Gig of the Week: Wexford Festival Opera has Shakespeare in the heart

October 18th-24th, 2021: The best of the week’s culture events, right around Ireland


Wexford Festival Opera
Tuesday, October 19th, to Sunday, October 31st; National Opera House, Wexford; various times and prices;
The festival's new artistic director, Rosetta Cucchi, took up her role just as the pandemic hit, so found herself directing a very different event in 2020. This year, she and a huge cast of performers, crew and opera buffs are looking forward to the festival's return to live action. This year's theme is Shakespeare in the Heart. The Bard's presence will be felt in many of the texts and interpretations on offer, such as Alfredo Catalani Edmea, whose source is Alexandre Dumas but whose themes go back to Stratford-on-Avon. Shakespeare is a more overt presence in I Capuletti e i Montecchi, the tale of the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Guilietta, which was first staged in Venice in 1830 by composer Vincenzo Bellini and librettist Felice Romani. We're looking forward to a mid-autumn week's dream of great opera once again.

Galway Comedy Festival
Tuesday, October 19th, to Monday, October 25th,
More than 80 comedians will converge on Galway for the October bank holiday, including Nina Conti, Ed Byrne, Deirdre O'Kane, Reginald D Hunter, Shappi Khorsandi, Ardal O'Hanlon, Kevin McAleer and Andrew Maxwell. The opening-night gala, featuring Ardal O'Hanlon, Rich Hall, Emma Doran and Aideen McQueen (Tuesday, October 19th, 8pm) has sold out, but you can livestream it for €15 per household. Also, if you've the appetite for it, book your table for Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience, in which Basil, Sybil and Manuel serve up some culinary comedy (Wednesday, October 20th, to Friday, October 22nd, at 7pm, Galmont Hotel, from €54). Just don't mention the war.

Wednesday, October 20th to Sunday, October 24th, National Concert Hall,
This series of immersive experiences has been curated by The Irish Times columnist Una Mullally and Conner Habib, as part of the NCH's autumn season, Refractions. These experimental shows will set out to recalibrate our senses to become more open to to new sights, sounds and ideas, and a different way of doing things in a changed world. The series kicks off with a live podcast event, Everyone United (Wednesday, October 20th, 7.30pm) and continues with Republic of Birds: John Moriarty's Visions of Ireland, a celebration of the Irish mystic and philosopher (Thursday, October 21st, 7.30pm), among other events.

Waterford Writers Weekend
Thursday, October 21st, to Sunday, October 24th, Waterford,
Although the Imagine festival, which started last week, is still in full swing, the city can still find time to take in its sister festival. Some of our finest writers are lined up for the weekend, including Rónán Hession, who will talk about his second novel, Panenka, a tale of a former footballer with more than a few regrets (Friday, October 22nd, 1pm, Central Library, Lady Lane, free); the Waterford native Megan Nolan, who will read from her celebrated debut, Acts of Desperation (Saturday, October 23rd, 1pm, Theatre Royal, €6.50); the Observer columnist Séamas O'Reilly, who will talk about his funny and poignant memoir, Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? (Friday, October 22nd, 5pm, Central Library, Lady Lane, free); and the young-adult author Deirdre Sullivan, who will talk about her latest novel, Precious Catastrophe (Thursday, October 21st, online, noon, free).


Púca Festival
Saturday, October 23rd, to Sunday, October 31st, Trim, Athboy & Slane, Co Meath & Drogheda, Co Louth,
If you go down to the woods, fields or castles around Co Meath this Halloween, you might see some strange and scary goings-on, as mythical creatures roam and spectacles light up the sky. Púca Halloween Festival's four hubs – Slane Castle, Trim, Athboy and Drogheda – will host music, fire, feasting and merriment. Attractions include Murder Hole Tours with Cynthia Simonet (Monday, October 25th, to Sunday, October 31st, 6pm, Trim Castle, €8), Trim: Awaken the Spirits, a phantasmagorical illumination on the walls of Trim Castle (Wednesday, October 27th, to Sunday, October 31st, 6pm, €5) and musical acts including Jerry Fish (Trim Castle Hotel, Friday, October 29th, to Sunday, October 31st, 8pm, €30) and the award-winning singer-songwriter Aoife Scott (Sunday, October 31st, 8pm, Old Mollies, Drogheda, €15).

Biggest 90s disco
Saturday, Oct 23rd, 3Arena, 7pm, from €47
The 2020s have been a bit of a disaster, what with the pandemic, climate-change catastrophes, and the rise of far-right populism. No wonder we long for the heady days of the 1990s, when the Celtic Tiger was in full roar, bands still sold physical records, and neon tracksuits, oversized sweatshirts and rah-rah skirts were the ultimate sartorial statement. This celebration of the decade when we larged it up good and proper is the first post-lockdown event at 3Arena, and the line-up is a 1990s fever dream (or nightmare, depending on how you look at it), featuring Gala, 2 Unlimited, Whigfield, Rednex, N-Trance and Alice Deejay from Atomic Kitten.