The Irish Times Summer Nights festival: Everything you need to know

Chris O’Dowd, Maureen Dowd and Mary Lou McDonald among guests for online series

The 2021 Irish Times Summer Nights online festival takes place from June 28th to July 1st with a host of high-profile guests including writers, politicians, and actors in conversation with Irish Times journalists.

Supported by Peugeot, the festival takes place over four evenings.

The final line-up has now been revealed. The guests for the festival’s opening night are CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan, economist and Irish Times columnist David McWilliams, and Moone Boy and Bridesmaids actor Chris O’Dowd.

Among those on the bill for the festival are Women's Six Nations star Linda Djougang, author Roddy Doyle, and singer Chris de Burgh, who will be in conversation with Ross O'Carroll-Kelly creator Paul Howard.


The festival will also feature an interview with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, who will discuss her thoughts on a united Ireland with Irish Times columnist Kathy Sheridan.

International guests for the series include Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Maureen Dowd, novelist Elif Shafak, feminist writer Mona Eltahawy, and former British prime minister Gordon Brown, who will talk with Fintan O'Toole about the most pressing issues facing the world.

Among the other hosts are Irish Times writers and editors Jennifer O'Connell, Róisín Ingle, Hugh Linehan, Sorcha Pollak and Patrick Freyne.

This year’s Summer Nights festival follows on from the first such event last July, as well as the Irish Times Winter Nights festival in January. The full programme is below.

How to get tickets

For tickets, go to A single price of €50 admits ticket-holders to all events at the festival. Irish Times digital subscribers can purchase tickets at the discounted price of €25 – just make sure you are signed in to your Irish Times account when booking and the discount will be automatically applied.

All events will be recorded and in the week following the festival, attendees will receive an email with a link so you can catch up on anything you miss, or watch back an event.

All ticket holders will be sent instructions by email on how to join the festival in the afternoon of Monday, June 28th.

The Irish Times Summer Nights programme in full

Monday, June 28th

From Cahersiveen to Capitol Hill
With Donie O'Sullivan and Jennifer O'Connell
CNN correspondent and proud Kerryman Donie O'Sullivan joins us from Washington, DC, to talk to Irish Times columnist Jennifer O'Connell about mental health, the rise of the right and the storming of Capitol Hill.

Fixing Ireland's Housing Problem
With David McWilliams and Jennifer Bray
Housing will be a deciding factor in the next general election. Irish Times columnist David McWilliams talks to Irish Times political correspondent Jennifer Bray about equitable solutions to a national crisis.

A (Ros)Common Man
With Chris O'Dowd and Patrick Freyne
Ten years after his career-changing comedy Bridesmaids, Moone Boy actor Chris O'Dowd talks to Irish Times features writer Patrick Freyne about Hollywood and fatherhood.

Tuesday, June 29th

The Politics of Fiction
With Elif Shafak and Sorcha Pollak
Turkish-born novelist and thinker Elif Shafak talks to New to the Parish writer Sorcha Pollak about how art intersects with pressing global issues, from women's rights to refugees.

The Next Taoiseach?
With Mary Lou McDonald and Kathy Sheridan
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald could be this country's first woman Taoiseach. Irish Times columnist Kathy Sheridan talks to her about her life, her politics and her thoughts on a united Ireland.

Lads In Red
With Chris de Burgh and Paul Howard
As he prepares to get back on the road for the first time in more than a year, singer Chris de Burgh talks to Ross O'Carroll-Kelly creator Paul Howard about his storied musical career.

Wednesday, June 30th

Front Line to Front Row
With Linda Djougang and Joanne O'Riordan
Star of the Women's Six Nations Linda Djougang answers Ireland's call both as a student nurse and on the rugby pitch. She talks to Irish Times columnist Joanne O'Riordan about performing under pressure.

Looking for America
With Maureen Dowd and Hugh Linehan
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Maureen Dowd has been a columnist on The New York Times Op-Ed page since 1995. Irish Times Arts and Culture Editor Hugh Linehan asks her about Biden's America and the legacy of Trump.

Seven Ways to Change The World
With Gordon Brown and Fintan O'Toole
Former British prime minister and leader of the British Labour Party Gordon Brown talks to Irish Times columnist Fintan O'Toole about the most pressing problems facing the world and how to fix them.

Thursday, July 1st

Necessary Sins for Women & Girls
With Mona Eltahawy and Róisín Ingle
Feminist firebrand and author Mona Eltahawy tells Irish Times columnist Róisín Ingle why women and girls should be angry, ambitious, profane and even violent in order to dismantle the patriarchy.

The Thrill of it All
With Jo Spain & Bernice Harrison
Dublin thriller writer Jo Spain talks to Irish Times writer Bernice Harrison about her prolific bookwriting and screenwriting career and working on TV drama Harry Wild.

Love & Commitments
With Roddy Doyle and Fintan O'Toole
Booker Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle talks about his literary life and times with old friend and fellow Dubliner Fintan O'Toole.