Arts Q&A: Mike Cronin on REM, Kevin Barry, gin & Gillingham FC

Brian Campbell puts artists and writers on the spot about what really matters to them. This week: Professor Mike Cronin, Academic Director at Boston College Ireland in Dublin

Mike Cronin gives a talk about St Patrick in Belfast today

1. When did you think about academia/writing/research as a career and what were your first steps into it?

In my early 20s, I had to decide between taking on a PhD or some kind of career. The PhD won out and I was lucky enough to study under Roy Foster at Oxford. Over the years I have concentrated on topics that are more popular and also believe that it’s important that as well as producing academic books that we encapsulate our ideas into shorter pieces for the media and online. Scholarship has to be accessible.

2. Best gigs/concerts you've been to?

Hugh Masekela, The Violent Femmes at Brixton Academy and Leonard Cohen at Kilmainham in Dublin.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

More birthday than wedding, but I always regret never having seen The Clash.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island?

For a complete album that doesn't have a bad track, probably REM's Automatic for the People.

5. And the book?

Either Malcolm Bradbury's The History Man or Eugene Weber's Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870-1914.

6. Top three films?

We didn't have a cinema in my hometown when I was growing up, so the first film I saw as a teenager was the first Star Wars, which I still love. After that it's Field of Dreams and then Fargo.

7. Worst film you've seen?

Has to be Escape to Victory, even though I can't help but like it.

8. Favourite authors?

Daniel James Brown, Kevin Barry, Colm Toibin.

9. Sports you most enjoy and top teams?

I'll watch test cricket if I've time, but most often football. While in university I had a season ticket at Gillingham so League One still offers a bizarre fascination.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

The south of France or the west of Ireland.

11. Pet hate?


12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? As it's so infrequent, a perfect steak.

Dessert? I don't eat dessert!

Drink? Gin and tonic.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

My wife.

14. Is there a God?

Personally no, but if people have a belief in something I respect that.

Mike Cronin will give his talk The Legacy of St Patrick at The Black Box in Belfast today at 4.30pm (admission is free), as part of the Imagine! festival (

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