Donal Dineen: On My Culture Radar

The presenter on Kevin Barry’s magnificence, Eamonn Doyle’s photography, and his admiration of Jessie Buckley

Current favourite book

Kevin Barry's Night Boat to Tangier is a comic masterpiece. It's based around two aging drug dealers who travel to Spain for the last time. That's the bones of it, but it's an incredible study of a friendship. In typical Kevin Barry fashion, he seems to write about how Irish characters feel better than anyone I know. I have no doubt that Barry is up there with the greats – we're lucky he operates in our lifetime.


In Cork there’s Siopa Gan Ainm on Coal Quay. It’s an absolute treasure of a spot. They’re connected to a farm so they make their dishes with the fresh produce, and you can buy the produce too. Last time I visited there was a pianist playing in the attic.


I was lucky enough to see Michael Keegan-Dolan’s production of Giselle in 2003. It was a game-changer for me. I had never seen dance presented so visually before – unexpected stuff that hits you like a comet and forces you to see the world differently afterwards is the best. Every production since has been strikingly beautiful. Cormac Begley’s music was at the core of Mám so I had ridiculously high expectations when I went to see it at the Dublin Theatre Festival this year. It didn’t disappoint.


Having followed his meteoric rise to the top of the photography world with pride, I was glad that Eamonn Doyle’s debut Dublin show was staged with such panache this year at the RHA. His work is extraordinary and it was a tremendous buzz seeing it presented on a big scale. The exhibition was a compendium of his work to date, and it was beautifully presented; he collaborated with Niall Sweeney and sound designer David Donohoe on it. It still staggers me how transformative great art can be.



The Livelong Day by Lankum is an absolute triumph. They're at the epicentre of a huge shift in traditional music's tectonic plates. They are both reinventing the form and forging brave new ground. When someone takes the game up this far, all boats rise. Having said that, my album of the year is Sentinel by Jape. It's a profound meditation on love and loss set in a kind of sonic dream world. It's a high watermark in a career of peaks for Richie Egan.

There’s so much else going on too: Denise Chalia; Naïve Ted and Hazey Haze are all on my radar. Kojaque continues to blaze a trail. Junior Brother is another artist on a steep upward curve right now. The most exciting live act I saw this year was Davy Kehoe, and I loved his EP, The Pilot.


Emmet Kirwan never fails to blow me away, and he's also a brilliant writer. Some people make it look so easy don't they? Tommy Tiernan is another favourite. He was great in Dark Lies the Island. And as a Kerry man, it was lovely to watch the continued rise of Jessie Buckley this year. I saw her in Wild Rose and was so impressed with how she inhabited her character, and with a perfect Glaswegian accent. She rocks hard.


The only podcasts I listen to are James Yorkston’s 46-30, and occasionally The Blindboy Podcast. I know it’s harder to meet somebody who isn’t doing a podcast at present so I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m planning on entering the crowded market myself in 2020, so make some room! The theme is creative journeys, of all sorts. I’ll be recording it live at Luncheonette in NCAD, so we’ll have food and then I’ll make a programme. It’s been eight years since I was on the radio and the state of radio is so sad at present. I’ll try to bring the idea of radio to a new context.

TV show

I’m going to have to say This Ain’t No Disco. It’s music television, just not on old telly, that’s all. We decided to do the best we could to create a place where the music could go. It’s a safe haven to store all that gold at the very least. We made four shows in 2017, and we return with another four-part series, which we’re funding through Patreon. It feels good to be back, doing our bit.


I went to see The Joker twice, and it was such a treat for the eyes. It had incredible set design, incredible cinematography, and harks back to a different, classic age of cinema. It gets a perfect 10 from me.The other film that blew me away this year was Apollo 11, the documentary. It was a proper cinematic trip back in time.

The first episode of This Ain’t No Disco series two airs from January 1st 2020. See