Denis O'Sullivan has had a life long interest in general Irish affairs, including language, place names, mythology and history. His interest in the Irish language was encouraged by his father and resulted in his spending many summer holidays from the late forties to the present day in Connemara, observing the progress from almost mediaeval social conditions to the dawn of the twenty first century. He became acquainted with Padraig and Jude O Fatherta of Cois Farraige and he and his wife Carmel were frequent visitors to their house in Teach Mor until Padraig died in 1974 and Jude some twenty years later. Tomas de Bhaldraithe, Micheal O Maoilean,and Micheal O Siadhail were among the many Irish scholars associated with the family. O'Sullivan sat for most of his secondary school exams in Irish (including mathematics) and has contributed to articles and broadcasts on astrophysics in Irish.
Jude always refused to believe that man landed on the moon. Below is a photograph, taken in the early forties, of Jude (right), gathering carrageen on the beach in Indreabhain.
Music has played a central role throughout life. Early exposure to the ecclesiastical music of Palestrina, Arcadelt, Victoria and others left a deep impression and led to interest in the Baroque composers and then to nineteenth and twentieth century works. When a few classical records were discovered at home ,at the of the age of 12-mainly Brahms, Dvorak and Offenbach as well as a selection of Victorian ballads sung by Peter Dawson, the Australian baritone, this limited repertoire was my view on the musical world for a few years, with the help of a wind up gramophone. My father had no interest in classical music so I always assumed they belonged to his first wife who had died twenty years earlier. During the floods in Dublin in 1953 a performance of the Messiah conducted by Sir John Barbirolli was held at the Theatre Royal in Dublin to raise funds and it was my first really exciting day at a major concert event. The first records I bought were Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto played by 'Solomon', a pianist popular in the early part of the twentieth century and John McCormack singing 'Il Mio Tesoro'. A second-hand Rachmaninov Symphony number 2 scratched its way into my life and remains one of my favourites still. With school friends, Fergie Gaines and Michael Hoey, I spent many happy hours at DGOS operas in the Gaeity Theatre in the late fifties, having first slipped away from school to queue for tickets in the 'gods'. I have been lucky enough to enjoy concert hall performances and operas abroad and at home and have been impressed by the level of performances at the NCH and Hugh Lane chamber series (the longest running ever) over the last three decades. The most important piece of furniture we possess is a radio tuned to BBC3 which remains on all day in a separate room which may be visited at anytime. If I were asked to name one twentieth century work that stands out for me it is Schoenberg's Verklaerte Nacht , but if I were drowning, Bach would do nicely.