If you only do one thing this weekend … throw the book at McWilliams
Go: When he’s not travelling the country agitating for change in Ireland’s economic policies or giving politicians a statistical brow-beating, David McWilliams finds the time to get involved with the Dalkey Book Festival, which he organises with his wife Sian Smyth. Giving the strength of its lineup, McWilliams must have pulled in a lot of favours, or maybe he has giving out a heap load of free financial advice, to secure some of the names in Dalkey this weekend (though it helps when a healthy chunk of the local populace is in the writing, film and/or media game).
The to-be-expected list of heavyweight political pugilists includes Pat Kenny, Mark Little, Bruce Arnold, Vincent Browne, Maryam Nemazee, Declan Kiberd , Margaret E Ward, John Simpson, Frank McNally and Colm O’Mongain. Featured writers include Paul Murray, John Boyne, Maeve Binchy, Barry Murphy, Katie Donovan, Sarah Webb, Kevin Barry, Roddy Doyle, Tim Pat Coogan, Dermot Bolger and plenty more.
The festival will also be screening a number of films made by locals, and there is a fine public interview series as well, with Conor McPherson and Billy Roche talking to Dave Fanning on Sunday night, and Jim Sheridan taking questions after a screening of Brothers. Pick of the bunch probably goes to a screening of The Butcher Boy, followed by a Q&A session with Stephen Rea, Eamonn Owens and Neil Jordan. Click here for more details.
Listen: A few weeks back, IMC began its Whirligig series of concerts, and this edition focuses on desert blues. Leading the pack is Mariem Hassan, whose songs are weaved from stories of refugee camps and governments and militias struggling to control lands almost without borders. Niwel Tsumbu’s quartet lends support, with the intriguing addition of Francesco Turrisi to the band, with Nigel Wood on the decks. It’s at the Twisted Pepper tomorrow (Friday) night, for €15. Click here for more details.
Hear: It’s all very well using enormous banks of amplifiers a la AC/DC or Status Quo to generate noise (even if in truth it’s one small amp doing all the work), but if it’s a physical pushing of air in a room you want, you can’t beat a good pipe organ. It’s the ultimate in statement instruments, don’t you know (after all, you’ll need a cathedral-sized extension to house the thing). This weekend, the Pipeworks Festival kicks off, with events in Cork, Dublin and Dundalk (the Paris of the northeast) that incorporate the Dublin International Organ Competition. For more festival details click here, or watch the video below for a little blast of these colossal beauties. And no, In A Gadda Da Vida is not on the programme.
See: Irish art has often being accused of focusing on overly familiar themes – landscapes of the west, rain-drenched scenes of nature and the like. There is a lot of it out there, but almost none of it deserve’s to share gallery space with the work of Barrie Cooke. In an illustrious career, the English artist, based in Ireland since the 1950s, has concentrated on desolate rural scenes of varying abstraction, with paintings of visceral colour and dark, brooding intensity. It’s not just Ireland that has got under his skin though; his work has all the hallmarks of a restless, peripatetic existence that is elemental in a way that is impossible to imitate. The current show at Imma marks his 80th birthday.
Finally, those of you who could see the night sky last night no doubt were stunned by the spectacle. For the rest of us stuck under a blanket of cloud, here is a little majestic moonlight surfing magic.