Miriam Meets... Kevin McAleer and Valerie Whitworth
This week, Miriam O'Callaghan interviews writer and comedian Kevin McAleer and his wife Valerie Whitworth.
They recall their meeting in London in the 1980s and how, after the births of their three children, they decided to get married. They are married sixteen years this weekend.
When their children were young, Kevin and Valerie took the decision to move back to Kevin's homeplace of Drumnakilly, near Omagh in County Tyrone. This was a change from living in a flat in London and is a move that they have never regretted, even in the aftermath of the 1998 Omagh bombing. Kevin doesn't have many happy memories of his own childhood there, a very sheltered life, rural and quiet. His life took off when he left there for college in Dublin. Valerie has settled there too and many of her artistic dreams have come true through her involvement in community arts, including the Together One Voice choir in Omagh.
Valerie became involved in choirs when her children were small. This was a difficult time of her life. They describe how their relationship has been sustained through these difficult times. Valerie says that Kevin has the ability to change while Kevin says that he managed to change a pattern of behaving where he was very grumpy into a more positive mind frame.
Kevin got involved in comedy in Dublin after seeing alternative comedy in San Francisco in the early 1980s. He still gets nervous but the sheer terror of the early years has passed. He explains how he talked about the Troubles in the 1990s in his comedy routines but many audiences weren't interested in the North.
They discussed the issues of identity - that their children consider themselves Irish, that Valerie has to maintain her English roots and how Kevin is exploring the identity of his Ulster Scots neighbours in his current TV show. This has prompted him to re examine his own connection to Irish and he is currently trying to learn the language again.
They chose The Staples Singers I'll Take You There; Thomas Tallis Spem In Alium; Van Morrison Someone Like You and Grainne Duffy Rather Go Blind