The Guide: Cúirt, Samara Joy, Take That and other events to see, shows to book, and ones to catch before they end

April 20th-April 26th, 2024: The best movies, music, art and more coming your way this week

Event of the week

Cúirt International Festival of Literature

From Tuesday, April 23rd, until Sunday, April 28th, various venues, times and prices, Galway,

One of Ireland’s most prestigious literature festivals celebrates its 39th birthday with a doozy of a line-up across six days. Reading from their work are many well-known authors, including Elaine Feeney, Patrick deWitt, Lucy Caldwell, Lemn Sissay, Mark O’Connell, Raheef Ziadah, Sinéad Gleeson, John Banville and Edel Coffey, as well as one-on-one interviews with Annie Macmanus and Paul Lynch, among others, plus panel events, book launches, podcasts and creative-writing showcases. Highlights include An Evening with Colin Barrett, Lucy Caldwell and Glenn Patterson (Mick Lally Theatre, Wednesday, April 24th) and, in the festival’s grand finale, the poets Susannah Dickey, Elaine Feeney, Rita Ann Higgins and Jackie Kay (Town Hall Theatre, Sunday, April 28th).


Samara Joy

Saturday, April 20th, NCH, Dublin, 8pm, €32/€27/€22 (sold out),

An Ella Fitzgerald scholar? The winner of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition? Best Vocalist at the Essentially Ellington Festival? It could mean only one path for 24-year-old New Yorker Samara Joy McLendon: a career channelling the best women jazz singers. She has done exactly that across two studio albums, her self-titled debut, from 2021, and Linger Awhile, from 2022, which won a Grammy for best jazz vocal album. Joy makes her Irish debut with a sold-out show.

Niamh Bury

Sunday, April 21st, Róisín Dubh, Galway, 8pm, €14/€12,; Wednesday, April 24th, Dolans, Limerick, 8pm, €10,; Thursday, April 25th, Cleere’s, Kilkenny, 8.30pm, €12.50,

From busking on Dublin streets to basking in the acclaim for her debut album, Yellow Roses, the Dublin singer-songwriter Niamh Bury has been through a reasonable number of music-industry trials to get to the forefront of an Irish music community that intuitively blends folk, traditional and (hints of) jazz. She’ll also be at Whelan’s in Dublin on Sunday, April 28th.

Take That

Monday, April 22nd, and Tuesday, April 23rd, 3Arena, Dublin, 6.30pm, €78.25,

With three original members – Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald – remaining from their original line-up, Take That show little sign of taking their foot off the pedal. Indeed, the group’s most recent album, This Life, is up there with their best. Their live shows have only got better, so expect more than several visual crackers to complement the melody-driven bangers. If you can’t make it to these indoor shows, Take That return in June for outdoor dates in Cork (Virgin Media Park, Thursday, June 20th), Dublin (Malahide Castle, Friday, June 21st) and Belfast (Ormeau Park, Saturday, June 22nd).


Visual art

Mick O’Dea: What Is the Stars?

Until Wednesday, May 15th, Molesworth Gallery, Dublin,

Mick O’Dea, artist-in-residence for Druid’s production of Seán O’Casey’s Dublin trilogy of The Plough and the Stars, The Shadow of a Gunman, and Juno and the Paycock, has painted 24 scenes showcasing behind-the-scenes moments that most audiences never see. “In these paintings,” he says, “there’s a sense of anticipation of dramas yet to unfold.”


Cork World Book Festival

From Tuesday, April 23rd, until Sunday, April 28th, various venues, times and prices,

It may be on at the same time Cúirt International Festival of Literature (see Event of the Week), but Cork World Book Festival manages the not inconsiderable feat of having an almost completely different line-up across poetry and fiction. The festival’s opening event sees Olivia O’Leary talk to Elaine Feeney, Mary Morrissey and Evelyn Conlon about their roles as writers and as women in contemporary Ireland.


The Mysterious Case of Kitsy Rainey

Saturday, April 20th, Wexford Arts Centre, 7.45pm, €20/€18,; Thursday, April 25th, George Bernard Shaw Theatre, Carlow, 7pm, €21/€19,; Friday, April 26th, Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co Mayo, 8pm, €22/€20,

The third work in Mikel Murfi’s trilogy, after The Man in the Woman’s Shoes and I Hear You and Rejoice, once again features the provincial cobbler Pat Farnon (Murfi), who, following the discovery of a suitcase that his late wife, Kitsy, left for him, now understands more about her. Among the items in the suitcase, however, is a tape recording that acts as her last will and testament, which is when the fun, games and mysteries begin. Expect an acting masterclass. The production will be touring into May.

The Last Incel

From Tuesday, April 23rd, until Saturday, April 27th, Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, 8pm, 19/€16,

What happens when one of a group of involuntary celibates, or incels, admits to having had sex with a woman and when that woman then crashes their next online gathering? Trouble, that’s what. Developed at last year’s always invigorating Scene + Heard Festival (and now increased from 25 to 60 minutes’ long), Jamie Sykes’ play blends sharp satire with hard-hitting references to sexual violence towards women. Fiachra Corkery, Niall Johnson, Jackson Ryan and Justine Stafford star. Not recommended for under-18s.

Still running

New Music Dublin

From Thursday, April 25th, until Sunday, April 28th, NCH, Dublin, various times and prices,

The esteemed contemporary-music festival returns. The numerous highlights include Ambient Symphony (Saturday, April 27th, 7pm, €32.50), which features Jóhann Jóhannsson’s A Prayer to the Dynamo performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, followed by an original set by A Winged Victory for the Sullen.

Book it this week

Cork Midsummer Festival, June 12th-23rd,
Leftfield, Heineken Big Top, Galway, July 19th,
John Grant, Vicar Street, Dublin, October 22nd,
Mamma Mia, Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, November 25th-29th,
Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture