Deirdre Kinahan: “People ask ‘How do you feel about being on the main stage?’ I say bring it on.” Photograph: Shane Cowley

In 2018, a diversity of Irish women’s voices will take their place on the national stage

 The Weaver by Quian Shi is a story about a spider called Stanley and his quest to weave a web he can call home

Sara Keating selects the best new books for children

Children enjoying performances at the  Wide Eyes arts festival, hosted by Baboró, in Galway. Photograph: Anita Murphy

Wide Eyes Festival brings performing arts into the hearts of the very young

Fourth class pupils at St Clare’s Primary School in Harold’s Cross, Dublin, with Arts Council director Orlaith McBride and writer Siobhán Parkinson. The Writers in Schools programme recently celebrated its 40th birthday. Photograph:  Andres Poveda

An education scheme is helping children see writers as living, breathing people rather than mythical beats

Mark O’Rowe: 'You remember that making theatre is less about precision than bringing something to life.' Photograph: Alan Betson

Mark O’Rowe’s latest play ‘The Approach’ was triggered by three women in his head

Frida Nilsson’s “The Ice Sea Pirates” is set on a series of imaginary islands in the Arctic. Its heroine is 10-year-old Siri, a storyteller supreme. Photograph: Cory Glencross/iStock/Getty

Frida Nilsson’s great Arctic tale unfolds packed ice and inky skies

In this story - based on the autobiography of Maria von Trapp - the family escapes across the mountains.

Irish stars Lucy O’Byrne and Celine Byrne shine in the iconic story

Here’s our first look reviews at the early season shows

Photograph: IStock

From the moral to the humorous, there’s plenty of seasonal books to choose from

A round-up of events for families and children during the festive season

We Travel So Far

These books for children of all ages are beautifully illustrated and touch on a number of issues

‘Harry Potter: A World of Magic’ is a lavishly illustrated coffee-table book

A new British Museum exhibit places Rowling’s fiction beside the cultural traditions that inspired it

From ‘The Worms that Saved the World’ by Kevin Doyle and Spark Deeley

There are no parents in ‘The Wonderling’, a stand-out debut by Mira Bartok

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina receive representatives of Poetry Ireland to mark its 40th anniversary and Children’s Books Ireland to mark its 20th anniversary, with from left; Theo Dorgan, Siobhan Parkinson and PJ Lynch at Áras an Uachtaráin.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sara Keating asks five debut authors appearing at this weekend’s 20th anniversary event five questions about their work

‘Through the Gate’ by Sally Fawsett tells a story that any child who has experienced change will be able to relate to

Sara Keating picks her favourites for children and young adults

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls  aims to counter  gender bias by providing 100 female role models  in a series of short bedtime tales

What does it do girls’ ambition if they they are reduced to silent ciphers or pretty princesses? Several new books for young reade(...)

‘There’s a Walrus in My Bed’ by Ciara Flood looks at many toddlers’ fear of sleeping alone

One new title is an instant classic from two giants of the genre

Patrick and the President (Walker Books, £12.99) is a collaboration between the current Laureate na nÓg, PJ Lynch, and broadcaster Ryan Tubridy. It tells the story of John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963 through the eyes of a young boy, Patrick.

A collaboration between PJ Lynch and Ryan Tubridy serves up JFK’s visit with Swiss roll

Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore: Lotte Tickner, Jude Owusu and Fionn Gill in Gary Owen’s play. Photograph: Helen Murray

Children are interested in the same ideas as adults, the director of ‘Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore’ says. You just have to pre(...)

A local library in Lampedusa saw firsthand how wordless books opened up an opportunity for refugees to share worlds and experiences with each other

An initiative to help refugee children on the Italian island of Lampedusa is now a touring exhibition in Ireland

Dawn O’Porter: the accessibility of her writing style will cement The Cows’ popularity. Photograph: Jenny Sharif

Dawn O’Porter’s novel about feminism in the age of social media will appeal to millennials

 Derbhle Crotty: capturing her character’s rich history. Photograph: Bryan Meade

Derbhle Crotty and Denis Conway reach deep for this portrait of middle-aged despair

Owen Roe finds something close to charm in the brutal character of Nicolas. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Harold Pinter’s vicious play is all about the oppressors. How can cruelty and civility sit so comfortably together?

Sit and ponder: stone bench at Coole. Photograph: Ron Rosenstock

Image enhances wordplay in two revamped classics and a multilingual haiku meditation

Children’s writer and illustrator Judith Kerr: “Everything I have done in my work is autobiographical in one way or another. Taking ideas from cats I’ve known, or my childhood, or something I came up with to entertain my children.”

Judith Kerr, creator of the The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Mog picture-books, also wrote about escaping from the Nazi regime

“It was women who had the power”: Susie Lamb in Horae: Fragments of a Sacred History of Prostitution

Susie Lamb’s show ‘Horae’ asks whether an ancient tradition can be comprehensible to a 21st-century crowd

John MacKenna: His “writing has an unshowy humility despite the potentially epic reach of the stories”. Photograph: Piotr Kwasnik

Disciples of a martyred leader hold fast to ‘fairytales and bullshit’ in John MacKenna’s stories

Khan alternates the astronauts’ present predicament with flashbacks to their lives in Europia, a futuristic self-styled utopia

Katie Khan’s debut novel charts plight of lovers cast adrift in space from utopian home

Lisa Carey: draws on Irish folklore and mythology to explore the extremity of human behaviour

An eerie tale set on a fictional Irish island casts a spell that never loosens its grip

  Kevin Barry recommended “iBird Cloud”, the 2011 memoir by American novelist Annie Proulx, on Alexi. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Alexi app invites well-known authors and critics to choose favourite digital books

Big The Musical at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre  in Dublin

A huge encore and digital momentum add colour and noise but children might struggle to see anything fun about being an adult in th(...)

Lisa Dwan: physically lithe and emotionally supple as the doomed, unhappy heroine

A fresh adaptation by Marina Carr offers an ensemble piece rather than a star vehicle and is all the better for it

Clodagh Mooney Duggan in The Snow Queen at Smock Alley Theatre. Photograph: Ste Murray

From panto to ice skating and from circuses to concerts, here is your guide to the best children’s entertainment this winter

A Christmas Carol at the Ark. Photograph:  Ros Kavanagh

The invention at the heart of this show makes it an excellent way to introduce the spookiest of seasonal stories

The Gaiety delivers top-notch performances and production standards in a show that’s not afraid to take risks

Aladdin (Tom Moran) with Dame Lola (Liam Butler) and Wishee (Colin Hughes) in  Aladdin at the Helix Theatre, Dublin

Disney’s lawyers might want to challenge TheatreWorx to a dance off to settle their scores

Supporters of the Waking The Feminists campaign on the Rosie Hackett bridge in Dublin on Monday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

To mark first anniversary of Waking The Feminists, Gender equality campaigners add 10 points to debate

“The provision of art, music and literature for young audiences has grown enormously.” Aideen Howard, director of the Ark.  Photograph: Alan Betson

The Dublin centre has been providing arts for children for more than 20 years

The final public event after a full year of campaigning by Waking the Feminists took place on the Rosie Hackett bridge, in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Waking the Feminists slate theatre organisations for below-par gender equality record

You know plenty, Jon Snow: Kit Harington in HBO’s “Game of Thrones”.

‘A Game of Thrones: Enhanced Ebook’, ‘The Hobbit (Enhanced Edition)’, ‘Eoin Doherty and the Fixers’

Mark Smith as King Lear in ‘Reason in Madness’. Photograph: Vincent Lillis

Adaptation of Shakespeare has 17 cast members who have an intellectual disability

 Cecelia Ahern: Lyrebird will do nothing to convince literary snobs that popular fiction is worth greater attention, but it does showcase the genre at its best. Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images

Cecelia Ahern’s fans will expect the development of an unlikely love affair and a happy ending; they will also get a study of a ra(...)

Sarah J Maas: “There is a lot less literary snobbery now”

Sarah J Maas secured a publishing deal in 2008 and has published eight novels since

The cast of The Commitments. Photograph: Johan Persson

The tremendous ensemble cannot be faulted but the abundant musical numbers overpower the thin storyline

Johannes and Margarethe

Hansel and Gretel as adults and a boy who befriends a stone are among the highlights of the children’s strand at this year’s Dubli(...)

Barry McGovern in Samuel Beckett’s First Love which is being performed in the O’Reilly Theatre as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. Photograph: Patrick Redmond

Mesmerising performance but something hesitant in Barry McGovern’s delivery

Nell Zink: her new novel is an important, funny book with a pretty sharp moral and social message at its heart

Nell Zink uses brilliant satire to take potshots at all sides in her third novel

Margaret Atwood: her novel Hag-Seed is a modern prose version of The Tempest. “It was absolutely my first choice. It has a magician. It has fairies. Can it even be done?”   Photograph: Liam Sharp

Whether tackling Shakespeare, writing poetry or creating a graphic novel, the Canadian author lets her social conscience shine thr(...)

 PJ Gallagher in the “anti-theatrical” Alien Documentary, part of Dublin Theatre Festival

PJ Gallagher leads a likeable trio of men who build things and talk their way around football, fishing and extraterrestrial life

Jessica Thom, right, and her assistant, Jess Mabel Jones

Jessica Thom turns the ‘crazy language-generating machine’ that is Tourette’s to her advantage

Swan Lake Loch na hEala, as part of Dublin Theatre Festival. Photograph: Colm Hogan

Dublin Theatre Festival: Mikel Murfi takes multiple roles in Michael Keegan Dolan majestic retelling of the classic story-ballet

Although Collins is joined at times by his charming son, Johnny, most of the performance is stilted and static  Photograph: Al Craig

Dublin Theatre Festival: a powerful, necessary and moving moment of social testimony that doesn’t quite work as a piece of theatre

John Olohan as Himself and Bríd Ní Neachtain as Maisie in ‘The Remains of Maisie Duggan’ by Carmel Winters, directed by Ellen McDougall at the  Abbey Theatre as part of Dublin Theatre Festival. Photograph: Ros Kavanagh

Dublin Theatre Festival: corpse comes back to life revealing the explosive dynamic of a strange and violent family

Theatre Lovett’s The Feast of Bones. “Production values and costs shouldn’t decrease in line with your audiences’ height.”

How do we capitalise on the innovative performances for young audiences? We asked the experts for their wishlist

Oliver Jeffers: “This idea of the stoic man; generations being indoctrinated into the idea that not communicating is a good thing.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The artist's latest picture book is about the way the fantasy worlds of children’s books create the fabric of the grown-up mind. H(...)

Clare Dunne and Karl Queensborough in rehearsals for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Directed by Sean Holmes and Stef O’Driscoll at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival

In the hands of Filter Theatre, live music and comedy shake up Shakespeare’s classic

Vickey Curtis, Finem Respice

Three Irish comedians create their own versions of Harry Potter; Vickey Curtis tells a raw and painful story

Paddy “The Shovel” Kennedy (Gerry Carney) tells Billy Salmon (Tommy Marren) of his bad news from his doctor in Paddy, a musical drama on irish emigration. Photograph: Michael Donnelly

Emigrant’s tale is a well put-together, solidly performed, nostalgic show without irony

Meticulously composed cabaret: RIOT, at the Spiegeltent until September 25th

RIOT - Can a great night out also count as a political act?

Jean Rhys: used her evening strolls as inspiration for the emotional landscape of her Paris novels

‘Flâneuse: Women Walk the City’; ‘An Abbreviated Life’; ‘The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir’

Empathy is like a tanning bed: This Beach, at the Project Arts Centre

The opening weekend of the Fringe festival bursts into life with disturbing future visions and exhilarating burlesque

The Beach, an original play by Brokenstalkers, is about the refugee crisis – from the point of view of the haves rather than the have-nots

In two productions, the maverick theatre group tackle big ideas about national identity, ‘which is really based on the idea that s(...)

A scene from Collapsing Horse’s version of Virgil’s epic ‘The Aeneid’

The innovative group’s latest show is a version of Virgil’s epic ‘The Aeneid’

As the Tiger Dublin Fringe festival prepares for this month’s event, a dozen of the artists taking part give the low-down on their(...)

Roisin O’Neill, Lucia Kelly and Emer Feeney in Hodges Figgis book store with their copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which went on sale at midnight on Saturday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Latest Potter instalment should be read for what it is: a play and not a novel

Women at the workshop at Fringe Lab, Temple Bar.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Tara Derrington’s response to Waking the Feminists was to create a platform for mothers who are also artists

Rialto women came together for Natural History of Hope at Project in Dublin. Photograph: Ray Hegarty

Natural History of Hope, a play shaped by first-person testimonies about gender inequality in Rialto, provides a welcome alternati(...)

From left, Liam Burke, PJ Brady, Angela Harding, Sheila Flitton and Michael Judd at the Irish Theatre Institute, Dublin. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne

The Prime project helps older actors to get on top of cyber auditions and to get ahead in a notoriously ageist industry

 David Rooney, artist and illustrator, in his studio in Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

A ‘mobile’ tour of historical places in Dublin brings the Easter Rising to life

Maloney’s Dream: nothings is lost in translation

A bilingual show for children aged eight and over brings to life the events of Easter week with clarity and humour

Paul Mallon and Charlotte McCurry in Northern Star. Photograph: Keith Dixon

Rough Magic’s production of Stewart Parker’s play about the 1798 rebellion enriches the self-consciousness of the dramatic style

Book-gifting encourages parents to read to and with their children, and affords children the opportunity to have books in their ho(...)

Censorship and the dictionary are the inspirations for interactive text-based games

Don Wycherley, Ronan Leahy and Gavin Fullam in Inside the GPO by Colin Murphy, in a production by Fishamble in partnership with Fáilte Ireland. Photograph: Dan O’Neill

Two site-specific plays around Moore Street and the GPO are among the most daring of the Rising centenary productions

Author Roddy Doyle. Photograph: Mark Stedman/Photocall

The author has transported ‘Don Giovanni’ to Dublin for the Opera Theatre Company

Production shot from ‘Into the Blue’. Photograph: Neil Harrison

Belfast theatre group has devised new ways of opening access for excluded kids

Reif Larsen’s Entrances and Exits  is a novella told through textual narrative and Google Street View

A new e-publishing company does not see material and digital forms as being in competition with each other but as two distinct, if(...)

“The key issue for me was why people [joined the revolution]? How were young working-class men and women, just ordinary people, radicalised?” Playwright Deirdre Kinahan pictured in Dublin Castle. Photograph: Bryan Meade

The playwright’s new production Wild Sky eschews the grand Dublin narrative for a rural perspective on 1916

Another year, another new year’s resolution, but it’s no sacrifice to keep this one

Unfinished business: speakers on stage at the Theatre of Change Symposium at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin (from left) Gideon Levy, Gabriel Gbadamosi, Mark O’Halloran, Mary McAuliffe, Jaki Irvine, Nuala Hayes, Penny Arcade, Fiach MacConghail, Sarah Jane Scaife, Zoe Lafferty, Lian Bell, Dominic Campbell, Dr Emer O’Toole, Dr Susan Cahill and Fearghus O’Conchuir. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Tackling malevolent cupcakes, mutant lesbians and “the man problem” at the Abbey

Reviews: The Wagner Files; Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg; The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

Hannah Moscovitch: “It can be hard for young women to visualise themselves as playwrights”

Hannah Moscovitch, whose play East of Berlin examines the Holocaust’s legacy and is coming to Dublin, is not against gender quotas

The Henry Girls. Photograph: Ros Kavanagh

The Henry Girls’ concert for children has – refreshingly – barely a mention of Christmas

Photograph: Cyril Byrne

A great first outing to the theatre for children who might be overwhelmed by larger pantomimes

Monkeyshine Theatre draws inspiration from Nordic mythology

The Snow Queen: my favourite version is illustrated by Harry Clarke, right. The glorious art nouveau illustrations are a brilliant introduction to his work, which can be seen in churches all over the country. I am also fond of PJ Lynch’s more realistic illustrations of the tale, left

In December, I read nothing but winter- and Christmas-themed books with my children, which I take down from the attic on December (...)

Zizi Strallen as the eponymous nanny in Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s lavish new production of Mary Poppins

Rather than staying close to Disney's 1964 musical, Julian Fellowes' adaptation goes back to PL Travers' books. The result is a Ma(...)

 Richard Dawkins: “Stories are fun, but to claim a supernatural explanation of something is not to explain it at all.” Photograph: Alan Betson

New titles from Sophie Sabbage, Chris Kyle, Jim Dwyer and Richard Dawkins

Cathy Belton in a 1998 production of Eclipsed

There is a long list of women who wrote important plays for Irish stages but whose works have all but disappeared. They deserve a (...)

Social media enables activists to reach audiences as never before, as the #WakingTheFeminists campaign knows. It’s all part of tel(...)

Oisín Robbins

The play uses a physical language to communicate with a young audience

Waking the Feminists meeting hears call for equal advancement of women artists

Where are the women?: Queen Maeve in the woodcut that WB Yeats commissioned from Elinor Monsell for what became the Abbey Theatre. Photograph courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

The National Theatre’s maddeningly male 1916 centenary season highlights the difficulties that face women who work in Irish theatr(...)

New titles from Rachel Abbott, Angela Currie, Fat Roland and Thijs de Boer reviewed

Senator Fiach Mac Conghail, director of the Abbey Theatre, during the launch of the theatre’s controversial 2016 programme. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Fiach Mac Conghail says reaction sparked ‘a professional and personal crisis’

Patrick Ness: “Chaos Walking” series ran over six books, and won major awards, including the prestigious Guardian Children’s Book Prize. Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images

Patrick Ness fell into writing young adult fiction by accident, but he’s had huge success in a genre that’s barely a decade old

Smashing Times Theatre Company, which has been working in process-led educational theatre for almost 20 years

Drama in education aims to give students the tools to express themselves and imagine alternative worlds, but formal exposure to it(...)

Illustration by PJ Lynch from his book The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland’s Good Fortune

Illustrator PJ Lynch was never interested in writing – until he stumbled across the story of a servant who fell from the Mayflower(...)

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