love doing what
in particular, we had taken a year off a few years ago we do. It’s not plain sailing either; it’s a normal job, but
and when we came back, I think we all knew that we all get on. We get on more as we’ve gotten older,
something needed to change for all of us, we needed we’ve more respect for each other and things are
to do things that made us happy as people rather than going on that they want to do but still be in Westlife.
what made the record people happy, rather than what K: Westlife has given us the opportunity to do so many
was going to sell the most records. different things.
S: You’re given more respect for Westlife because of
At this point, Nicky’s playing with his rather snazzy it. Everything is talked about – that shows the respect
between us all. We look after each other.
hot chocolate spoon, only to have Kian tell him off
K: We know where our priorities lies, we know what
for almost spilling the drink on his jeans. “We always want to have side our bread is buttered o0n, and we use our
more fans and become a bigger nowledge and experience of each other to do what
Are you the group’s mammy, Kian? band, to keep getting better” we do.
S: Kian is the mammy and the daddy and the boss! DtWhoeinsyktol,iuf‘eSe’o?vderith, Iadvoend’tawysawnthteonbyeoiun
Dthoeryeoaunaollrhgaavneisdeideorneen,tertoc?les – is N: Absolutely, about 5.30 in the morning!
Mark: There’s a little bit of that, it’s probably 50 per cent K: I dragged myself out of bed this morning at 6.20 and
that and 50 per cent that everyone does what they can. Do you think pop is still alive? I wasn’t a happy bunny!
M: 3.15am a few weeks ago!
aDlobuyomuofneecel pareyessaurr?ed to put out an S: Pop is very much alive, I think boybands are very N: We did The X Factor last weekend, we went to a club
alive – Take That, JLS, us, The Wanted, One Direction afterwards until about 3, and about two hours later
– there are 16 to 40-year-olds and it’s never been like we have to get up – that’s when we don’t want to be
S: No, I don’t think it’s pressure. I think, as a band, we that before. I think Take That coming back inspired a
want to improve every year. Last year’s album was lot of bands to come together, it inspired us to say that
S: It’s kind of like your dad. You always want to
probably our best album to date but we didn’t feel we could still be going in 10 years time because they’re ring and get his approval when you do something
because he still talks to us like we’re 12! That’s one
it was complete. We worked with a lot of different better than they ever were now, and they inspire us to of the main reasons why we’re so grounded – he’s a
very passionate manager and he’s so protective of us
producers but we wanted to work with John Shanks be a better band. We’re selling millions of albums but – but it’s why we don’t take anything for granted. He
doesn’t like anyone saying anyone bad about us. He’s
for a long time and to ﬁnd him and get on so well our songs could be a lot better – we want to get songs like the ﬁfth member. WW
Gravity is available in all music shops nationwide
with him was great. He was so open to all our ideas; of the quality of Rule The World. We started to up our
he was pushing us to write, wanting us to write about game. We always want to have more fans and become
our dads, get personal – he wanted to get something a bigger band, to keep getting better.
that was our sound – they we could create something lGTfiashrttaehevrneeirtbasy’aradecbekvaoettourhy?t –NpaeicrrkseyotnahanelydsdKoiinagncs’usoltnto
together. We got all excited, everyday we were
wondering what we was going to happen that day.
K: It made it more like our creation. Rather than turn
up and do a vocal, you’ve involved in the whole
process. There was one day when we were doing Safe N: It’s difﬁcult to listen to but I’m proud to listen to it
and we were about to send it into the studio and I said, too, but it’ll always be like that. I know exactly where
Woman’s Way, December 20, 2010 7
Darina Allen talks good food,family life,Christmas dinner and
Gordon Ramsay in a Woman’s Way exclusive By Aisling Kennedy
Every home should have a Darina Allen.A culinary she can,reiterating her belief that good Irish food and think honestly there’s a lot of truth in that.
genius,busy career woman,doting grandmother family are all an integral part of her life. “I think the family that eats together, stays together.
and I suspect,adept at quite literally doing
anything she sets her mind to,she’s a true lady “My message has and always will be the same – for I’m a huge believer in the importance of sitting down
goodness sake buy as much local food as possible! It’s around the kitchen table and having a bit of a supper
or breakfast together.It doesn’t matter even if you’re
who embodies the notion of good home cooking. in season,it’s fresh and it’s less expensive.Not only will it arguing, one is still keeping the lines of communication
open.It’s just so important.So I do believe it’s a huge
As she prepares for our shoot in a cosy heated nourish your family but it will nourish the community in help because nothing comes easily and one has to
work at everything in life.”
photography studio in Dublin,the chef in her comes the sense that it puts money back into the local farmers.
So when it comes to Christmas dinner this year will it just
out when I hand her a Christmas pudding with icing on So at least you know you’re giving the money to local be her,her mother-in-law Myrtle Allen and her daughter-in-
farmers,ﬁshermen,butchers and bakers,and that law Rachel Allen doing all the cooking?
top to hold during her shots.
makes such a difference,particularly nowadays. “We all have to cook Christmas dinner on Christmas
She looks at it with an eyebrow raised and says: “It’s Day.It’s sort of a tradition, everybody has a little job
“To me that’s real genuine patriotism because it lets from the smallest children to the grown ups and
missing something.”As the two of us scan the room we both Myrtle is a great one for making a long list and giving
you look after your own ﬁrst and foremost.If people everybody their little job to do.”
spot twigs of holly in the corner and off she goes to claim it
andfashionthehollyaroundthepuddingasonlyachefwith spent 20-25 per cent of their weekly spend on food So there won’t be any Gordon Ramsay-type strops?
determinedly buying local,what a difference it would “No not at all! I worry a bit about Gordon being a role
an eye for detail can.“Much better!”she smiles. model for young chefs though,even though he’s an
make to the local and Irish economy.” absolutely brilliant chef,because they seem to feel that
That’s the thing about Darina,she’s always on the sort of macho thing,and the same with Marco Pierre
Darina’s other love in life is her family. White,is the way to behave in the kitchen.And it totally
look out for ideas to make food look better and taste isn’t and doesn’t have to be like that.I mean you don’t
“We’ve got four children who are all married now have to terrorise people to do good food that people
more appetising without even realising she’s doing it. enjoy.It’s more about entertainment these days but
and seven grandchildren.I’m terrible,I spoil my when I was doing my programme I desperately wanted
She quite literally lives and breathes good food.Try as I to be able to teach people how to cook something
they didn’t know how to cook.It was terribly important
may to talk to her about her family life in Ballymaloe and light up“SwhohpenatshsiesytasnetesI’’emyeasgranny to me that the programme didn’t just ﬁll air time but it
actually made a difference to people’s lives.”
what her passions in life are,invariably the conversation So would she like to go back onTV again?
comes back to food.It’s quite unintentional,but for “Yes I’d be delighted to go back on TV again and go
Darina food is the basic recipe for life and without it life back as a granny this time passing on the skills.Times
are tough but as long as we have our health and we
simply wouldn’t be worth its salt (pardon the pun!). who has no self control!” can actually cook, that’s the really important thing.
“There was always cooking going on in my house as Maybe we can even start to have a few hens in the
garden again, wouldn’t that be grand! I sound like such
I was growing up.There were nine of us and my mother an old granny but there you are!”WW
was a really good cook,she just loved food.I think if your grandchildren rotten! I just feel,and indeed many With thanks to
parents love food it rubs off on you and ours was a house grandparents would,the huge blessing that it is to be
where Daddy would always give Mummy a hug after MAKE-UP: Adele Miley. To book an appointment, tel:
fortunate enough to have your grandchildren close by 086 849 2219 or email: [email protected]. For more
dinner.He had a very strong feeling about the importance to see them almost every day.We see them all the time information log onto www.adelemiley.com
of hugging the cook and so after she cooked a delicious and we have family suppers several nights a week.We HAIR: Kazumi Hair Salon, 36 Molesworth Street, Dublin
meal he would say to us,‘Now don’t forget to say thank 2. To book an appointment, tel: 01 678 5004 or log onto
just absolutely love it.And I mean talk about spoiling www.kazumihair.ie
you to Mammy for that lovely dinner.’” PHOTOGRAPHY: Barry McCall Studios, 9 Bond Street,
them,I’m absolutely a sucker! I’m one of the hopeless Dublin 8. To book an appointment, tel: 01 416 6888
Darina paints an idyllic picture of her childhood with grannies who when I see something or when I go into
a garden where they used to grow,produce and eat
a store,I see the shop assistants’eyes lighting up when
their own food,kept hens for their eggs,and even had a they see I’m a granny who has no self control!
house cow where they got their milk.
“I go shopping quite rarely because I’m not very often in
“We used to eat with the season because that’s the
the city but when I do I often see little things that I want to
way it was back then.I remember when electricity
bring back and then I have to try to make excuses to give
came to our village when I was about nine so I mean I
them to the kids! Obviously my children don’t want me to
remember life before electricity! Everything one ate was spoil their children and they’re quite right too,there should
in season because that’s all you had.So I was brought
really be a reason for giving a present.So I sometimes have
up in an ethos of good simple food because that’s the
something and I think,‘Why can’t I give it to them now?’”
way the Irish culture was at that time.”
Darina herself has been married to Myrtle Allen’s son
Living off the land and growing her own food has
Tim Allen since 1970 and when asked about what the
stayed with Darina throughout the years,so much
secret to a successful marriage is she laughs and says,
so that at Ballymaloe where Darina runs her cookery
“Well I don’t know! Basically I believe that you are blessed
school,she and her family grow everything they can
with it and you have to work at it.One has ones ups and
organically on their 100-acre organic farm.She’s also a
downs but basically I’m a huge believer of the old line,
huge believer in buying local and does this as much as ‘The way to everybody’s heart is through their tummy.’I
8 Woman’s Way, December 20, 2010
‘‘I worry a bit about Gordon
Ramsay being a role model for young chefs
● Certain things like the DARINA’S
cranberry sauce and bread
sauce can be made ahead TToippsr C r ﬆm s
of the day so make a list of
what you have to do and
plan it out in advance.
● Save stale white bread and
make your own bread crumbs.
Use for stufﬁng’,bread,sauces,or gratins.
● Don’t be intimidated by Christmas,don’t
feel you have to make everything.Have MPLUUMMMYP’US DDING
a go at making mince meat or Christmas
pudding yourself this year.Then next
year try something different.
● Make stock syrup The plum pudding can be made from about
for home-made mid-November onwards.This recipe makes two
lemonade – a large or three medium puddings.The large size
delicious non- will serve 10-12 people, the medium 6-8 but I
alcoholic also like to make teeny weeny ones.
You will need:
350g/12oz raisins ● 350g/12oz sultanas
350g /12oz currants ● 350g /12oz brown sugar
● 350g/12oz white breadcrumbs (non GM)
● 350g /12oz ﬁnely-chopped beef suet
● 110g /4oz ,diced candied peel (preferably
home-made) ● 2 Bramley cooking apples,
coarsely grated ● 110g /4oz chopped
almonds ● Rind of 1 lemon ● 3 pounded
cloves (½ teaspoon) ● A pinch of salt
● 6 eggs ● 62ml (2½ ﬂ oz) Jamaica Rum
● Mix all the ingredients together very thoroughly
and leave overnight. Next day stir again for good
measure. Fill into pudding bowls,cover with a
double thickness of greaseproof paper which
has been pleated in the centre,and tie it tightly
under the rim with cotton twine,making a twine
handle also for ease of lifting.
● Steam in a covered saucepan of boiling water
for 6 hours. The water should come half way
up the side of the bowl. Check every hour or
so and top up with boiling water if necessary.
After 5 hours, 3 hours, 2 hours depending
on the size, remove the pudding. Allow to
get cold and re-cover with fresh greaseproof
paper. Store in a cool dry place until required.
● On Christmas Day or whenever you wish to
serve the plum pudding,steam for a further
2 hours. Turn the plum pudding out of the
bowl onto a very hot serving plate,pour over
some whiskey or brandy and ignite. Serve
immediately on very hot plates
with Brandy Butter.
● You might like to decorate the
plum pudding with a sprig of
holly; but take care not to set
the holly on ﬁre – as well
as the pudding!
© Copyright Ballymaloe Cookery School
Darina’s book Forgotten Skills (€30)
is out now in all good book stores.
Woman’s Way, December 20, 2010 9