Tea with Tina

Tea with Tina_Jason and Tina

Since I’m at the end of my wonderful time here at the NewsFour office I thought it would be an appropriate time to say goodbye and farewell and say thank you to everyone who has been reading my articles over the past four years.

Ann Ingle was the Editor when I first started with NewsFour and she was very accommodating and helpful. I wrote my first article on damaged Daffodils in Ringsend Park which had been vandalised the day before (pretty hard hitting stuff). From then on it got better and I met lots of interesting people from boat builders to bodhrán makers and two of my articles made the front page; Return of the Ferryman (April 2011) and more recently Abundant Grace (Dec 2012).

My favourite part of being a journalist over the past four years was highlighting all the up and coming artists and bands and creating popular segments of the paper like the Artist in Profile and the Culinary Corner. My only regret in the past four years would be taking Dublin Bus at face value; I had been covering all bus service schedule changes when I got a letter of complaint from them saying I had not covered their side of the argument. When I did approach them for their side of the story all I got was misinformation which unfortunately went to print.

After telling our new assistant editor Caomhán about all the jobs I had in the area he thought it would make a great article. After leaving School in 1987 I went to the Regal House, Ringsend and started a catering course. We used to get the best of meat from Clyne’s Butchers and our veg from the corner shop and spend the day cooking the senior citizens of Cambridge Court Complex and others in the community of Ringsend. We learned how to cook Quiche Lorraine, Beef Stroganoff and all sorts of interesting and traditional dishes. The catering instructor was Fergal Corr- an excellent chef, who managed the place with great success for many years.

After that I got a job in Johnston Mooney and O’Brien’s, Ballsbridge slicing and wrapping bread. Unfortunately the bakery got into a bread war with Dunnes Stores and the highest paid bakery in Ireland was forced to take cuts causing the unions to take strike action. It was good at the time for me as we used to get a lot of double and treble time when we went back to work but eventually it caused the Ballsbridge Bakery to close and the building of the new Herbert Park Apartments went ahead moving Johnston Mooney’s business to Finglas with much less staff.

So I found myself back on the dole and back looking for work, and not wanting to return to catering due to the anti-social hours that were involved. I decided to go to the local stadiums in search of work and within a few weeks I got a start in the RDS as a general cleaner getting the stage and seating ready for shows. My first day on the job was “Simply the Best” as I got to meet Tina Turner who was performing that night.

On my 1 o’clock break we had a cup of tea together and she was the first African American woman I had ever met. I thought to myself ‘aren’t I lucky, my first time meeting an African American woman and she is the most famous and beautiful African American woman that there is’. She had a great aura, a sort of angelic glow from her and she was also at the peak of her career at the time. You could see she was as fit as a fiddle and strong as an ox from all the singing and dancing. She looked even more crazy with her spiked Thunderdome hair. It was a powerful experience. I asked her if she was looking forward to playing the gig that night. She said she was and thanked me for doing all the work setting up her show on my own -I had told her while we were making tea together that the two guys I was meant to be working with had called in sick that morning. One of the perks of that job was not only meeting lots of interesting people but also being able to stay back and see the live acts for free.

A year later I found myself working in Lansdowne Stadium now the Aviva, once again as a general cleaner but this time it was more sports orientated than music, although I got to meet the odd music star up there too. There was a lot of fun in Lansdowne and the ground staff where great craic to work with, we had a lot of fun preparing the stadium for big events. I got to see every international rugby match that was on that year and lots of international soccer friendlies but the most memorable of my time there was seeing the New Zealand All Blacks doing their Haka War Dance and directing it at me as I swept around the side of the pitch. I don’t scare easy but I was scared that day after being the object of their hate for their practice Hakas pre match. I decided after the second one to start sweeping around the back of the stadium instead of in their line of sight.

A week later I met Christy Moore who is a big rugby fan and could be found walking around the stadium on a lot of occasions. We talked for a while about music and he said, “he prefers nothing more than sitting around a warm fire at home playing a bit of music”.

Eventually Lansdowne Road closed for renovations and I ended up doing a trade as a coppersmith under a local Ringsend man called Paul Scott. Together we put the copper roof on Bray Bandstand and the six kiosks along Bray seafront.
After working as a roofer for a couple of years I decided to go back to college and become a Web Designer and Photographer. After obtaining several certificates I became a journalist with NewsFour and have been working here as a Journalist/Photographer ever since.

When I finish working with NewsFour next month I intend to return to photography and I will be hosting my second exhibition upstairs in the Art of Eating in Dun Laoghaire from 11th May to 19th May, 1pm to 6pm. It is a Maritime and Coastal Photography exhibition and is open to the public, all very welcome.

By Jason McDonnell