What to try this weekend: Gluten-free vegan churros with a caramel dipping sauce
What to try this weekend: Gluten-free vegan churros with a caramel dipping sauce

Meg Walker

How to increase your confidence and why it’s crucial
How to increase your confidence and why it’s crucial

Niamh Ennis

The scariest thing about Halloween? Competitive parenting
The scariest thing about Halloween? Competitive parenting

Sophie White

Add some colour to your living room with these punchy cushion designs
Add some colour to your living room with these punchy cushion designs

Megan Burns

Five perfect matte lipsticks that your mask won’t budge
Five perfect matte lipsticks that your mask won’t budge

Holly O'Neill

Slightly Christmassy movies that are totally acceptable to watch before Halloween
Slightly Christmassy movies that are totally acceptable to watch before Halloween

Lauren Heskin

This Glenageary home with a charming double-height extension is on the market for €1.875 million
This Glenageary home with a charming double-height extension is on the market for €1.875 million

Megan Burns

Surrogacy: ‘As soon as I lay a foot on Irish soil I become a legal stranger to my son’
Surrogacy: ‘As soon as I lay a foot on Irish soil I become a legal...

Amanda Cassidy

Cuffing season is upon us and singletons need to know what to look out for
Cuffing season is upon us and singletons need to know what to look out for

Christina McLoughlin

Children are becoming less resilient and it is because of our parenting style
Children are becoming less resilient and it is because of our parenting style

Amanda Cassidy

Image / Agenda / Image Writes

Born to be mild: becoming Queen of the Night (In)


by IMAGE
20th Dec 2020
Born to be mild: becoming Queen of the Night (In)

Soft play is commonly associated with young children. However, it could be used to describe Esther O’Moore Donohoe’s fun threshold that, in recent times, has climaxed with the quiet mirth of neighbourhood WhatsApp groups and a good Sunday roast.


When it comes to partying, I party soft. I love my friends and family, but some of my favourite nights out are the ones that never happen. For I am Queen of Cosytown and happiest at home sans bra, dressed head to toe like a human Ugg boot. But this year has really tested my already very low excitement bar.

Initially, I did what everyone else was doing to get my kicks. I made bread and sowed seeds. I queued for the MüllerFruit Corners in the supermarket. By mid-June, I had completed most of the things on the “So You’re Experiencing a Once in Lifetime Pandemic” list. I knew then I had to improvise and go rogue in order to entertain myself.

After the first lockdown ended, I met a friend for lunch and we caught up on all our “news”. She regaled me with her stories of watching paint dry, and I told her about changing the PIN-code on my house alarm. We were two wild women, living out loud. She also shared a resource that had helped her during her toughest lockdown moments, namely her Residents Association WhatsApp group. I was intrigued. She scrolled through hundreds of incredible messages that ranged from warnings of foxes biting the heads off cats (“Tom. Warn Mags. That fox will kill the cat. URGENT”). To sightings of a “sinister” looking silver Nissan Micra (“Marion, that was me in the Nissan. I just wanted to know if you wanted a lift to the village”). It was better than anything on Netflix, and I wanted a piece of this very gentle action.

It didn’t take much Facebook sleuthing before I found the deets for my own neighbourhood RA. By the Six One news, I’d infiltrated the local RA WhatsApp group. I sat back and waited for the good times to roll, but by the time Eileen Dunne came on at nine, it was clear this was not the lol-ercoaster I wanted. There was zero domestic animal terror and no sharing of shifty-looking strangers loitering next to the Tesco Express. In a bid to get the party started, I asked if anyone knew where the huge pile of abandoned loaves outside the pub had come from. No one replied and two people immediately left the group. I tried not to take it personally, telling myself that they were probably just sick of any mention of bread. I can’t pretend I wasn’t disappointed, though. I thought I was going to be dipping my toe into a real-life episode of Father Ted, but the members proved to be more urbane than I had anticipated. But what did I expect? I live in Dublin 8, the birthplace of elaborate peanut butters. Down but not out, my mission for some semblance of excitement continued slowly, like an exhausted tortoise.

I next sought solace in my go-to safe space that is oven- based dinners. Attending the weekly roast in my mum’s was always worth the shower; concerned for her health and wellbeing, however, I ceased my weekly drop-ins. When I suggested she could just whizz down the road instead and drop a plate in, she became – I assume – too overwhelmed to respond (she misses me so much!). Her silence said it all.

You can’t keep a good roast potato down, though, so I took matters into my own hands. “Oh. Did you finally decide to act like a grown-up and throw a chicken into the oven yourself?” Of course I didn’t. I did what any adult woman who is me would do. I recruited a fellow spud-loving friend and we created a Sunday Roast Club. It’s like The Lord of the Rings fellowship, but starch-based.

Our “mission” was to source the finest Sunday dinners within walking distance of our homes. We even made scorecards. Hello organised fun! Categories include “Potatoes”, “General Ambience” and “Eavesdropping”. It wasn’t going to get us on to Liveline for debauched hedonism, but it put a smile on our dials and comforting carvery in our bellies.

You’re probably thinking, “Whoa! Slow down Ozzy Osbourne!” But don’t you worry about me. I know the roast potato that’s one too many (it’s five).

When my mum started talking to me again in late August, we decided to plan a couple of days away. We were sure that things would be more or less back to normal-ish by October, which was ages away. We were living for our dream of heavily cling-filmed breakfast buffets and UHT milk. Sadly, our dreams were dashed, so we did the next best thing. We took a day-trip to IKEA, aka Funderland for grown-ups. And, as a treat, I decided to wear a disposable face mask to save myself the washing. What was happening to me?

I’ll admit that after our day out, I became concerned I’d fallen too deep into Cosytown. I knew things had to change when a friend called over for coffee later that week. As she was leaving, she asked if I was doing anything exciting for the evening. When we stopped laughing 17 minutes later, I said, “Of course not!” But then I looked at my kitchen table. I had a bag full of old cables and batteries that I planned to bring to a local electrical shop for recycling. “Actually…” I stopped and gasped. This was no life. Recycling cables does not a day out make. I had crossed a very beige and mundane line. As I waved her goodbye, I whispered to myself, “This far and no further, Esther. You’re simply getting too boring, even for you.”

I know I’ll never queue outside Berghain dressed in a rubber bikini or trend on Twitter for throwing a party. I can live with that. What counts as fun depends on who you talk to. We all have to find excitement and connections in ways we’d never even considered back in January. I have found solace in gravy and marrowfat peas. Perhaps, alphabetising your spices is how you get your thrills? But look, I can’t hang around here all day. A CSO Household Finance and Consumption Survey has just arrived through the front door, and I want to get it done ASAP. Yet another wild evening for me, Queen of the Night (In).

Illustration by Hannah Monaghan.

This article originally appeared in the IMAGE 2020/2021 Annual issue, on shelves now.

Read more: Editor’s welcome to the IMAGE Annual, on shelves now

Read more: Three exquisite Irish cashmere brands to lounge in

Read more: Doireann Ní Ghríofa: “Lockdown has been a good reminder of how important the arts are”

Also Read

Born to be mild: becoming Queen of the Night (In)
BUSINESS, EVENTS
Expert panels, innovative masterclasses and a keynote speech from Anya Hindmarch: Here’s why you need to join the IMAGE Business Summit

Back by popular demand, the virtual IMAGE Business Summit is returning this October with an expert line-up of industry leaders...

By Shayna Sappington

Born to be mild: becoming Queen of the Night (In)
BUSINESS
PODCAST: Melanie Morris & Lolly Strahan: Episode 2

By Shayna Sappington

Born to be mild: becoming Queen of the Night (In)
BREAKING STORIES
Charities working to support women and children amid the ongoing turmoil in Afghanistan

As the situation continues to worsen over in Afghanistan, here is a list of organisations you can donate to and...

By Sarah Finnan

Born to be mild: becoming Queen of the Night (In)
HEALTH & WELLNESS
‘That was the thing; she hid it’: Caroline Flack hid Bipolar diagnosis

Caroline Flack was told she may be bipolar in the weeks before her death, her mother has said.Caroline Flack was diagnosed...

By Jennifer McShane

Born to be mild: becoming Queen of the Night (In)
BUSINESS, EVENTS
Introducing The IMAGE Business Summit 2021, with keynote speakers, panel discussions, masterclasses and more

Don’t miss this year’s IMAGE Business Summit, with an expert line-up, skills masterclasses, keynote addresses and more.Back by popular demand,...

By IMAGE

Born to be mild: becoming Queen of the Night (In)
BUSINESS, EVENTS
How To: Master the Art of Negotiation – An event with Negotiation Strategist Natalie Reynolds

We sit down with Negotiation Strategist Natalie Reynolds, discussing key tactics and strategies used to master the art of negotiation...

By Shayna Sappington

Born to be mild: becoming Queen of the Night (In)
BREAKING STORIES
With a two-hour Oprah special, Adele is truly giving the people what they want

We might have to wait until November 19 to hear the rest of the album, but here’s everything we know about what to expect.

By Megan Burns