Pink Heart Columnist Kate Walker celebrates not one but a whole selection of Males on Monday - all of whom represent the very best of a type of man who constantly inspire and intrigue her. They may have appeared in her books as Sicilians, Spaniards, and even Greeks, but they are all originally from the country where Kate's family's roots are very firmly planted - the Emerald Isle.
When I was growing up, I was imprinted on a tall, dark handsome - oh, so handsome Irishman. I adored him, thought he was total perfection. The problem was that he was my uncle. My mother's brother was a dead ringer for the young James Mason. Actually if I’d known it, the young James Mason had grown up just a few miles down the road from the West Yorkshire town where I lived then. And where my uncle was working as a GP alongside my father. But I suspect that even if I’d met up with JM himself, I’d have found him slightly wanting in the personal hero stakes, because he lacked one thing that my uncle had quite naturally, something that made him a sure-fire hit that for me shot his hero-rating up high. And that was that he (Uncle John) had a gorgeous soft Irish accent.
Psychologists claim that our image of the type of man we find attractive is laid down the age of five, so my adoration of my uncle would fit with that. I’m sure he was responsible for the creation of my personal template of the perfect hero – tall (well, taller than me – it was a lot easier to be taller than a hero-worshipping five year old!) Dark haired, blue-eyed. And that accent. I’ve been a sucker for an Irishman ever since.
So when I was thinking about who to choose for my Male on Monday today, I was thinking about several possibilities and unable to make up my mind. I also went back over the list of the men I’d already chosen for this special accolade and that was when I realised that so many of these guys all shared one vital attribute – they were carved from same block as my Uncle John – they were all Irish.
So instead of just celebrating one man today, I’m celebrating a type – a nationality. I’m celebrating the Irishman. And if that means I get to go back over the guys I’ve chosen in the past – and other PHS posters have done too – well, it’s my male on Monday and as I’m celebrating my birthday this week, this is my birthday present to myself.
So here’s a selection of some of those Irish heroes who inspire with their looks, charm, acting ability and – oh yes, that accent.
Pierce Brosnan was born in County Meath, Ireland, but moved to London at age 11. Brosnan's tackled films of all genres (and he even has his own production company), yet he'll always be associated with one role above all others, that of the suave super-spy Bond.
Liam Neeson's from Northern Ireland and has been acting in films since the late '70s. Nominated for an Oscar for his starring role in Steven Spielberg's critically acclaimed film Schindler's List, Neeson's filmography is not only impressive but also eclectic. He's done comedy (Love Actually), a comic book film (Batman Begins), historical epics (Kingdom of Heaven, Rob Roy) and even tackled the role of a Jedi Knight in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Sam Neill – you think he’s Australian? No, he was born in Omagh County Tyrone N Ireland. He doesn’t have the Irish accent now but I’ll forgive him .. .
Born in Dublin, Ireland, hot-blooded reformed bad boy Colin Farrell first received attention after starring in Tigerland for director Joel Schumacher. Other high profile films include: Minority Report, Phone Booth, S.W.A.T., Alexander, Miami Vice, New World, and In Bruges.
Another product of Dublin (there must be something in the water), Gabriel Byrne is well-respected and undeniably talented, yet he's never really achieved that A-list status he so justly deserves. Byrne's filmography includes starring roles in Excalibur, The Usual Suspects, End of Days, and Vanity Fair
Multi-talented Kenneth Branagh not only stays busy in front of the camera, but also writes, directs and produces feature films. A fan of Shakespeare's work, Branagh has brought Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, and Love's Labour's Lost to moviegoers worldwide. I’ve been lucky enough to see him on stage in Richard III and when we met and chatted to him afterwards, he was charm itself – charming enough to make me forget about the ‘tall , dark, blue-eyed’ part of the Irishman’s appeal.
Another actor whose charm makes you totally forget that he is in fact not classically handsome is James Nesbitt. Another personal experience - I had had dinner with Mr Nesbitt and experienced that charm firsthand. OK, I had to share it with Anne McAllister, Abby Green - and my husband - but as research goes . . it's a hard job but someone has to do it.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is another actor born in Dublin and emerged as someone to keep an eye on when he took on the role of glam rocker Brian Slade in the indie film, Velvet Goldmine. Meyers sang his way through that Todd Haynes film and then later went on to play rock and roll icon Elvis Presley in a made-for-TV movie about the famous musician's life, which earned him an Emmy nomination. And of course there’s The Tudors . . .
Ciaran Hinds was born and raised in Northern Ireland and inherited his drive to act from his mother, who was an amateur actress. The 1981 John Boorman movie Excalibur was Hinds' first major film. Other big movies include Mary Reilly, Oscar and Lucinda, Road to Perdition, The Phantom of the Opera, and Veronica Guerin. He is also a close friend of Liam Neeson . . . Oh dear, the thought of those two out together . . Hinds also played a great Mr Rochester in 1997.
Cillian Murphy Born in Douglas, Cork, Ireland, his starring role in Danny Boyle's thriller 28 Days Later jettisoned him into the public eye. Other major films include: Intermission, Breakfast on Pluto, Red Eye, and playing Scarecrow in Batman Begins. Cillian Murphy has the most beautiful eyes .
And finally there’s my latest discovery Aidan Turner. The star of Desperate Romantics and Being Human was the subject of my last Male on Monday, so if you want to read more about him, you’ll find that post here.
I could also include Stephen Rea (for acting ability if not the looks) Stuart Townsend, Daniel Day-Lewis who has sort of become Irish, Aiden Gillen, Peter O’Toole (wrong colouring . . .but the eyes .. .) . But I think I’ve proved my point. I shall now have to go and lie down in a darkened room to recover.
What about you? Does an Irishman do it for you? Or is there another nationality, another accent, that fits perfectly into your ‘love map’? As it’s my birthday coming up and I like to share the celebrations, I have a copy of your choice of my backlist books to give away to one commentator when I can get the other big, dark male in my life (ie Sid the Cat) to pick a winner.
Kate's latest USA title is The Konstantos Marriage Demand, still available in Presents Extra. In the UK, her By Request three in one Claimed by the Sicilian has reprints of her best-selling Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Wife, The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge and The Sicilian's Wife is in the bookshops right now.
Coming in July is A Good Greek Wife?
part of a special mini series based on updating the Greek Myths. Kate is currently working on another 'special project' - more details when she can reveal them.