Episode 4 Sean Hillen on Art, Censorship, and UFOs


“I feel very lucky that I have a life that allows me to do these things” – Sean Hillen

Born in 1961 in Newry, Northern Ireland, Sean Hillen is an artist and a fascinating character. In this wide-renting conversation, we cover his early life in Northern Ireland, literary influences, censorship, UFOs and his recent diagnosis with Aspergers.

As you will hear, Sean is heavily influenced by Ireland’s literary greats such as Joyce, Beckett, Kavanagh. After the interview, I text him to ask where is a good place for someone to start with these writers. Not only was it a great answer to the question but the short text really captures Sean’s personality:


Hi Sean. I’ll be releasing the podcast on Monday. In your opinion, who’s the most accessible of the “crazy bastard writers”? Where’s a good place for people to start?


Hi Conor. I suppose you mean my ‘dead boyfriends’, the Asperger genii..?? Well, they’re all different kettles of fish: Joyce, Yeats and Beckett the more highbrow (?) and Brendan Behan and Myles na gCopaleen more the comedians – with Paddy Kavanagh plowing his own furrow as always. Myles being ‘the funniest writer in the English language’ (according to Graham Greene, and I agree) maybe is the one but… not everyone will agree. I think his masterpiece is The Third Policeman and that’s what I recommend.

From the 1990’s Sean’s series ‘IRELANTIS’ has come to be described as “the most vivid and emblematic expression of the dreams and anxieties of ‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland”– and have themselves become part of the cultural landscape, featuring on over 30 book covers and the subject of academic studies.

He co-designed, with landscape architect Desmond Fitzgerald, the Omagh Bomb Memorial.

His work can be seen at seanhillen.com

If you like the podcast, please write a review on iTunes. I will read every review and I really appreciate the feedback.

Question of the day: what advice would you give your 20-year-old self? Let me know in the comments below.

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