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'I've met the nicest people through playing the guitar'

We ask local celebrities what are their most favourite things

By Helen Carson

Published 23/05/2016

Mary O'Driscoll
Mary O'Driscoll

The 61-year-old is owner-manager of the Rathlin Island Ferry Company and is on the steering committee for the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival 2016. She lives in Ballycastle with her husband Ciaran. They have twin sons, Aidan and David (33) and one grandson, Peter (17 months)

My best moment

The day my two sons were born, which was a long time ago. When I got married to Ciaran I thought that was the best day of my life - but then my babies were born and that took over.

My best song

My favourite song is the one I feel most comfortable singing which is The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness sung by Nanci Griffith. I love the song and I love singing it all the time. The first line is "you come home late and you come home early" which is me, so I also identify with it.

My best way to relax

With a glass of Chardonnay sitting in a Ballycastle pub we call Tessies. There is a view of the seafront from the pub and I will be looking out at the vista when the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival is in full swing next week.

My best job

Being a choir master on a cruise ship which I started doing about 10 years ago. Every year since - except for the last one - I go on a cruise ship and my job is to create a choir from the passengers and have them pitch perfect for a show at the end of the voyage. I never get paid but I get my passage and all the lovely food you get on a cruise - so it's not at all good for the waistline. I have been on a 45-day cruise to Auckland; and cruised in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, too. The last one was to Cape Town when I took the chance to visit St Helena and Ascension Island.

My best bit of advice

To be kind and considerate to others. When I was younger I tended to be impetuous, but I have a new attitude which has come with age. Now I think it is important to listen to others people's opinions and form my own opinions slowly. I like the moral from the Kipling poem which says 'If you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you/If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you/But make allowance for their doubting too.'

My best movie

I remember watching Captain Phillips while I was on a cruise ship (the movie starring Tom Hanks is about Somali pirates taking the US container ship Maersk Alabama hostage). In fact, the film attracted the largest audience for any film screened on the cruise. Such a thrilling movie.

My best gift

My father bought me a nylon-string guitar when I was about 11 or 12 which I taught myself to play. At school I teamed up with girls to perform at gigs together. When you can play guitar you get invited places; I have met the nicest people simply because I play the guitar and, ultimately, it led to me working on cruise ships. I still have that guitar, although, it is rather battered now.

My best achievement

My family; our two boys and my gorgeous daughter-in-law and grandson.

My best buy

It has to be my Kindle - I was so excited when Amazon brought this out and I bought one straight away. I love how you get a new book instantly and start reading. I still read books but I love my Kindle.

My best book

My favourite contemporary read is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which is gripping. When it comes to classics I love Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier which I have read four times. I really identify with the geography of the location - it is similar to Ballycastle - with its coastal beauty. I don't have the same dramas in my life though - thank goodness.

The Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival will take place from May 27-June 5. Visit for details

Belfast Telegraph

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