Island culture: events worth getting on the boat for

The Drop Everything cultural biennial will soon take over Inisheer with art, music, and a specially built sauna

Inisheer is one of several islands hosting cultural happenings this summer. Photograph: Chris Hill

Step on to Inisheer island next weekend, from May 27th to 29th, and you'll find yourself at the heart of Drop Everything. The cultural biennial will this year have its third edition, which sees the stunning scenery of the Aran Island given an extra cultural complement.

At the last event, in 2014, after hopping off the boat or plane, it was immediately clear that something special was taking place. Song lyrics stitched on sheets fluttered with the washing in back gardens; slim poles stood sentry on the village’s main beach, before it popped into colourful life at night; the programme asked people to not be “acting the maggot . . . Make lifelong friends and please don’t litter”.

The event is curated by Mary Nally, who this week was herding the cats of DE's final preparations, which involved sourcing silage wrap and a helicopter. The event will have talks, installations, screenings, DJ sets and impromptu happenings, along with communal dining featuring Katie Sanderson, and a shop selling products created by collaborating artists.

Zebra Katz (also known as Ojay Morgan) is one of New York's leading queer hip-hop artists, and plays a midnight show in the local school hall. Manchester's pop trio Ménage à Trois also perform, along with Mr Silla, an outstanding Icelandic artist and sometime member of Múm whose debut, eponymous album was one of the best albums of last year.


Visual art exhibitions will be created by Finnish photographer Maria Lax and Ireland's Andrew Nuding. The island's indoor handball alley will be turned into an immersive installation by light artist Chris Lunney.

Director Dave Tynan is also creating an event "at sea" with actor and writer Emmet Kirwan. And the beach will get a temporary addition thanks to a site-specific sauna designed by Irish architecture graduate Emmett McNamara. Sprints to the sea after a sweaty session are mandatory.

Capacity at DE is limited to 300, with guests asked to pre-register for access on its eventbrite page and to contribute what they can afford.

More island events

This isn't the only cultural takeover on an island this summer. This weekend, DIT's BA in Visual Art Programme is having its graduate show on Sherkin Island. Uncover features paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations and video in 13 different locations on the Cork island, with art-trail maps available to visitors who can bike around the whole show.

On June 2nd to 5th, the Inish: Island Conversations festival is taking place on Inishbofin. Among those taking part are Kevin Barry, Olivia Smith, Claire Kilroy, Edna Longley, Olwen Fouéré, Michael Longley, Theo Dorgan and more. English artist Norman Ackroyd, who specialises in aquatint work, will be there with an exhibition of his work. Music comes from jazz pianist Martin Tingvall, along with Steve Wall, Jack L, Máirtín Ó Connor and and the ConTempo String Quartet. The documentary Atlantic will also be screened along with Paula Kehoe's Deargdhil: Anatomy of Passion, a study of the Irish poet Máire Mhac an tSaoi.