Neilí Conroy has been a fixture on our screens for over two decades now, in a variety of iconic TV series and movies, from Family and The Van and Paths To Freedom to The Clinic, Love/Hate and more recently Fair City.

Se's also a formidable theatre presence, and this month returns to the stage in the title role of Philo, a new play from writer/director Peter Sheridan for this year's Five Lamps Arts Festival. Its the moving (and occasionally hilarious) tale of the lives of two women from different backgrounds who find refuge in a convent day-care centre.

We asked Neili for her choice cultural picks...

FILM

I was so happy when the cinemas reopened, even though I don't get to go enough. Myself and my mam went to see After Love directed by Aleem Khan and starring the brilliant Joanna Scanlon, in the IFI on a Monday afternoon and it was bliss. Recently I have seen The Green Knight which is a stunning watch and filmed in Ireland, based on the Arthurian legend and starring Dev Patel. I’ve also seen Deadly Cuts directed by Rachel Carey and set in a Dublin hairdressers. It’s an absolute scream, all the performances are wonderful and you just have a great time watching it. Michael McCormack’s documentary Breaking Out about Fergus O'Farrell from the band Interference is so uplifting, full of spirit and humour. Ross Killeen’s documentary Love Yourself Today (released on November 5th) is a must see too, gives a glimpse into Damien Dempsey’s live shows and the communal love and healing that is felt by everyone that attends.

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MUSIC

Sometimes with music, especially if I’m rehearsing, I can end up listening to the same songs over and over, it’s like a little playlist, so on that at the moment is Wild One by Thin Lizzy - I just love it - plus Sault, Sharon Van Etten, Bob Marley, John Prine and many more.

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BOOK

The last books I’ve read which I highly recommend were Unsettled by Rosaleen McDonagh, a collection of essays about her life and experiences. I was lucky to be in her play Mainstream which was a joy to be part of. The other great book is one that was first published in 1968 called The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah, set in post colonial Ghana. I recommend both these books.

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THEATRE

I got to see Rearing is Sparing by TKB, who I just think is a sensational writer.

TELEVISION

I Love Dick starring Kevin Bacon and Katherine Hahn on Amazon Prime is brilliant. Also: Help with Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham (they are some actors) is a tough but brilliant watch, it almost feels like you can’t breath watching it.

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GIG

The last gig I went to pre-Covid was Sturgill Simpson in Vicar Street. The next gig will be Mick Flannery and Susan O’Neill in Whelan's.

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ART

I went to the Mary Swanzy exhibition in IMMA a few years ago which was stunning. She is a very important Irish painter that we all should know about. I was in Palestine in 2017 and got to go to the Banksy Hotel in Bethlehem. I love Banksy, he makes us all think. The hotel has a great exhibition with bitesize pieces of information which tells the history of the Palestinian people and the occupation of their land.

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RADIO/PODCAST

I do listen to radio a lot, and if I’m at home I’ll just have it on all the time. I like the current affairs programmes and Arena on RTÉ Radio 1. I felt terribly low a few years ago and I listened to Oprah Winfrey's podcast Super Soul Sunday and I have to say it really helped me, it's so positive. During the lockdown, I enjoyed Louis Theroux’s Grounded ,he’s a great interviewer.

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THE NEXT BIG THING...

We’ve been rehearsing Philo in East Wall and before the lockdown we rehearsed in the convent in Sheriff St where the play is set. There is an abundance of talented artists here who are upcoming and successful in their chosen professions: artist Tara Kearns, singer Gemma Dunleavy, Thomas Kane Byrne the playwright, the actor Scott Graham, singers Zestra... and that’s all I can think of off the top of my head.

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Philo

Philo is at the Sean O'Casey Theatre, Dublin, from October 21st - 30th 2021 - find out more here.