The former Boyzone hitmaker shares his memories of Christmas in Ireland, his mum’s curry, and tells us what he will be doing for Christmas this year.
Ronan Keating, 40, was raised in Dublin, the youngest of five. In 1993, at the age of just 16, he joined Louis Walsh’s boyband, Boyzone. The band went on to sell over 25 million records worldwide and, as a solo artist, Keating has sold 20 million. He’s appeared as a judge on The X Factor and The Voice in Australia and starred in the wartime film, Another Mother’s Son, which was released earlier this year. He has three children, Jack, 18, Missy, 16 and Ali, 12, by his former wife. In 2015, he married Australian TV producer Storm Uechtritz. They live in Hertfordshire and have a baby son, Cooper, who was born in April.
Childhood Christmas memories
Growing up we always had big, crazy family Christmases...
But, after my brothers and sister had to emigrate for work – unemployment was at an all-time high in Ireland – it was just Mam, Dad and me. It was tough on Mam – one year, I remember her crying.
Christmas this year
This year, I’m hoping we have Christmas in our home in London.
We’ve been back to Ireland over the last few years. It’s all about the kids and having the family together. Storm loves to put on a big Christmas dinner. Like every other household, it’s wonderful to sit around for hours eating and drinking and then enjoying some TV with a very sore belly.
It’s our baby boy Cooper’s first Christmas, which is very exciting.
Santa Claus is gonna be coming. Storm has some wonderful Aussie traditions, she makes rum balls, a typically Australian dessert. They are covered in coconut and are just amazing. I eat far too many.
I start playing Christmas music in the house maybe a week before Christmas.
I love the classics, the Frank Sinatra stuff is always brilliant. I’m a bit of a sucker for Christmas – it's probably my favourite time of year. I love the festive spirit in London.
A Christmas walk will be lovely and it’ll be magical if it snows.
We have a wonderful wood near us and we go for walks regularly there. Storm doesn’t love the cold, she misses the hot weather in Australia. They tend to have turkeys on the beach there because it’s so hot, but she’s getting used to it here.
Childhood food memories
When I was growing up in Dublin...
Mam cooked gammon steak and chips, Irish stews and coddles. A coddle is sausage, bacon and potatoes boiled in hot water with some herbs. It’s pretty basic and very much a working-class family Irish stew. My dad was a salesman – he worked for a crisp company and for a soft drinks company and Mam was a stay-at-home mum. She was a hairdresser but gave that up to raise her five kids and went back to it after we grew up.
We didn’t have school dinners.
School was right around the corner and I used to go home for lunch – it would be pizza, sandwiches or burgers. We are Catholic and had fish every Friday – Mam was pretty strong about that.
Mam did a chicken curry that we’ve tried to replicate ever since she died but it’s been very diffcult.
It was my favourite dish and she knew that I loved it so, when I’d come home from being on the road, she’d make chicken curry and it was always amazing. She died from breast cancer in 1998, she was 51 and, nearly 20 years later, it’s still very hard. Our family run a charity, the Marie Keating Foundation, and we're constantly fundraising for Cancer Research and trying to create awareness worldwide.