Going out this bank holiday? Here’s the best of what to see and do

Our critical picks of the best festivals, family events and gigs on around the country this weekend

Selected highlights chosen by Michael Dervan, Jim Carroll, Arminta Wallace, Tony Clayton-Lea, Siobhán Long, Aidan Dunne, Peter Crawley and Cormac Larkin


Bray Jazz Festival
Various venoes, Fri-Sun, brayjazz.com
Bray Jazz Festival has been fighting the good jazz fight for the better part of two decades now, resisting the chamber-of-commerce model (heavy on the straw boaters, light on the modern jazz) in favour of consistently high-quality, artistically credible line-ups. Over the years, Bray has presented some major international figures (Andrew Hill, Steve Coleman and Tomasz Stanko) as well as catching up-and-coming names (Marius Neset, Ambrose Akinmusire and Kurt Rosenwinkel) and supporting local creative music (Fuzzy Logic, Oko, This Is How We Fly). Influential New York trumpeter Dave Douglas liked the Bray vibe so much, he even recorded an album there in 2007 – a major coup for the festival, and a real compliment to the receptive Bray audience.

This year’s festival keeps up the good work with a line-up that ticks all of the relevant boxes: international superstar – check (Lionel Loueke); 21st-century gender balance – check (Maarja Nuut, Malin Wättring, above, Shantala Subramanyam); high-quality local representation – check (Roamer); cult Australian piano trio - check (The Necks).


The conducive listening environment of the Mermaid Arts Centre hosts the festival headliners. West-African guitar genius Lionel Loueke (below) counts Herbie Hancock and Barack Obama among his admirers, and he's bound to add to them on Friday evening. On Saturday night, anarchic Manchester big band Beats & Pieces make their first Irish appearance since their raise-the-roof performance at the 12 Points festival in 2013. And on Sunday evening, rising Swedish saxophonist Malin Wättring brings her folky, bittersweet sound to the Mermaid.

Elsewhere on the bill, worth checking out on Friday will be outrageous Norwegian accordionist Stian Carstensen and Stravinsky-inspired Danish trio The Firebirds. On Saturday, beat a path to Carnatic flautist Shantala Subramanyam, Irish jazz supergroup Roamer, and Palestinian vocalist Ruba Shamshoum. Then on Sunday, with a little fancy footwork, it might just be possible to fit in Estonian techno-violinist Maarja Nuut, and three contrasting piano trios: Dublin's CEO Experiment with Venezuelan wunderkind Leopolod Osio; a new trio with adventurous Dublin pianist Greg Felton, Australian-Irish bassist Damian Evans and Catalan drummer Gonzalo Del Val; and last but not first, Australian trio the Necks. CL


Gas Gaeilge

Feile na Bealtaine, Dingle, Co Kerry. Thurs-Mon feilenabealtaine.ie
Pretty much every cultural goodie your heart could desire can be found in Dingle this weekend – and in two languages – as this celebration of all things Mayday gets into its stride. Alongside the big gigs – the Mozart Requiem, an acoustic evening with HamsandwicH, Katie Kim, Jack O'Rourke and Cormac Begley, art exhibitions, DJ sets, readings and discussions, there's a full programme of kid-friendly, free and family events. Author Shane Hegarty will bring his bestselling Darkmouth fantasy series to life at the Dingle Bookshop on Saturday at 1pm, while there's some mad trad to be had with Kila for Kids at the Skellig hotel on Sunday at 3pm. On Saturday afternoon from 2pm, the town park is the venue for a kids' day out, with workshops, live gigs and the Wobbly Circus Street Show. AW

Kilkenny Roots Festival

Various venues/times/ticket prices, Kilkenny, Fri-Mon kilkennyroots.com

This year, the Kilkenny Roots Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary, and while it is often ridiculously overlooked by the media in general, its influence and quality is obvious. Since 1998, it has attracted the likes of Ryan Adams, Calexico, Guy Clark, Ray LaMontagne and Alabama Shakes, as well as a rake of lower-profile names that never fail to hit the mark. As usual, this year's line-up mixes established names with newcomers, including Marah, Andrew Combs, Handsome Family (left), Joan Shelley, Holly Macve, Chip Taylor, and Carter Sampson. Kudos to Kilkenny Roots Festival head hombre John Cleere, for keeping it on track through the years. TCL

Cuirt International Festival of Literature

Various venues, Galway. cuirt.ie
Everything else is popping up these days - shops, restaurants, music festivals - so why not literature? Spend the day wandering around Galway's seductive streets, and time your peregrinations to take in performances by Miquel Barceló, Sarah Maria Griffin, Stephen Burt and Mary O'Malley at the following city-centre locations: McDonagh's chipper, Quay Street ( noon), Galway City Library, Augustine Street (2pm) and The Quays (4pm). AW

RTÉ NSO/Daniel Cohen

NCH, Dublin 8pm €15-€35 nch.ie

Sofia Gubaidulina's Offertorium, a Bach-infused violin concerto written for Gidon Kremer in 1980, was one of the composer's first works to become celebrated in the West. Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman (above) gives the 35-minute piece a belated Irish première at the NCH tonight, when the conductor is another Israeli musician, Daniel Cohen, who's appearing in Ireland for the first time. MD

Bastardo Electrico

Cyprus Avenue Cork 11pm €17.50/€12.50 facebook.com/bastardoelectricorecordings

The dons are in the house. When it comes to leading-edge underground techno, there are few in the business who can touch Slam's Stuart McMillan and Orde Meikle (above) for smarts and achievements. Longtime members of electronic music's top division, the Glasgow duo began DJing in the late 1980s before expanding into labels (the long-running Soma, the imprint which gave Daft Punk a start in 1995 ), productions and festivals, with the Slam tent a much loved feature at the currently on-hold T In the Park in Scotland. Support from Bastardo Electrico head honcho Jamie Behan. JC

Féile Chois Cuain

Louisburgh, Co Mayo all weekend feilechoiscuain.com

Louisburgh hosts its boutique festival for the 23rd year, with a very strong collective spearheading this year's raft of workshops, sessions and concerts. Jack Talty, Caitlín NicGabhann (above), Breda Keville, Ferdia Ó Mongáin are just a taster of the quality at this three day melée. With Croagh Patrick looming large, alongside Clew Bay, this is a weekend festival where tunes are as likely to be found lurking by mountains and streams as they are tucked in the darkest corner of a local pub. SL

Sligo International Chamber Music Festival

The Model, Sligo & St Columba's Church, Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo, until Monday sligochambermusic.ie

The Vogler String Quartet's (above) May bank holiday weekend festival was re-branded last year, and now splits its concerts between its original Drumcliffe home, with WB Yeats's grave outside the door, and the Model arts centre in Sligo town, where the Niland collection includes works by John and Jack B Yeats. Guests at this year's festival include the RTÉ Contempo Quartet (who will team up with the Voglers for the premiere of Midday, a new octet by Gerald Barry), pianist Hugh Tinney (whose repertoire will include Thomas Adès's Piano Quintet with the Contempos), clarinettist Ib Hausmann, Cassiopeia Winds, the Amatis Piano Trio, and the clair-obscur saxophone quartet. The well-mixed programme opens and closes with the Voglers in classic repertoire, Schubert, Tchaikovsky and Brahms. MD

Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola

The King's Head, High St, Galway 1pm €10/€8 cuirt.ie
Inis Oírr singer Ní Chonaola carved out a niche for herself from the opening strains of her splendid debut album, An Raicín Álainn, in 2002. Her voice is a distilled essence, unburdened by unnecessary decoration and utterly her own. Her most recent album, One Penny Portion, was a timely reminder of how much at ease she is with both traditional and contemporary material, even venturing in the direction of Americana. This lunchtime concert, 'Songs From A Room' sees her guesting at the Cúirt International Festival of Literature. Hush now. SL

Right Here Right Now

Opera House, Cork. Various times/ prices, corkoperahouse.ie
A new Bank Holiday music festival co-presented by Cork Opera House and Coughlan's Live venue, Right Here Right Now is so Cork-centric is should come with an accent, like. Highlights include Interference and guests (tonight), Jack O'Rourke, with the Opera House Concert Orchestra (tomorrow), Mick Flannery, with Marlene Enright (Sunday), and a double- bill of Marc O'Reilly and John Blek & the Rats (Sunday). TCL


Social & Co Limerick 10pm €7/€5 skirmishblog.net
Townlands Carnival is one of the Irish festival scene's new kids and it returns to Macroom from July 21st-23rd with acts such as Krafty Kuts, Rubberbandits, Stomptown Brass Band, Jack O'Rourke and dozens more. Tonight's launch bash for the festival is hosted by Skirmish blog, who'll be helming their own stage at the event. Dublin-born and London-based DJ and producer Peadar Ó Brádaigh, AKA P-Hocto, is joined tonight by Warren Knowles, a longstanding Cork hero when it comes to club nights down south including gigs like the Oil Baron's Ball, Maas and Electric Underground. JC

Sue Rynhart

Fumbally Stables, Dublin 8, 8pm, €14/€12, note.ie

Vocalist and composer Sue Rynhart's 2014 album Crossings was a fresh-as-a-daisy debut from a defiantly original voice. Most striking was the austere instrumentation, just the composer's delicate, classically trained voice and Dan Bodwell's shuddering double bass. Her follow-up, Signals, adds another layer – multi-instrumentalist and early instrument specialist Francesco Turrisi on lute and frame drum – to the mix, but the sparse, intimate atmosphere that made Crossings so special is still there. Admission price to the album launch includes a copy of the new CD. CL


Bruno Mars

3Arena Dublin 8pm, Also Sun €92/€72/€45.05 ticketmaster.ie

Honolulu-born Peter Gene Hernandez, aka Bruno Mars (above), one of the world's best-selling solo artists, is a born entertainer, so if you're looking for full-blown retro razzamatazz – with a wide variety of music styles – then here's the gig for you. More interesting for some, perhaps, is the sublime support act Anderson.Paak, who after his Sunday slot will play a brief live set at Dublin's Academy. Paak and a few musician friends will, we are told, play a minimum of three songs with the possibility of more. Would you risk that for €26? You never know who might show up. TCL

Visible Lights

Six lighthouses, various locations, Saturday to Monday, greatlighthouses.com

Time to shine a light on summer as the lighthouses of Ireland open their doors for a weekend of discovery, stories and music. From Hook Head in Co Wexford to Loop Head in Co Clare, Rathlin Island in Co Antrim and Valentia Island in Co Cork, six of our most iconic lighthouses are taking part in the festival. Each has its own programme of events, which includes craft fairs, guided walks, readings and historical re-enactments. Hook has a pirate school on Saturday while in Valentia on Sunday there's traditional music, a heritage talk on Cromwell Fort and a sneak peek at the history of the area's International Dark Sky Reserve. At Rathlin, experts from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) will introduce the 125 resident seabirds – plus the thousands of visiting kittiwakes and razorbills who nest along the cliffs. AW

The Night Institute

The Foundry Belfast 9pm £10 thenightinstitute.com
There's a month or thereabouts to go until the AVA festival brings Jeff Mills, Marcel Dettmann, Ben UFO, Bicep and dozens more to the city. Tonight, The Night Institute do a spot of warming up for the main event with a visit from Running Back's Gerd Janson. Running Back is the label which has given the world releases by Leon Vynehall, Paul Woolford, Syclops, Redshape, Tiger & Woods and more. In his own stead, Janson has been behind the decks for nearly two decades, working at clubs like Frankfurt's Robert Johnson, writing for Groove and Spex magazines, releasing compilations with Jazzanova on Sonar Killecktiv and one of the staff at the RBMA Academy. Support from Timmy Stewart and Jordan. JC

Equine Escapades

AES Family Day, Punchestown Racecourse, Naas, Co Kildare, gates open 11.30am, punchestown.ie

Fun for all ages is the running order of the day at this fun-packed family event, at which all children under 14 go free when accompanied by an adult. The Punchestown Junior Jockey Fun club is a 60,000-square-foot area dedicated to free children's entertainment, with bouncy castles, a bounce 'n' slide, pony rides, a disco dome and a soft-finish obstacle course. At 1.30pm the 20-piece Tallaght Festival Band will lead the annual fancy dress parade – and there's no escape, for children of all ages are urged to take part. Parents might need to escape to the festival shopping village for a spot of retail rejuvenation, with stalls devoted to jewellery, homewares, food and much, much more. Highlight of the whole thing: a massive display of army equipment and tanks, showcased by members of the Irish Defence Forces from the Curragh. Oh, and there's racing on as well, with the champion four-year-old hurdle being the feature race. AW


The Dock, Carrick on Shannon 8.30pm €16/€14 dock.ie
This five piece band, with members from Armagh and Tyrone, are tearing up the rule book with their bold approach to the tradition. With a fiery reputation for humdinger live performances, Cúig do a fine trade in taking no prisoners and redefining the contours of the tradition. Every genre needs its young turks, and Cúig look like they may be ready to take up that mantle. SL


Joan Shelley

McHugh's, Belfast 7.45pm £8 cqaf.com; also Wed, Greyhound Bar, Kilkee, Co Clare 8pm €10; Thurs, Whelan's Upstairs Dublin 8pm €13 whelanslive.com

Kentucky traditionalist folk singer-songwriter Joan Shelley (left) has been poking her fingers at the fabric of mainstream appeal for almost 10 years, a songwriter with a crystal-clear voice (think Sandy Denny, Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan) who evokes both US and British folk revivals as well as hints of slowcore and spooky Appalachian. She will be previewing material from a forthcoming album, as well as performing songs from her most recent, Over and Even, which nabbed Album of the Year gongs at both NPR Music and the Los Angeles Times. TCL

Love and War

Teacher's Club, Parnell Square, 2.30 pm, gaytheatre.ie
The "war to end all wars" wiped out a generation of young men and changed the socio-political landscape of Europe for ever. Poets and novelists have reflected on its impact ever since, and so does this seminar, the opening event of the 14th International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, which features a panel of international speakers plus a dramatised reading from Lance Ringel's cult novel Flower of Iowa. Admission is free, but you need to reserve a seat in advance. AW


The Limelight Belfast 9.30pm £17 shine.net

The Black Madonna (above) makes her debut in Belfast to headline this classy bill from the Shine crew. Chicago DJ and producer Marea Stampe has made serious waves in the Past 18 months with appearances at DC10, Boiler Room, Dekmantel and Panorama Bar. The release of the fantastic He Is the Voice I Hear underlined and emphaised that upwards trajectory, a track full of heart, soul and sublime grooves. JC

Francois K

Pyg Dublin 9pm €10 pyg.ie

There's no arguing with the fact that Francois Kevorkian (left) is entitled to legend status at this stage of the game. A DJ who has been part of the fabric at so many seminal New York club nights and parties, Kevorkian is the guy who can join up the dots between then and now with ease. As a producer, he's remixed superstars like U2, The Cure, Eurythmics, Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode and whose Wave imprint still provides a home for deep, dubby disco grooves. Support from Colin Perkins and Baba Robijn. JC


Project, Waterford 5pm €15/€12/€10
Ian Pooley is master craftsman when it comes to honing house and techno grooves into strong, distinctive tracks, the German producer's run of past albums Since Then (2000), Souvenirs (2004) and What I Do (2013) established him as a firm favourite in Ireland over the years. Aside from support on the night from Warren and Kenno, Republik will also be using this bash to showcase the best of new local talent. You can catch Smurf, Geoff Foley, Eddie Galavan, Davin Coady, Brian Westood, Sean Comer and Jack Kiely in action from 5pm. JC

Booker T Jones

Festival Marquee, Belfast 7.45pm £20 cqaf.com; also Tues Vicar St Dublin 7.30pm €45.50 ticketmaster.ie

You don't see many Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winners this side of the Atlantic, so it's a pleasure to once again welcome Booker T Jones (above) to Ireland. Now aged 72, Jones was a child prodigy who became a professional musician at 16, co-founded Booker T & the MGs two years later and co-wrote the classic Green Onions. Over the past few decades Jones has released acclaimed albums in collaboration with the likes of Questlove, Lou Reed, Raphael Saadiq, Estelle, Matt Berninger, and Mayer Hawthorne. Get ready to groove – oh, and we know you're wondering: the 'T' stands for Taliaferro. TCL


Linton Kwesi Johnson

Festival Marquee, Belfast 6.45pm £6 cqaf.com

Born in Chapleton, Jamaica, in 1952, Linton Kwesi Johnson is one of the most important voices in contemporary socio-political poetry ("writing was a political act and poetry was a cultural weapon," he told the Guardian in 2008). He first came to prominence in 1977 in London at the cross-cultural intersection of punk and reggae, and through albums – each co-produced by him and Barbados-born musician Dennis Bovell – such as Dread Beat an' Blood (1978), Forces of Victory (1979) and Bass Culture (1980), the new genre of dub poetry was created. Johnson's exacting, compelling performances are rare, so this one is quite special – ladies and gentlemen, please pay your respects to the first black poet to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics series. TCL

A Name Unmade: Francis Ledwidge (1887-1917)

Sven Anderson, Patricia Burns, David Farrell, Clare Langan, Mick O'Dea, Niamh O'Malley and Sasha Sykes. Solstice Arts Centre, Railway St, Navan, Co Meath Until June 16 solsticeartscentre.ie
Solstice's curator-in-residence Sabina Mac Mahon has put together an exhibition of new and recent work by contemporary visual artists to be viewed in relation to the life and work of the Meath "poet, naturalist, activist, nationalist and soldier" Francis Ledwidge, who was killed in the lead-up to the Third Battle of Ypres on July 31, 1917. Though Ledwidge was known as a war poet, Mac Mahon notes, "the majority of his works focuses on an emotionally intense exploration of the intimate and complex connection he felt to the landscape in which he grew up". Sven Anderson, Patricia Burns, David Farrell, Clare Langan, Mick O'Dea, Niamh O'Malley and Sasha Sykes are the artists. There will be workshops throughout the run, a walk-through by the curator at 1.30pm on May 20th, and a showing of the award-winning 1973 RTÉ documentary Behind The Closed Eye, written and narrated by Brian Cleeve, at 8pm on June 6th. AD