Comedian and actor Ardal O'Hanlon casts his mind back to childhood summers spent on the Donegal coast and reveals how its beauty haunts him still. Interview: Alex Reece
My favourite part of the Irish coastline is northwest County Donegal, where I spent most of my childhood summers. It's a place that I have re-visited with my own kids and it's quite spectacular.
To appropriate a William Butler Yeats line, it has 'a terrible beauty' – it's really very bleak and very windswept. The colours are quite muted. There's no greenery there, so it's not what you'd associate with Ireland generally. It's very grey and brown, and purple and heathery.
What's really beautiful about this particular area is there's a little fishing village called Bunbeg, where we used to go every summer, and it's completely dominated by a very eerie mountain called Mount Errigal, which is creepy and perfectly conical. It's like the kind of mountain a child would draw, and you can see it for miles and miles and miles. It really dominates the boggy landscape.
The beach itself at Bunbeg is picture perfect in the sense that there's even a wreck of an old trawler on the shore. There are sand bars, there are islands stretching away out into the Atlantic. So, geographically, it's quite stunning. And it's not particularly spoiled by tourism, even though the scenery is very, very dramatic. It just left a huge impression on me as a kid. To this day I'm still kind of haunted by it.
When I'm in Donegal, I like to walk – gingerly – along the clifftops. I really love the sea and wherever I am, when I'm touring, I love a bracing walk by the sea before going on stage.
The coastline in Guadeloupe [where Death in Paradise is filmed] is quite different but dramatic in its own way. You've got the rainforest on the one side and the Caribbean on the other. There are some beautiful coastal walks there and, of course, you can swim with turtles as well, which is not to be sniffed at.
I suppose the title of my current tour, The Showing Off Must Go On, is about how stand-up is clearly showing off. I'm very conscious of that, but I love stand-up. I feel that I've an awful lot to say, and I feel people should listen to me – because I'm right about everything!
Ardal O’Hanlon is touring the UK and Ireland with his latest show, The Showing Off Must Go On – tickets from mickperrin.com/acts/ardal-ohanlon.