Weekend Q&A: The Ulster Orchestra's Patrick McCarthy on Parkrun, pizza and family time

Patrick McCarthy (47) is head of artistic planning and operations at the Ulster Orchestra

Patrick McCarthy, head of artistic planning and operations at the Ulster Orchestra
Jane Hardy

How do you unwind at the weekend?

Most Friday evenings the orchestra is working and we've been busy with projects including the Belfast International Arts Festival so the weekend doesn't usually start for me until Saturday morning. I've done a Parkrun most Saturdays for the last five or six years, and now my wife Jacqueline and our two children Róisín (12) and Fintan (10) all come along too, which is fun. Antrim Castle Gardens is our closest, but we like Stormont and Falls Park. A Saturday morning run puts you in a great place for the whole weekend ahead.

What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

I grew up in the north of England, and all my first musical experiences were through the world of brass bands, where I learned to play the cornet. Saturdays usually meant a concert somewhere, and always a rehearsal on Sunday mornings. Then back home for a roast dinner.

Friday night or Saturday night?

If we don't have a concert, then Saturday night is pizza night. We get a dough going on Friday for a 24-hour rise (the Rachel Roddy one from The Guardian is the best in our view) and cook the pizzas in our really basic, loose brick oven in the garden.

Have you a must-listen weekend radio show or podcast?

I think the Blindboy Podcast presented by the guy from The Rubber Bandits is hugely original. Whether he's talking about art, music, Irish history or mental health, it's always engaging or provocative. He has great guests too; his recent chat with writer Manchán Magan on the roots of Irish language was brilliant.

Have you a must-see weekend TV show/box set?

We're just coming to the very end of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, so we'll be bereft when it's finished.

Do you have a favourite eatery, or is it a takeaway?

We all love The Pocket, tucked behind Bittles Bar in the middle of town. Superb coffee, great staff. We ate in Deerah last week, a new Lebanese café almost opposite the Central Library. Good hummus, breads, falafel, and so this is a new favourite.

Is Sunday still special?

Yes, in the sense that it's a day where we prioritise family time together.

How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?

Sunday night feels like the last chance to do something fun before the madness of the working week. A great film that all four of us can watch is usually the way to go.

The Ulster Orchestra performs Electric Arcade, a concert of game music, under conductor Eimear Noone on October 23 at the Grand Opera House as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival, 028 9024 6609 (box office),

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