Where I live... Susan McKeown
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Where I live... Susan McKeown

Susan McKeown is a Grammy award-winning and BBC Award-nominated vocalist and songwriter originally from Dublin. She has performed with the likes of Pete Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Linda Thompson, Billy Bragg, Arlo Guthrie and The Klezmatics at Glastonbury, The Edinburgh Festival, Carnegie Hall and the Walt Disney Concert Hall to name but a few.

Where do you live?

Since moving home from Manhattan last year I have been living in my hometown of Dublin. Having spent half my life in each place, my answers are drawn from both sides of the Atlantic. I moved to Firhouse, Dublin last year for many reasons — my daughter was 10, so I wanted to live close to family and in an area with lots of children. Also, it’s an area with a rich history, lots of green spaces and a lovely walking trail by the Dodder River.

One of the best things about living there is…

The smell of burning turf and the sound of the birds singing, I didn’t come across much of that in the East Village. And it’s quiet but an easy trip into Dublin city.

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One restaurant I love is…

Le Marais off Times Square in Manhattan. It’s a kosher steak house with a bustling, lively atmosphere.

My local is…

Becoming The Queen of Tarts on Dame Street, Dublin. I love it because of its wonderful ambiance, delightful clattery china, pots of tea and Victorian sponge cake.

An insider tip on my area would be…

To take in some of the local secret historical places: Knocklyon Castle dates from the 16th century and is still inhabited — you can see the turret from the road outside. St. Colmcille’s Well near the Orlagh Retreat centre is a quiet place to escape to. Also, the weir on the Dodder, which dates from the 13th century.

On my downtime I love to go…

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Walking by the River Dodder with our dog, whose name is River.

Best place to go for a first date…

In Manhattan would be The Carousel at Bryant Park. On warm summer nights Edith Piaf’s voice wafts through the park; in winter there’s a pop-up skating rink alongside and hot chocolate to be had. And you’re always close to the New York Public Library.

One place not many people know about but I love is…

The Irish Hunger Memorial in Manhattan. It’s an Irish field constructed between the Hudson River and the World Trade Center site and steps from Poet’s House and Battery Park.

If you try one thing in Manhattan…

Try gelato from Eataly on Madison Square Park by the Flat Iron.

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The place that I love to bring visitors is…

The East River Ferry at sunset.

What do you collect?

I love to collect books and bags. I recently bought a pink leather laptop bag made in London by an Irish designer. I can’t help collecting tourist literature about things of cultural interest. I do it wherever I go but mostly about Irish places, events and crafts.

My favourite shops are…

Old shops, small shops, and shops that feature Irish craft and design like The Kilkenny Shop, The Pen Corner and the Irish Design Shop on Drury Street.

Biggest extravagance?

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A Jean Paul Gaultier dress I bought in Bloomingdale’s for a video with Declan O’Rourke for our duet On the Bridge to Williamsburg.

If there was a soundtrack to my area (Firhouse, Dublin) it would be something by…

Ensemble Ériu because while there are lots of new and interesting developments, traces of ancient lives run through this place.