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All the best: Writer Martin Lynch on his favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The 64-year-old writer, director and producer has written such acclaimed plays as Dockers and The Chronicles of Long Kesh. He lives in Belfast and has two daughters, Grainne (28) and Briege (26).

My best moment

In recent times it was the morning President Obama got elected. It was an amazing, joyous time to see a black man and a Democrat elected to the job of running the biggest country in the world. It was a big step for the human race.

My best song

Madame George, by Van Morrison, as it’s most beautiful song in the history of popular music. It lasts about five or six minutes and he goes on a real emotional journey in it. I came back to Van Morrison recently after not listening to him for about 10 years and that song blew me away.

My best way to relax

Either reading or gardening. I don’t have a large garden, but for me there’s nothing better than getting my hands into soil and watching things grow. I also get the chance to switch off, as after I’ve finished I sit and just watch the garden for a while.

My best job

The best job I ever had was in 1970, when I spent the summer packing tomatoes in a factory in Guernsey. The factory was full of people from Belfast, London, Birmingham and some from France. Even though all I did was tip tomatoes into a vat to be graded, we had the best craic.

My best advice

It’s a strange one, but I grew up working on the docks and you did get involved in scrapes back then. My dad advised me that if that happened to stand sideways and hold your arm out lengthways. It keeps the other guy at a distance and means it’s hard to get a kick in the crotch.

My best gift

My sister Chris gave me a couple of little plants 10 years ago — or so I thought. They turned out to be trees and they’re now planted in my garden.

My best achievements

Coming from a family of dockers, this would be leaving school at 15 and being able to carve out a career as a playwright. This was never planned for me and I wasn’t taught how to do it. No one discussed your future then, my dad wouldn’t have cared if I had burnt the school down. I’ve done all this through my own graft.

My best buy

That has to be my house. I bought my first home quite late — just 10 years ago — and it really is my home.

My best film

The one that had a huge impact on me was The Godfather, starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. I remember watching it in the old Ritz Cinema and I found myself literally sitting on the edge of my seat.

My best book

I’ve loved the novels of Brian Moore but the book that made me stop and think was The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell. I read it in my 20s and it was about how he thought workers were far too good to their employers — it is a testament to socialism.

They say that book won the 1945 election in a landslide for the Labour Party.

  • Martin Lynch is directing the new Brenda Murphy play Baby It’s Cold Outside, which runs at the Grand Opera House from March 2–7. For tickets and information, visit

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