Gig of the Week: Clear the brain fog with The Irish Times Winter Nights festival

January 24-30: The best of the week’s cultural events

Brian O’Driscoll will speak with Ross O’Carroll-Kelly at The Irish Times Winter Nights Festival this week. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Getty Images

Brian O’Driscoll will speak with Ross O’Carroll-Kelly at The Irish Times Winter Nights Festival this week. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Getty Images

 

Irish Times Winter Nights Festival

Online, Monday January 24th-Thursday January 27th, Various times, €25-€50, irishtimes.com

Here’s the perfect way to clear that January brain fog: a burst of bright, lively conversation over four nights, featuring some of our most incisive and insightful thinkers, doers and dreamers. It’s a splash of fresh ideas guaranteed to refresh and rejuvenate the mind. You know the drill: some of our best-known public figures are interviewed by The Irish Times’s A-team; everybody wins.

The festival opens on Monday with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee talking to Jennifer Bray on a range of burning topics affecting Irish society (6.30pm). That’s followed by our man in the World Health Organisation, Dr Mike Ryan, talking to Jennifer O’Connell about navigating a global pandemic (9pm), and economist David McWilliams talking to Cliff Taylor about the many challenges facing the Irish economy.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will speak with Jennifer Bray at The Irish Times Winter Nights Festival this week. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will speak with Jennifer Bray at The Irish Times Winter Nights Festival this week. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

On Tuesday US author Bonnie Greer chats to Sorcha Pollak about politics, race, feminism and culture (6.30pm); BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie MacManus discusses her debut novel with Patrick Freyne (7.45pm); and British author and comedian David Baddiel talks with Hugh Linehan about the modern face of anti-Semitism (9pm).

Wednesday starts with a sporting theme as Irish Paralympic gold medallist Ellen Keane (6.30pm) talks to Irish Times sports columnist Joanne O’Riordan, followed by a veritable clash of rugby titans when ROCK aka Ross O’Carroll-Kelly meets his all-time hero BOD aka Brian O’Driscoll (7.45pm). Also, Fintan O’Toole chats with Hugh Linehan about his book We Don’t Know Ourselves, which pretty much nails the Irish psyche in the 21st century and has won Irish Book of the Year 2021 (9pm).

Caitlin Moran will talk with Kathy Sheridan about her new book at The Irish Times Winter Nights Festival this week Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Caitlin Moran will talk with Kathy Sheridan about her new book at The Irish Times Winter Nights Festival this week Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Annie MacManus will discuss her debut novel with Patrick Freyne at The Irish Times Winter Nights Festival this week
Annie MacManus will discuss her debut novel with Patrick Freyne at The Irish Times Winter Nights Festival this week

On the final night, Thursday night, poet Paul Muldoon chats with Róisín Ingle about his life in poetry, and how he spent five years immersed in Paul McCartney’s words and music to collaborate on McCartney’s bestselling book The Lyrics. The festival ends with author and feminist Caitlin Moran talking with Kathy Sheridan about her new book, More Than a Woman. As usual, your €50 ticket gets you access to the entire festival, plus a chance to catch up on anything you’ve missed, with Irish Times subscribers getting a whopping 50 per cent off.

TradFest

Various Venues, Dublin, Wednesday January 26th-Sunday January 30th, various times, tradfesttemplebar.com

Ireland’s traditional musicians are a hardy lot, playing through thick and thin, and keeping the home fires burning through the dead of winter. So they’re not going to let a pandemic stop them from bringing the tunes to the people. The unexpected change in public health restrictions last weekend may have changed some of the plans, allowing for more craic to be had at the festival. So do check their website for up-to-date information.

Highlights include a special concert by The Dublin Legends featuring former key members of The Dubliners. They will be joined by fellow legends Ralph McTell and Stockton’s Wing (National Stadium, Thurs 27th, 6pm €29.99); Kila & Friends, in which the trad/folk/roots band are joined by the likes of Steve Cooney, tin whistle player Cormac Breatnach, flute player Alan Doherty, uileann pipe musician Éamon Galldubh and fiddle player Aoife Kelly (Friday 28th, National Stadium, 6pm, €29.99); and a 55th anniversary celebration by folk-rock royalty Fairport Convention (St Patrick’s Cathedral, Saturday 29th, 6.30pm, €34.99).

Gabriel Byrne. Photograph: Cig Harvey/The New York Times
Gabriel Byrne. Photograph: Cig Harvey/The New York Times
Gabriel Byrne. Photograph: Larry Busacca/Getty Images
Gabriel Byrne. Photograph: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Walking with Ghosts

Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, Thursday January 27th-Sunday February 6th, 2022, gaietytheatre.ie

Talk about a homecoming. Actor Gabriel Byrne has written and stars in this special performance based on his best-selling memoir of growing up in Dublin, directed by Emmy award winner Lonny Price. Byrne has found success in Hollywood, but, as this show demonstrates, you can never really leave the ghosts of your past behind. Byrne explores an Ireland that has long vanished into the shadows, and revisits the people and places that shaped his destiny.

Craig Taborn will play in Dublin for one night only
Craig Taborn will play in Dublin for one night only
Craig Taborn playing the piano
Craig Taborn playing the piano

Craig Taborn: Shadow Plays

John Field Room, National Concert Hall, Dublin, Saturday January 29th, 6pm, €24.50, nch.ie

Want to see an astonishing musical disappearing act? US jazz pianist Craig Taborn is known as a fearless improviser with the ability to completely disappear into the music, and here’s a rare chance to catch this innovative musician as he brings his improvised recital Shadow Plays to the National Concert Hall for one night only. This promises to be an invigorating and deeply reflective performance, as Taborn demonstrates the chops that have made him an in-demand collaborator with the likes of James Carter, Tim Benre, Chris Potter and Dave Douglas. The last time Taborn played in Dublin, in 2019, still resonates with those who were lucky enough to be there.

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