Richard Corrigan: On My Culture Radar

Meath-born restauranteur on ditching work to see A Lazarus Soul and the allure of Rotterdam

Current favourite book 
When I feel like laughing, I read Kurt Vonnegut. Right now, I'm reading The Crimean War: A History, by Orlando Figes. I picked it up in a charity shop in Muswell Hill and I'm enjoying it. I like anything to do with history – it defines the past and the future. I've always had an interest in it, coming from Ireland. I like to know why, what, and how, especially how conflicts could have been avoided.

There's a place called Lignum – Latin for wood – in Loughrea, Co Galway, by a young boy called Danny Africano. He's Italian-Irish and he's hand-built a restaurant down in the countryside. It's this sleek, Japanese-meets-Scandinavia-meets-rural Ireland restaurant, with bedrooms attached [opening in 2020]. I mean, come on, hats off. It's unbelievable. Ireland has come a long way for me to visit a place like that, which I did a month ago. The food was modern Irish and all cooked on wood – a bit like we do in Daffodil Mulligan in London. I try to avoid places with lots of courses, so it's the only one I've gone to in years. I drank some amazing wines too. It's the future. I was humbled by everything.

Who's that Scottish mad b*****d from BBC Radio 4? Frankie Boyle. Because you can never be too provocative as a comedian. Everything is up for discussion, and it's only comedy. When we take comedy seriously, we need our head examined. We're all there to be ridiculed, so let the comedian ridicule everybody. Let's all not get all Nazi Germany.

I went to see Cyprus Avenue at the Royal Court Theatre in London not too long ago. It was about a guy from Belfast who thought his baby was Gerry Adams, and it was f***ing amazing. It shows the great fun of Ireland, the great dislike we have of the colours and who you represent; orange, green, unionist, nationalist, this summed it all up beautifully. Brilliant, Irish, unbelievable.


I like Charlie Tyrrell, he's Ireland's leading abstract boy. I commissioned two pieces from Charlie for Virginia Park Lodge and asked him to hang it on the wall. There's nothing like commissioning a painting and getting the painter to hang it himself. And I like Alan Parker, who sometimes does portraits, but looks at nature wonderfully. I just commissioned a piece from him of wild salmon. We'll hang it in Bentley's in London. Alan has a painting of me somewhere but I told him to keep it, and maybe give it to someone when I'm not on this earth. I'd never ask for a portrait – it's the highest form of self-indulgence. I don't ever intend to let it happen to me.

I'm listening to two albums at the moment, both are Irish at its best. One of them is Lankum's The Livelong Day; the other is A Lazarus Soul's The D They Put Between the R & L. A Lazarus Soul have only done a couple of gigs in Ireland this year and I went to see both of them: All Together Now, and I flew in to Dublin last Thursday even though it was in the middle of a disaster before the opening of Daffodil Mulligans. Brian Brannigan has to be one of the best songwriters living in Ireland. It's unbelievable that they can't get airplay in Ireland, it's outrageous.

I lived in Rotterdam and Amsterdam for years before I lived in London, and I loved them both. Rotterdam is my favourite because it's gritty, industrial and it's creative. I'm still half Dutch in my head. If you ask me a question, it might not be the answer you want, but at least it's a good, straight answer, and the Dutch are brilliant at that. I lived in Delfshaven, in a top-storey room right across a Pilgrim's Church. I looked out on to the top of the kerk, and I used to go there every New Year's Eve as the wonderful Rotterdam Philharmonic would play a New Year's Eve concert there. It was a most beautiful introduction to classical music.

The last one I listened to was the Stay Free: The Story of The Clash. It lit up many late evenings. Believe it or not, we were around each other in Soho, and hanging out in the Colony Room Club. By no means was he my best friend, he had his own group, but he was always polite and incredibly generous. The podcast tells the whole story: Joe Strummer joining The Clash, the touring, the break up, everything. All of Joe's life, which is quite sad. Out of incredible creativity, there's a heap of sadness piled somewhere else too.

My kitchen drawers and full of bits and bobs, and even though I know I'll never use them, I can't allow myself to throw them out. When I was looking for things to take into Daffodil Mulligans, I found a battery-operated mini whisk. I mean, f**k me, that's unbelievable. What was I thinking. It must have been from the days when you needed froth on top of everything.