Sunday, May 29, 2011

Viking Splash Tours

I went on the Viking Splash Tour yesterday for the first time yesterday.  It was so cool!  I really enjoyed it.  It involved shouting at celts outside the bus/boat.  We had a particularly good tour guide: entertaining and easy on the eye!  The tours start at St. Stephen's Green (Shelbourne side) and take just over an hour.  There's Viking helmets for you all to wear on the journey.  I do have photos but to protect the anonimity of my party, I shall not show them*. They also include a turn around Grand Canal dock since the vehicle is amphibious.

The theatre looks even more impressive from the water. I still think the red poles are silly though.  Tickets can be booked online.  €20 for adults, €18 for students and €10 for kids.  That Dublin passport thing I was talking about gives a 25% discount if you mention it when you book.  Really good fun, althought a little nippy, so remember a jumper!

*We may look a bit ridiculous.

Passport to Dublin

So yesterday I did a couple of touristy things in town: there'll be further posts.  However, on one of them, they gave out something called the Passport to Dublin, which was just launched this week and features discounts to various attractions in Dublin.  It includes the Glasnevin Museum, the Wax Museum, Viking Splash, Dublinia and the National Leprechaun Museum (which I am dying to do!) amongst others.  The discounts are modest but if you're doing a bunch of things in Dublin, it'd certainly be worth having.  The "passports" seem to be available on any of the participating tours.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pivoting towards World Design Capital 2014

Amidst all our current economic woes, there is still optimism afoot. Our fair city is bidding to be the World Design Capital 2014, following in the footsteps of such design heavyweights as Turin (2008), Seoul (2010) and Helsinki (2012). 55 cities in total are contesting the title.

A swanky website for Dublin's effort has been put up. The project envisions the city as a pivot point in the world, a place where global forces of change come to meet and reflect. This change is embraced as inspiration and as a creative strength. The themes proposed by the project are: Connecting Cities, Making Cities Lighter, Making Cities Flow and Making Cities Smile.

Here's to all the best success. Such a nomination could be very beneficial to our city.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shakespeare in June

As Nina mentioned recently, the Dublin Shakespeare Festival 2011 runs from 1st to 11th June. There'll also be a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in Project Arts Centre, opening on 2nd June and running until 18th June.

As if that isn't enough Shakespeare for you, new theatre company Whiskey Tango Foxtrot will be performing Measure for Measure from 13th to 18th June in The Back Loft, St Augustine Street.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

IMMA is 20 years old

IMMA is 20 years old this Friday.  Does this mean it should now be called The Irish Museum of old Modern Art?

Anyway, they are having a whole slew of related events to celebrate and they're free. The highlight is Twenty Perspectives, a ninety minute presentation from different contributing artists in the Twenty exhibition on IMMA and its role as a modern art museum.  It's on Friday afternoon, free too but booking is essential.  There are celebrations afterwards involving food and drinks with musical performances from Congalese musician Niwel Tsumbu, Jerry Fish & the Mudbug Club and DJ Poppy Lloyd.

Booking for the various events is from the website.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Taste of Dublin

The Taste of Dublin is back in its usual home of the Iveagh Gardens from 9th - 12th June.
I go most years and it's always a fun day of gluttony.  I see Chapter One will be at it this year - don't remember seeing them before.  A full list of restaurants is here, many are staples of the event.  Rachel Allen, amongst many other Irish and international chefs will be doing cooking demonstrations. New features this year include a search for a best amateur chef and a barbeque family event on the Sunday.

Tickets available from their website or at the door on the day start at €15 and go up to €42, purchasing "florins" is parity with the Euro and come in books of 20.  Past experience suggests you'll need at least 2 lots of 20 to try everything you fancy.  There are plenty of free nibbles to be had from the many many food producers so you could try buying none, but I suspect your tummy will change your mind.  If you can go on the Thursday or Friday in the daytime, it'll be far less busy and even more pleasant.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Some events for lovers of food and the arts

Among all the things I enjoy, there are two of which I'm particularly fond: art and food. Lately there seems to be something of a trend of bringing the two together, which gets a huge thumbs up from this writer.

As part of Dublin Writers Festival, an event titled Artists in the World: Hisham Matar, Fadia Faqir, Fiach Mac Conghail, Rita Duffy, is being held on Sunday 29 May at 1.00 pm at Fallon & Byrne, one of my favourite places in the city. The speakers, variously representing the literary world and that of visual arts, will be examining the issues to do with art and its interaction with social and political change. Tickets are 10 euro.

A couple of Dublin restaurants are marking Bloomsday on 16 June. According to the Food&Wine magazine, Aqua in Howth will be holding a special brunch at 11 am, to include readings from the Ulysses and prizes for the best dressed. Caviston's in Glastule will be serving a Bloomsday breakfast from 7.30 am.

'Blood Knot' in Project Arts Centre

The latest performance project on is Blood Knot. Blood Knot tells the story of two half-brothers living in South Africa during the apartheid era; one brother is clearly dark-skinned while the other has much lighter skin and can pass as white. The play was written decades ago but the theatre company, Shiva Productions, is new.

An unusual feature of the funding of this project is that unlike most Fundit projects this one is definitely going ahead - the play runs from 1st to 11th June 2011. The rewards are tickets for the show, so effectively they're offering a discount for buying ahead. In one sense this is the most fundamental reward any theatre can offer, but it seems somewhat different to the idea of funding a project in advance. Perhaps this is why the project hasn't received much funding yet: it doesn't really need it to proceed.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Donegal Live

There's an event on today in Iveagh Gardens to promote tourism in Donegal. Donegal Live runs from 12:00 to 18:00 today and features a range of live music acts such as the High Kings, Kintra, and Moya Brennan.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Red Bull Flugtag in Dun Laoghaire

You've probably heard of Red Bull Flugtag before now - it's that mildly silly-looking event where teams launch home-made flying machines off a platform, inevitably plunging quickly into the sea below. If watching people fall into the water sounds like fun (and I suppose it might be) then head on over to Dun Laoghaire Harbour on Sunday. The site opens at 12:00 and the show is expected to run from 13:00 to 16:30. Admission is free.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: Ecstasy by No Drama Theatre

The latest production from No Drama Theatre, Ecstasy, started yesterday and runs until 21st May in the Teachers Club on Parnell Square. The play is based on Irvine Welsh's novel of the same name. The novel actually consists of three separate novellas, and the No Drama play is an adaptation of the third of these, The Undefeated.

Set in Scotland in the 1990s, Ecstasy tells the story of 30-something-year-old clubber Lloyd who lives only for his drug and dance filled weekends. As you'd expect from Welsh, the story mixes grimness with humour, with a nice dollop of Scottishness thrown in.

This is a well-written play and I'm pleased that No Drama stuck with the original setting. As a result they've had to use their finest Scottish accents, with varying results. The lead actor, Patrick O'Callaghan, doesn't quite get it right - at times it's good, at other times it reminded me of Sean Connery as a Russian submarine commander in The Hunt for Red October. Most of the rest of the cast do a pretty good job of it, especially female lead Tracey Diamond (playing Heather).

Although No Drama is an amateur theatre group the standard of acting is good and overall this is a very impressive and enjoyable play. The pace is also good: there are no lulls and the momentum builds as the play progresses. The second act is particularly entertaining. Well worth seeing.

Doors open at 7:30 on each evening and the play starts at 8:00 pm, running for about two hours (not including the interval). Tickets cost €15 plus a booking fee. This play uses strobe lighting.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

'The Beauty Queen of Leenane' in the Gaiety Theatre

The Beauty Queen of Leenane was first staged in 1996. It was playwright Martin McDonagh's first play and proved hugely successful, being staged not only in Ireland but also in London and New York. The play won numerous awards and received critical acclaim. Perhaps unsurprisingly there have been many productions of the play since that time.

The play is a dark comedy, telling the story of Maureen, a 40-year-old woman who has remained at home to care for her mother while her sisters have left and married. Maureen is resentful and lonely; her mother Mag is domineering and selfish. When Maureen sees a last chance for romance and escape, Mag fears she will be abandoned and left alone.

Rosaleen Linehan as Mag Folan

This staging of the play in the Gaiety is a quality production. The set has an exceptional level of detail and physicality. The acting is generally good - Rosaleen Linehan's comic timing as Mag is perfect.

McDonagh's script is undeniably a success, but I did find the pace of the play a little uneven, while the use of foreshadowing makes the play somewhat predictable. It should also be said that the dialogue felt slightly stylised and at times even a bit stage-Oirish. None of this is a criticism of the Gaiety's production; the play is what it is, and overall I can see why they'd want to show it - this is a very funny play and the audience clearly loved it.

One criticism I have to make of this production is that although it achieves a great deal of comedy, this comes at the expense of the darker side of the play. There are moments when the play almost strays into pantomime, undermining the credibility of the tough, dramatic conflict of wills between Maureen and her mother.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane perhaps does not quite live up to its reputation, but it is entertaining. Not a must-see, but enjoyable and funny.

The play runs until Saturday 4th June 2011.

Also on: Pygmalion in the Abbey Theatre. Running until 11th June.

The Arts and the Recession

Your Dublin artworld gossip is provided by Dublin Culture.

The end of the week saw a couple of interesting pieces of news in the Irish Times. The sorry state of our banks and financial world in general requires no further commenting, but it seems that the artworld may potentially end up at least somewhat benefiting from the whole mess.

NAMA is going to donate to the National Gallery a painting by John Lavery entitled The Return from Market, in return for the storage in the gallery of the art collection of Derek Quinlan, seized in the process of being sold by the Agency. Apparently NAMA is going to offer the collection for sale to the National Gallery, the Office of Public Works and IMMA, before they go on the open market. Obviously I would have liked to see more paintings being donated to the various art institutions, but who knows what is yet going to happen.

Speaking of future unknowns, the other very interesting item I picked up was the reported desire of the Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan to convert the Bank of Ireland branch on College Green into a world literature centre celebrating the city's literary heritage. The bank, naturally, resists any handing over of the building or its use as anything else as a (struggling) financial institution. I love the idea of such a historically significant building, in such a central location, being used as an arts centre. They have already had arts events in the past, so in a way, there is almost something of a precedent. I remember fondly a Christmas market held in the colonnade, two years ago. The setting gave the event a lovely pseudo-Victorian feel. I think that the Minister's plans have huge potential and I hope they will come to fruition. Goodness knows that right around now it looks like that the Arts may well end up being more beneficial to the state than the various financial institutions.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dublin City Soul Festival

This year's Dublin City Soul Festival is on from May 26th to 29th. Their website describes the festival as:
Ireland’s feel-good festival, a unique annual celebration built by a dedicated group of people living and working in Dublin. [...] the Soul Festival is a shining example of what can be achieved when passionate, like-minded individuals come together united under a common bond to create a vibrant, multi-cultural and positive festival celebrating what’s best about Ireland and the Irish People.

More to the point, it's primarily a music festival - but with a range of art, cinema and food-related events as well. I quite like the look of the Gospel Brunch, a combination of gospel music and brunch.

Catch Up on Culture Week

Catch Up On Culture Week starts next week and will run from 18th to 29th May. It's organised by the Irish Museums Association and most of the events are free.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Zebbie Awards

I was at the Zebbie Awards last night in The Sugar Club.
The Zebbie's are the annual awards of the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild.
They award 5 prizes for the best writing across the different disciplines.

This year's awards were presented by Senator David Norris, who needs no introduction, and Gary Cooke, who is one third of the Apres Match team.  The Senator read the nominations in his own inimitable style and spoke in between before presenting each prize.  Gary Cooke's involvement was a little odd - he just said funny things in various different voices (Eamon Dunphy, Liam Brady, Joe Duffy, etc).  The funniest thing he said was a joke about sending a team of actual seals to hunt down Sean Fitzpatrick. 

I do wonder where all the women are in Irish writing - out of all the nominees, there were only 4 ladies.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Best script for a short film
The Crush by Michael Creagh, which was also nominated for an Oscar this year.

Best feature film script
100 mornings by Conor Horgan - post apocalyptic Ireland

Best TV script
Love/Hate by Stuart Carolan, who sported a lovely anorak.

Best radio script
A whistle in the dark by Tom Murphy *apparently written 50 years ago*

Best theatre script
Freefall by Michael West

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

No Drama Theatre - 'Ecstasy'

The latest production from No Drama Theatre, Ecstasy, will run from 17th to 21st May in the Teachers Club on Parnell Square. The play is based on Irvine Welsh's novel of the same name. The novel actually consists of three separate novellas, and the No Drama play is an adaptation of the third of these, The Undefeated.

I enjoyed No Drama's Wyrd Sisters last year. Ecstasy will be a much greater challenge: let's hope it's as good.

Tickets cost €15 plus a booking fee.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dublin Writers Festival 2011 - Volunteers wanted

The Dublin Writers Festival is looking for volunteers:
Dublin Writer’s Festival is 13 years old and since the very start of the festival we have had a lively and enthusiastic volunteer community who return to the festival again and again. The volunteers at each of the events are a vital part of the festival.

The duties which the volunteers undertake vary from front of house (collecting tickets in venues and dealing with customers), audience research, brochure distribution and other areas. As a volunteer you will also have the opportunity to witness inspiring sessions and to meet other great volunteers!

The festival provides fantastic experience for anyone interested in writing, publishing, theatre or event management, marketing or anyone who just likes books and reading. This year as the festival has grown, with more events then ever before and we are looking for some new members to join our volunteer crew. The festival runs for seven days between 23 and 29 May, throughout the evening and at weekends.

For further details on becoming a volunteer please contact Lisa Marie Griffith at or click or see here:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Big Smoke Writing Factory - Literary Cafe

On Saturday Big Smoke Writing Factory ran another of their Literary Cafe events in the Ormond Wine Bar on Ormond Quay. It's a nice bar and a good choice of venue, with wine from just €4 a glass.

The speakers read from their own works, a mix of fiction and poetry. The pieces were high quality and enjoyably varied - I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of the excerpts being read on the day lead to publications.

My personal favourites were Orla Martin's poem Europa and Brian Ward's fiction. Europa reminded me of the songs of a wonderful band called They Might Be Giants.
Orla Martin reads Europa

Brian Ward

The first musical interlude was provided by Brendan Carvill, with the second performance being given by Ciara Sidine (who by the way is about to launch her new album in the Sugar Club on Friday 13th).
Brendan Carvill

Ciara Sidine (right) preparing to perform

For a free event, the Literary Cafe was very good. The next one is expected to be in Autumn.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

First Thursday: A Short Gallery Crawl

While my colleagues were off at the Abbey getting blown away by Pygmalion, I decided to take the opportunity to investigate this month's First Thursday, as mentioned by Dave earlier on in the week. (One of the perks of writing for this blog is that you get to hear about all the cool stuff in the city that you wouldn't otherwise hear about.) In the early evening, I ventured into Temple Bar, which is already beginning to swell with this season's tourists. Consequently I was rather glad to escape the masses to the three outposts of art I visited.

My first destination was Offline exhibition at Temple Bar Gallery & Studios right on Temple Bar Square. The information on the website about the exhibition's themes concerning documentation and experience of reality via online platforms had made me very interested. Unfortunately I came out feeling somewhat unsatisfied. The exhibition certainly wanted to make a point about the ubiquitousness of the internet and about its role in the consumeristic society, but I felt that there was a danger of the installations themselves veering towards the same superficiality that they perhaps desired to highlight. The constraints of the layout and space also meant that two installations, one by Eilis McDonald and the other by her and Parker Ito, in my opinion were too close to each other to the point where it was difficult to appreciate them individually. Of course, also on the internet, memes and trends flow from one forum or webpage to another so that it can be difficult to see where one begins and another one begins. Having said all that, I was quite impressed by Alexandra Domanovic's sculptural work made of printed paper to mark the recent abolition of the .yu domain.

The Gallery of Photography on Meeting House Square was my second port of call. Their current exhibition is called Prime Years and it's presented as part of the annual Bealtaine festival, which celebrates creativity in older age. I find that as I myself get older, I am becoming much more interested in the portrayal and experiences of older people. In my early twenties, you probably couldn't have dragged me to see 'pictures of old people' by force. This exhibition touched and delighted me in equal measure. My favourites were selections from Mark Story's series 'Living in Three Centuries: The Face of Age 1987-2005' and ones from Edmund Clarke's series 'The Centenarians 2005'. The first example presented stunning portraits of people over 110 years of age, known as 'supercentenarians'. The marks of incredible age in the faces of these people made me think of ancient trees. Next to them, Clarke's portraits of 'ordinary' centenarians were those of youngsters! In these, I got impressions of a great deal of amusement and wisdom that comes from age, and from observing the unnecessary worries of those who are much younger.

Finally, I visited this blog's old favourite, Project Arts Centre, which has plenty of going on at the moment, including International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival and a showcase of Europe's New Jazz. However, the purpose of my visit was the opening of Sarah Browne's new film installation Second Burial at Le Blanc. The film, which depicts a funeral procession pass from the new part of the French town of Le Blanc to the older part, bearing, instead of a coffin, a 'ticker-tape countdown clock', provides commentary to the current economic situation in Europe. Le Blanc has continued to accept francs and will do until February 2012. The short film (10 minutes) is accompanied by free copies of a contextualising visual essay in form of a newspaper, also put together by Browne, and called On Hoarding, Accumulating and Gifting. The ticker-tape countdown clock featured in the film is present in the exhibition space. It counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the last francs to be exchanged, while receiving live currency feed via wireless internet and displaying the Euro/franc exchange rate alongside its countdown. I found the exhibition very thought-provoking and clever in its combination of old and new technology. It forces the viewer to consider the repercussions of transitional periods both in terms of time and in economic respects - something that is a very present issue in today's Ireland.

Temple Bar alone hosts a number of small artistic places that most people likely don't even notice on the way by. First Thursdays are excellent times to slow down, take a look around, and pop in to somewhere you might never otherwise visit to see something that may stay in your mind for a good while.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pygmalion @ The Abbey

Dave and I were at Pygmalion in The Abbey last night.  The short review is: it's awesome and you must see it right now.

The Longer Version
Pygmalion was written by one of our most esteemed playwrights, George Bernard Shaw, and is set in pre-WWI London.  I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say that this is the play that spawned My Fair Lady, the (awful?) Lerner & Loewe musical made ridiculously famous by the Audrey Hepburn/Rex Harrison movie in the 60s, though her singing was dubbed.  There are some fairly big differences between the play and the musical but in places, the dialogue is almost identical.  A final random fact about MFL before I get on to its superior parent is that a young Julie Andrews played Eliza Doolittle in the original production but lost out to Hepburn in the movie version because she had no film experience at the time.

So the premise is a professor of English dialects & phonetics, Henry Higgins, undertakes to turn a Cockney flower seller, Eliza Doolittle, into a lady, by improving her speech, manners, dress, etc.  It's a classic ugly duckling story.  The Abbey's set is wonderful.  The opening scene with just 2 columns gives an impressive air of space and height.  The main set of Higgins' study is perfect - books and boxes with a piano and a desk.  Paul O'Mahony is the set designer, and reading his bio, I've loved several of his sets in the past.  Risteárd Cooper plays Higgins and Charlie Murphy plays Eliza, ably supported by Nick Dunning as Col. Pickering and the always fantastic Eleanor Methven as Mrs Higgins.  The whole cast is very strong but I have to particularly applaud the two leads.  The intensity of the final scene was riveting.  Murphy's accent change from Cockney to upper class toff is brilliant, even more so since I presume she is Irish.  The play is funnier than I expect though not an outright comedy.  I can see that some of the lines suggested the song titles in the musical version.

The costumes in this play are almost a character in their own right.  They were especially created by world-renowned designer, Peter O'Brien.  Admittedly, the Edwardian setting automatically means the costumes will be great but these are a step above.  In particular, I loved Eliza's first outfit for her lessons and her ball gown at the end, which trailed on the floor with an audible beaded heaviness when she walked.

So yeah, I have nothing bad to say about this play.  It's running until 11th June so you've plenty of time to GO SEE IT!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Trinity College Dublin Shakespeare Festival 2011

I have just learned through a mailing list that Trinity College Dublin Shakespeare Festival will take place 1st-11th of June. The festival is organised by DU Players. The headline performances this year will be Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night by the GB Theatre Company.

I attended this two years ago, when the headline show was A Midsummer Night's Dream, a play I can watch over and over and over again and never get bored of it. It was staged in Trinity's Rose Garden, which is a gorgeous place at the best of times, and the open-air performance of this wonderful fairy tale made it absolutely magical - rain and all! The seating was built by the wall of the Museum Building, and the action took place amidst the natural trees and bushes on the other side of the path. The sight of Titania's fairies peeking from behind real trees was delightful. I found that the arrangement made the actors sometimes hard to hear, and as it began to rain, it did get rather cold to sit in the wet evening, but fortunately (and generously) free coffee was served during the interval to warm the audience up. I can only imagine how cold the actors, especially the ones in the skimpier clothing, must have been. Nonetheless, the sense of magic was further enhanced by lights in the garden as the evening grew properly dark. I think just the fact that I can still remember this event very well illustrates how well it was done.

I very much recommend going to see the events of this festival. The DU players blog post to which I linked above promises more details and a website coming soon, so I will be watching that space.

Ninja visit to the Hugh Lane

Or to give its proper name, The Dublin City Gallery.  I had 30 minutes to kill in that part of town on Tuesday.  I considered browsing in Chapters but since browsing almost always turns into purchasing for me, I thought the gallery would be safer!  It is, of course, free, like most museums and galleries in Dublin, an unsung legacy of British rule.  I just had time to wander through the ground floor gallery which is made up of Impressionist (yay, Monet!) and modern art and the Francis Bacon studio, about which more below.

Here comes the history:
Sir Hugh Lane was Irish, brought up in England, and the nephew of Lady Augusta Gregory (who set up the Abbey).  Around 1901, he got the idea for a gallery of modern painting and set about assembling art for it and campaigning for a location, etc.  To further that aim, he organised the first ever contemporary exhibition of Irish paintings abroad in London, in 1904.  He was also a great collector of Impressionist art, and his collection formed the nucleus of the Hugh Lane gallery.  He did not live to see his ambition achieved in any permanent form: he was killed on the Lusitania when it was torpedoed off Cork in 1915.  Much has been written of the legal wranglings that followed his death between Dublin and London as they fought for control of the continental collection.  Eventually, after court cases, they came to a sharing agreement where the paintings go back and forth between here and the National Gallery in London.  Amongst these is one of my very favourite paintings, Les Parapluies by Renoir.  I didn't see it on Tuesday - and I didn't have time to ask whether it had already returned to London - I thought it was here for a few more years.

Les Parapluies by Auguste Renoir
One of the Gallery's major showpieces is the London studio of Francis Bacon, which was donated by his heir and transported in its entirety to Dublin and opened to the public in 2001.  I have to admit it baffles me.  I'm not a fan of Bacon's work and seeing his ridiculously messy studio just makes me long for Jif or Domestos or something: rather than inspiring me to create art, I just want to clean it.  Despite this, I can appreciate the unique way it is displayed.

Next time, I'll hopefully manage to visit the first floor!  They've got a good bookshop too.

On a side note, and I probably shouldn't highlight this too much but I often hear complaints that Dublin does not have enough (or any) public toilets.  Since galleries and museums are free, it's worth keeping in mind their always shiny clean facilities are conveniently located all over town, and sure stop in for some culture while you're at it!  And if one can have such a thing, my favourites are the National Library's - with beautiful old art nouveau decoration with comfy couches (for no apparent reason).

What's on in the next few weeks?

May is going to be a cracker.

Yesterday was the opening night of Pygmalion in the Abbey Theatre. Review to follow shortly - the good people of Twitter seem to have enjoyed it so far.

Today sees the start of a new show in the Burlington, Ragus.

Today is also of course a "First Thursday", the day each month when a range of cultural spaces will remain open in the evening to give you an extra chance to see them.

On Saturday there'll be celebrations over in Fallon & Bryne to mark their 5th anniversary. (I've been a regular shopper there for all that time.)

As Nina mentioned earlier, on 11th May there's a UNESCO City of Literature event, Murder in the City.

Also on 11th May there's The Beauty Queen of Leenane in the Gaiety. It runs until 4th June.

Later that week, on 13th May, the Dublin Dance Festival starts.

A few days later and we're into Catch Up On Culture Week by the Irish Museums Association.

On 23rd May the Dublin Writers Festival begins, continuing until 29th May.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Walking tours of Dublin

I've mentioned the Dublin City Council Let's Walk & Talk initiative in the past and they've just released their summer schedule.  As well as their extensive usual timetable, a couple of highlights this season include:

A Day of Infamy & Heroes - the North Strand Bombings
Tuesday, 31st May @ 12 noon
Commemorating the bombings in conjunction with the 70th anniversary plans.

Dublin's Little Jerusalem
Tuesday 24th May @ 2pm
Damn them!  They've run this before and I'm really keen to go on it but it's always on weekdays when I can't take time off work.  This includes a visit to the Irish-Jewish Museum in Portobello.

East Wall -  A Proud Community
Monday 13th June @ 1pm

Further details from their website.  All events are free and do not require booking.

Murder in the City

As part of Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, an event with contemporary crime writers from all over Europe will take place in the Sugar Club of Leeson Street on the 11th May. In addition to the writers reading and discussing their works, live music will be provided by a selection of DIT's finest.

No booking is required, but I can't help noticing that the City of Literature publicity is leaving out the start time. Thankfully, the Sugar Club's own website comes to the rescue and thus we learn that this intriguing event will start at 6.30 pm.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Seafarer

The Millbank Theatre in Rush is begins a new production of The Seafarer by Conor McPherson tomorrow, which runs Wednesday - Saturday weekly until 28th May.  The setting is a Christmas Eve card game and the arrival of a stranger from the past brings a Faustian element to the game.  Sounds good to me.  Rush Dramatic Society are one of the most professional amateur groups around.

Bookings can be made on 843 7475.

Mindfield - my thoughts

At the weekend I went along to see the final day of a new festival, Mindfield. I regret having not gone earlier - the events were varied and had many high-quality speakers/organisations involved, and the weather was perfect.

For all that I was impressed, though, there were clearly some problems. The bar didn't have any alcohol for most of the festival. Some events started late. There weren't quite enough outdoor seats. Most crucially of all though, the events just weren't full enough. Outside in the sun the festival was lively, but inside the tents there were lots of empty seats. Now I'll freely admit: I was only there on the final day. However one of the vendors at the festival felt that the earlier days had been no better (or even worse). And perhaps I'm just missing the obvious, but why would you hold a three day festival on a long weekend running from Saturday to Monday but run the festival from Friday to Sunday? Why not use another weekend, when people are less likely to be away, or else use the long weekend to your advantage?

I hope the organisers aren't put off by the lowish numbers. Culture Night, organised by Temple Bar Cultural Trust, took a few years to really get into its stride and establish itself as a major and well-known event. If Mindfield can maintain the quality of its events and get itself into the public awareness it should prove to be a success.

A few photos from the final day of Mindfield, Sunday 1st May.

Monday, May 2, 2011


A new play opened in Drogheda on Saturday.  Pineapple by Phillip McMahon is about the lives and loves of a Ballymun family.  Why am I mentioning a play in Drogheda?  Well, it's also coming to Axis in Ballymun (fittingly) and Draíocht in Blanchardstown later this week and next week.  Here's a video of it.