Twenty-one things to do this May bank holiday weekend

There is a ton of stuff going on across the country over the next few days

We’re almost afraid to say it out loud, for fear of putting a hex on it, but it looks like the weather could be good for this May bank holiday weekend. There’s a ton of stuff going on, so get out and enjoy it while it lasts.

Here’s a selective selection of some select stuff . . . in no particular order.

Bantry Redfest                                                                                                    Bantry, Co Cork
If you didn't manage to book tickets to Ed Sheeran – who is performing at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork this weekend – you might fancy pursuing some other, less famous redheads at Bantry Redfest. Apparently, only 0.6 per cent of the world's population are blessed with red hair.

Gingers and everyone else are invited to celebrate the rarest hair colour in the world at the festival, which is also known as An Slua Rua.


The weekend’s activities include an outdoor cinema, food village, children’s entertainment, céilí, fashion shows and competitions.

To Face: A Scientific Exploration of Emoji 
Science Gallery, TCD, May 5th and 6th from 1pm

Those emojis are more than just silliness. Who’d have thunk? Every day, billions of emojis are sent between phones and other devices, making them the fastest growing communication tool in history.

But what’s the significance of a face crying with laughter, a pair of clapping hands, or a smiling pile of poo? What’s driving their popularity, and are they changing our perceptions or behaviours?

The public can engage with research on the phenomenon over the weekend at the Science Gallery, with experiments co-ordinated by emoji research consultant Keith Broni and Maynooth University neuroscientist Richard Roche, who says: "While emojis may seem like a frivolous aspect of modern communication, closer scrutiny reveals they may have an important role in such important areas as behavioural nudging, emotion regulation (eg in ASD or similar conditions), language and even brain computer interfaces (BCI)."

25th Half-Door Club International Music and Set Dance Festival  Castletown, Co Laois, May 4th-7th

One of the highlights of the set-dancing calendar, this four-day festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

The Castletown weekend includes five céilithe and three workshops, plus local trad sessions every day. Pat Murphy hosts set-dancing workshops, there's sean nós with Ger Butler, and old style steps with Annette Collins and Mark Prescott.

The céilí bands include Brian Ború Céilí Band, the 10-piece Shandrum Céilí Band, and Swallow’s Tail. Great craic, with long days and late nights and tons of new sets for beginners to learn.

Galway Theatre Festival
Galway, May 4th-May 12th

This young, developing festival reaches its 10th birthday this year. Director Máiréad Ní Chróinín's theme – What is Your Heart Made Of? – asks audiences to think about what nourishes the heart and spirit. The theme pulls in a variety of works, from dramas based on personal journeys to epic tales –14 productions and seven works in development in total.

The eclectic and stimulating mix includes: Galway-based new writing champions Fregoli Theatre's production of Robert Higgins's The Streets Are Ours, which is about a turbulent night for a group of aimless midlands twentysomethings; electro-folksters My Fellow Sponges merging gig and theatre with a "live music video" called Fuzzy Air; Morgan Creative reimagining The Little Prince for children; Turas Theatre Collective's free, outdoor show Remnants, which draws on Clowns Without Borders's work in refugee camps; Gúna Nua's The Morning After the Life Before, a post-marriage equality referendum comic tale; interactive game-theatre in Sarah Hoover's Two Truths; Rabbit's Riot's One Of The Lads putting toxic masculinity to the test, and Caitríona Ní Chonaola shining a light on coeliac disease in Glutened.

A Life of Play
Project Arts Centre, Cube and Meeting House Square, Dublin, May 4th-6th.
Free, tickets in pairs,

Grandchildren are encouraged to bring grandparents to A Life of Play, a Bealtaine production by CoisCéim Dance Theatre.

A Life of Play is a creative dance and play project for children aged five to 10 and their older family members aged 50+. Move to music, dress up and explore in a playground of the imagination – a place of mischievous, magical invention.

Pair up and join Emma O'Kane for Friday and Saturday's events at 4pm at the Project Arts Centre, Temple Bar, Dublin. On Sunday, everyone plays outdoors in Meeting House Square at 2pm.

Wear rubber-soled shoes and comfortable clothes.

May the Fourth Festival 
Co Kerry,

You can't accuse us of not making the most of the Star Wars connection. The cultural phenomenon that has swept up Skellig Michael (creating, among other things, a Star Wars Lego set of the rock) now spawns the first May the Fourth Festival. Hop in your X-Wing fighter and fly south towards Kerry, the organisers urge, for a range of events in Ballyferriter, Portmagee, Ballinskelligs, Valentia Island and beyond.

Events include screenings of Star Wars: The Last Jedi against the backdrop of actual film locations, behind-the-scenes exhibitions, coastal cruises, Skellig trips to beehive huts, guided film location walks, puffin workshops (the movie’s porgs were inspired by the local birds), and a fancy dress céilí. Drop into the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre while you’re at it.

Baltic Day
Temple Bar, Dublin, May 7th.
Enjoy traditional Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian crafts, foods, folk song and dance in national costumes at a family day in Meeting House Square, Temple Bar Square and East Essex Street. Organised by Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian embassies in Ireland, along with diaspora organisations, groups from all over Ireland and Europe are travelling to Dublin to take part in the Baltic Day celebrations, which includes a foods and crafts market, performances by folk dance groups and traditional music choirs. This year's event marks 100 years since Estonia and Latvia were founded and Lithuania reinstated its independent state.

Chorus of Dissent and the Elastic Band                                                              St Nicholas' Collegiate Church, Galway, May 5th, 6pm, free
This wonderfully-titled London-based community choir and professional orchestra sounds like great fun, and they're performing music "from Vivaldi to Amy Winehouse and back again" in a beautiful medieval parish church in Galway city.

Conductor and arranger Ruth Whitehead describes the event as "a short, informal and eclectic concert of music by, for and about women, which includes some lovely English music. We wouldn't presume to perform Irish music in this centre of excellence of Irish musical traditions – we will, however, go as far as singing an English folk song arranged by an Irish composer."

One of the singers in the London choir, Melanie Rogan, comes from Galway and suggested they perform there. Bring the family – suitable for all ages 9+.

Riverfest Limerick
May 4th-7th from 10am,
Riverfest turns 14 this weekend. Highlights at this year's event include Riverfest on the Shannon, Bell X1, King Kong Company, Fashion Friday, the Bons Secours Great Limerick Run, and a fireworks display. Riverside fun for all ages, and most of it is free.

All across Ireland, May.
Check out Bealtaine Festival events in your area. The celebration of arts and creativity as we age runs all across Ireland for the whole month, and this weekend a spin-off debuts in Dublin's Temple Bar.

Bealtaine @ Temple Bar sees a bunch of events in the cultural quarter over the bank holiday weekend, with free and ticketed events, and family-friendly shows focusing on the innovation contributed by older generations.

Outdoor events in Meeting House Square include a catwalk down memory lane in Ageless Style – The Way We Wore, looking at women’s style from the 1840s to the present.

The festival will also see street performances, pop-up choirs and operas, art exhibitions, jazz events, walking tours, talks, movies, Irish language events, and an intergenerational sculpture workshop.

A Bealtaine favourite, the Dawn Chorus, has a staging at 6am on Dublin's Grattan Bridge on May 6th. The all-female Rockmount choir, based in Blackrock, Co Dublin, are also singing as part of a sort of late dawn chorus – at 1-2pm! – at the Metals near the People's Park, Dún Laoghaire, on the same day.

Alliance Française Comic Book Festival
Alliance Française, Kildare Street, Dublin, free (booking required).
For little (and big) people who love comics, this festival features events on the art of illustration and comics, including live readings, exhibitions, a children's workshop and a pop-up book fair.

What Have The Pythons Ever Done For Us?
Light House, Dublin,
The Light House's Monty Python season is in full swing and this weekend the Smithfield cinema shows audiences some of the greatest examples of the silliest minds in the history of comedy, in screenings of A Fish Called Wanda and Time Bandits.

Woolapalooza Farm Festival
irfield, Dundrum, Co Dublin, May 6th-May 7th, 9.30am-5pm, €10/€5.

The prize for best bank holiday weekend festival name possibly goes to Woolapalooza at Airfield in Dublin. It’s a suburban farm festival on this sprawling 38-acre site with events for the whole family: thrilling sheepdog trials, sheep-shearing, live music and dancing at the Woolapalooza Céilí. Plus craft sessions, bakery demonstrations, a giant knitting bee, yarn bombing and barbecue food. Ewe won’t want to miss it. (Wince.)

An Audience with Shay Given, John Aldridge and Paul McGrath
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, May 7th.
Irish soccer fans can enjoy three legends of the Republic of Ireland senior men's team in conversation. The plan is for a chat offering insight into their careers, from their former clubs to representing Ireland, and reflections on the current season, with personal views on the teams, players and the upcoming World Cup. Audience participation and a Q&A are also on the cards. VIP packages – including a signed book, the signing of two items of your own and a photo – are €100 plus fees.

Bantry Country Roads Festival
Bantry, Co Cork.
Big Tom may be at the junction of four roads in the sky, but Irish country fans can still enjoy a weekend in beautiful Bantry, where the Westlodge Hotel is hosting the Bantry Country Roads Festival. Performers include TR Dallas, Declan Nerney, Patrick Feeney, Patrick O'Sullivan, Cliona Hagan and the Two Mikes, and the festival also includes a food village, a pop-up restaurant and mobile bar, and family entertainment. Park your motor home in the hotel grounds for the weekend and enjoy the late night honky-tonk DJ.

Dublin Dance Festival
Dublin, May 2nd-20th.

This weekend's highlights include Akram Khan's Giselle from English National Ballet at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, with a cast of 40 dancers under artistic director Tamara Rojo and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. The show, which was nominated for an Olivier Award, draws on both contemporary dance and ancient Indian Kathak.

Also this weekend is Catedral, from flamenco star Patricia Guerrero, who, along with three musicians, two opera singers, and other dancers, creates an atmospheric world of phantoms, light and shadow.

Peppa Pig's Adventure
Olympia Theatre, Dublin, May 5th, 10am, 1pm and 4pm, €25 plus fees.
Oink alert. You only think you hate Peppa Pig, and however you feel about her, she's treading the boards in Dublin this weekend. Peppa's adventure sees her preparing for an exciting camping trip to the woods with George and her school friends – yes, Pedro Pony, Suzy Sheep and Gerald Giraffe. (Hide. Or maybe stay outside in the sun instead.)

Women's National Gaelic Football League final
Parnell Park, Dublin, May 6th,
A league final with two of the best teams over the past few years. Dublin vs Mayo kicks off at 4pm, with Mayo out for revenge after Dublin beat them in the All-Ireland senior football final last September.

Drogheda Arts Festival
Drogheda, Co Louth, May 1st-7th.
The first festival of summer, they call it, and it's in full flow already, with theatre, music, tours, literature and spoken word, visual art, and family activities.

Some highlights include Love/Hate star John Connors in conversation with the BBC's Marie-Louise Muir; theatre that focuses on local stories in The Star of Chester's Lane and The Immortals; dinner theatre with Catastrophe's A Midsummer Night's Murder in An Grianán, and Songtrail, a walking tour of Drogheda's musical heritage.

JestFest Comedy Festival
More manageable than the granddaddy of Irish comedy festivals in Kilkenny in June, the growing JestFest offers comedy gigs over the weekend in intimate venues all across Wexford. Performers include Foil Arms and Hog, Deirdre O'Kane, Dermot Whelan, and Neil Delamere.

Pro14 semi-final qualifiers                                                                                     Thomond Park, Limerick
The Pro14 rugby semi-final qualifiers see Munster and Edinburgh face each other. Favourites on their homeground, Munster will be hoping for a win so they can go on to play Leinster in the semi-finals.