The Guide: Rock Against Homelessness, Listowel Writers’ Week and other events to see, shows to book and ones to catch before they end

May 25th-31st, 2024: The best movies, music, art and more coming your way this week

Event of the week

Rock Against Homelessness

Sunday, May 26th, 3Olympia, Dublin, 6.30pm, €30,

It is no small achievement that this annual fundraising show in aid of Focus Ireland and the charity’s work to combat and avoid homelessness has Corinne Bailey Rae as its headline act. The Grammy-winning UK singer, whose 2023 album Black Rainbows was garlanded with praise by the New York Times, among others, and who last year headlined Guinness Cork Jazz festival, is joined by the Irish pop acts Toshín, Aimée and Isaac Butler and by the Irish roots/Americana ensemble The White Horse Guitar Club. The event’s MC is Laura Whitmore. Special guests? We’re saying nothing.


Doctor Millar

Tuesday, May 28th, Whelan’s, Dublin, 7pm, €18 (sold out),

“Between one thing and another workwise, I probably won’t ever get to do this in Dublin again,” says the songwriter Seán Millar, also known as Doctor Millar. “This” is a dual celebration of Millar’s 60th birthday and two of his solo albums, The Bitter Lie, from 1995, and Always Coming Home, from 2002, each of which has gained suitable recognition over the years (not least from the Scottish singer Paolo Nutini, who has admitted huge admiration for the former). In the playing of the two albums in their entirety, Millar will be joined by numerous guest musicians and singers – and, one presumes, a birthday cake large enough to place 60 candles.

The Staves

Tuesday, May 28th, Mandela Hall, Belfast, 7.30pm, £27.50; Wednesday, May 29th, Dolans, Limerick, 8pm, €30; Friday, May 31st, and Saturday, June 1st, Button Factory, Dublin, 8pm, €30,

Now down to the duo of Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor (following the amicable departure a few years ago of their sister, Emily), The Staves return to Ireland for a bundle of shows to promote their very fine fifth album, All Now. With their songs skilfully reconfigured for two-part harmonies, and with a more resilient snap to their fingers, expect the less-is-more approach here. Also, Sunday, June 2nd, Live at St Luke’s, Cork.


The Woman in Black

From Tuesday, May 28th, until Saturday, June 1st, Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, 7.30pm, €45/€35/€30,

After The Mousetrap, The Woman in Black is the longest-running non-music play in the history of the London’s West End. Adapted from Susan Hill’s 1983 book, it ran there from 1989 to 2023. Now evolved into a touring production, it is a tense, spooky tale delivered with minimal but highly efficient theatrical sleights of hand. The first half sets the scene calmly; don’t be surprised if the second has you occasionally gasping in shock and grasping the arm of the person beside you. Malcolm James and Mark Hawkins feature.


Visual art

Hilary Heron

Until Monday, October 28th, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, free (no booking),

The work of the Dublin-born modernist sculptor Hilary Heron (1923-77) is presented in the first significant retrospective exhibition for 60 years. Drawing on pieces in various mediums (including wood, steel, stone and lead) from Irish and international collections, the exhibition emphasises how overlooked Heron’s work as a woman artist was, and how it addressed themes of relationships, gender, history and religion. An adjunct to the exhibition is Redux: Contemporary Irish Sculptors at Venice, which points to Heron’s influence on later generations of women artists.

In conversation

Colin Barrett

Saturday, May 25th, Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co Mayo, 8pm, €15,

Best known for his vivid short-story collections Young Skins (2013) and Homesickness (2022), Mayo-raised writer Colin Barrett unleashed his debut novel, Wild Houses, earlier this year. It has collected an abundance of praise, including reviews in the Washington Post (Barrett’s dialogue “makes these characters sound so close you’ll be wiping their spittle off your face”) and this paper (“page after faultless page, Wild Houses is a sheer joy to read”). The author will read passages from the novel, participate in a public interview and take questions from the audience.


Listowel Writers’ Week

From Wednesday, May 29th, until Sunday, June 2nd, various venues, times and prices, Listowel, Co Kerry,

Founded in 1970, Listowel Writers’ Week is Ireland’s oldest literary/arts festival that holds true to its original intention of creating a literary universe and placing it into a heritage town. Curated by the Sligo-born poet Martin Dyar, and with a theme of Mother Nature coursing through its programme, highlights include numerous in-conversation events (Caoilinn Hughes, Colin Walsh, Sinéad Gleeson, Alice McDermott, Edel Coffey, Mike McCormick, Bill Whelan, Rachael English, Dr Tony Holohan), poetry (Erin Fornoff, Vona Groarke), book launches, film screenings lectures and workshops.


Open Ear 2024

From Friday, May 31st, until Sunday, June 2nd, various venues, Sherkin Island, Co Cork, noon, €244.90/€165,

The sixth edition of Open Ear features exclusive performances by highly regarded Irish and international experimental artists. The Irish line-up includes Hilary Woods, Nina Fitzgerald Graham, Dennis McNulty, Elaine Howley and The Cyclist, David Donohoe, Kate Carr, Pesci Tooth and RTÉ Lyric FM’s Ambient Orbit team (featuring Gareth Quinn Redmond, Méabh McKenna and Dan Walsh). Other names making their Open Ear debut include the Italian duo Wisecrack and the former My Bloody Valentine bass player Deb Googe. Transgressive, idiosyncratic, inspiring? Open Ear is all that and more.

Still running

Watch What Crappens

Saturday, May 25th, Liberty Hall Theatre, Dublin, 7.30pm, €44.20,

For one night only, Watch What Crappens podcast hosts Ben Mandelker and Ronnie Karam delve into the many gossipy delights (and a few cringey pitfalls) of reality television, specifically shows on the Bravo TV channel. Pop along for the lowdown on the likes of The Real Housewives, Below Deck and Vanderpump Rules.

Book it this week

Lucius, Button Factory, Dublin, August 22nd,
Bianca Del Rio, Vicar Street, Dublin, September 9th,
Paul Brady, NCH, Dublin, November 3rd,
The Unthanks, Live at St Luke’s, Cork, November 29th,
Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

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