Your guide to the best live gigs and festivals this week

From the Dublin Fringe Festival to a 3,000-year-old epic tale on the screen

Gig of the week

Dublin Fringe Festival
September 11th-26th

This year’s Fringefest promises to take full advantage of the recent lifting of restrictions, with a programme of events that will overrun the city and seep into every nook and cranny, bringing light and laughter back into the capital. The programme is packed with events both outdoor and indoor, so pick and choose what works for you.

There will be stunning visual art displays around the city, open-air performances at Dublin Castle and Grand Canal Lock and cutting-edge arts events in the Abbey Theatre, Project Arts Centre, Smock Alley, Chapel Royal and Draíocht Blanchardstown. Among the highlights of the opening weekend is Masterclass (September 10th-18th Project Arts Centre) Brokentalkers’ fearless and funny feminist takedown of the “great male artist”, starring Adrienne Truscott; Artist at Work (September 11th-26th, various locations) featuring the diverse talents of Mairead Folan, Kevin Keogh, Mufutau Yusuf, Zeda the Architect, Patrick Quinn and Tafadzwa Donald Mzondo; Dublin 8, Yer Lookin’ Great (September 11th-26th), in which renowned street artist Emmalene Blake creates a new mural on Swift’s Alley, with advice and inspiration from the local kids; and a confessional performance by comedian Joanne McNally (Project Arts Centre – Space Upstairs), who wil tell you everything about her life – and then try to get you to spill the beans on your own life.

Waterford Harvest Festival
September 6th-12th


Ireland’s hospitality industry has had cause to celebrate with the lifting of many restrictions from July, and what better way to celebrate than with a visit to “Ireland’s number one food destination” to spend the week wining and dining and sampling the best in foodie culture. This is the 12th year for Waterford Harvest Festival, and an abundance of dining-out experiences, seasonal dishes, tasting trails and other culinary delights are promised, in such locations as Momo restaurant, Everett’s, the Stable Yard, the Old Couch Cafe and Grady’s Yard.

Watch the chefs of The Reg shucking oysters and sample them yourself with a smooth Guinness, sample from almost 300 varieties of Irish whiskey at the Revolution Craft Beer & Whiskey Bar, and step up for the Mega Burger Challenge at the Apple Market’s Revolution Bar. There will be lots of musical events to help everything go down smoothly, and of course lots of chat and camaraderie over fine food.

The Shaking Bog Festival
September 10th-12th
Sep Glencree, Co Wicklow

Art and nature meet again in the beautiful surrounds of Glencree Valley in Co Wicklow for this three-day literary festival, featuring a host of writers, poets, musicians, artists and wildlife experts.

If you’re a lover of words, music and nature trails, you’ll be in good company in and around the valley, so open your mind and get ready to connect with some like-minded souls. Mary Coughlan will perform the opening concert (Friday 10th, Glencree Marquee, 8.30pm, €20); writer and Fighting Words founder Roddy Doyle will be in conversation with his friend Dearbhail McDonald, chatting about his many literary achievements, the lates of which is his short story collection Life Without Children (Sunday 12th, Glencree Marquee, 11am, €8-€15); award-winning poet Liz Berry and musician Paddy Glackin, founding member of The Bothy Band, will stage a meeting of hugely creative minds (Saturday 11th, St Patrick’s Church, Enniskerry, 3pm €8-€15); and Michael Longley – a towering poet whose work is never too lofty - will deliver a reading followed by a chat with Prof Margaret Kelleher (Saturday 11th, Glencree Marquee, 7pm €8-€15).

Clonakilty International Guitar Festival
September 10th-19th

It’s second only to the hurl as Ireland’s most popular piece of wood, and the 17th Clonakilty International Guitar Festival will celebrate the power of the six-stringed yoke in an event that is spreading out a little to allow for social distancing and safe interaction.

Fretboard virtuosos will mingle with showy guitar shredders and understated twiddlers in various venues in the picturesque seaside town, and among the guests are John Spillane, John Francis Flynn, Windings, Myles O’Reilly, Dani Larkin, Clare Sands, Pretty Happy and Red Sun Alert. This year, Guitarfest has added Guitartown Cinema – a roving outdoor screen that promises to evoke the spirit of pre-pandemic intimate gatherings.

The Great Beyond
September 11th & 12th
Ballinacurra House, Kinsale, Co Cork, €100

The rich and reclusive have been using Ballinacurra House as a haven for many years, and among its clients was Michael Jackson, who stayed there with his family for a few weeks in 2007. This weekend, a whole slew of music stars will descend on this idyllic spot just outside Kinsale for The Great Beyond, a new two-day festival on those very grounds where Wacko once moonwalked.

The festival is a collaboration with Cork music venue Coughlans, and the eclectic line-up over the weekend includes Lisa Hannigan, The Frank & Walters, Bell X1, Wallis Bird, Laura O’Mahony, Bernard Casey and Marc O’Reilly. Along with the fine Irish talent, the festival will showcase the best of Irish food and beverages, so you can leave those sausage rolls and tinnies at home. And don’t be surprised if one of the artists knocks out a version of Billie Jean in tribute to Ballinacurra’s famous former guest.

Irish National Opera: Least Like the Other
September 11th, September 14th-19th O'Reilly Theatre, Belvedere College, Dublin 8pm €38/€35; September 22nd, Cork Opera House 9pm €30/€27; September 25th, Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick 9pm €30/€27

We all know the story of JFK and his brothers Robert and Edward, but what became of their sister Rosemary? The story of the eldest Kennedy sibling – who was subjected to a lobotomy at the age of 23 – is a harrowing one, and Irish National Opera tackles it with characteristic gusto in this experimental production by Brian Irvine and Netia Jones.

Rosemary suffered from seizures and psychotic episodes, and her parents, Joe and Rose, worried that her increasingly erratic behaviour would damage their sons’ political careers, arranged for her to be lobotomised – with disastrous results. The frenetic pace of the music will amply reflect the mental turmoil of Rosemary’s mind as she heads for her life-changing collision with pseudo-science.

September 12th
Town Hall Theatre, Galway 3pm, 6pm & 9pm

Imagine a 3,000-year-old epic tale writ even larger by Galway’s famous Macnas theatre troupe and filmed in various locations around Ireland. The gods will be most definitely entertained. This 22-minute film is brought to the big screen by a creative team that includes playwright Marina Carr, cinematographer Colm Hogan, director Noeline Kavanagh, designers Julian Crouch and Orla Clogher, costume designer Cherie Walsh and sound designer Nick Powell.

Gilgamesh will get its premiere on Sunday, September 12th in Galway in front of a live, socially distanced audience, followed by a live in-conversation event with Kavanagh and Carr. This promises to be a culture clash of larger-than-life proportions, as Macnas put their massive twist on this Mespotamian myth, the oldest surviving work of world literature.