‘I laughed out loud at Mrs Brown’s chat show. In The Irish Times. Near where Fintan sits’

RuPaul and Brendan O’Carroll have a lot in common. Drag Race, now on its ninth season, features an array of seasoned drag performers competing for RuPaul’s love (much as Mrs Brown’s “boys” compete for hers) and it’s a delightful blend of craftiness, performance art, gay history, melodrama, racial diversity and good old-fashioned sass. Bow down bitches. She occasionally looks beyond the camera where she can see a large congregation of people judging her (the studio audience). Pamela Anderson and Brendan O’Carroll in All Round to Mrs Brown’s. Mrs Brown answers questions submitted from the audience about menopausal dryness, coping with voyeuristic dogs and how to urinate in a bush (Mrs Brown helpfully demonstrates the latter). Well, I’m here to tell you there is a middle way. Anyway, back in Mrs Brown’s “house”, Mrs Brown commits comedy elder abuse (spraying water on the clearly clinically depressed Grandad Brown) and entertains appropriately named chef Chef Aly by dancing with him to Boombastic in a sexy fashion. In the world of Mrs Brown, Cathy Brown has some sort of internet chat show that she films in her mother’s sitting room, which is embedded in the audience-filled set of a BBC studio in Glasgow, a city on the third planet in a solar system, on the spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy, which can be found floating amid other galaxies in the godless cosmic voi… Judy Murray is persuaded to fire a tennis ball at a contraption that drops a balloon of water on top of sleeping Grandad. This is, RTÉ viewers know, a metaphor for the Irish condition, but they laugh nonetheless. “You’ve had buttocks on your face haven’t you?” Mrs Brown asks Rory. Like most things in life, it’s best not to think about it too much. In fact, I laughed out loud several times while watching this programme, right here in The Irish Times offices, near where Fintan O’Toole sits. Inverted Freudian nightmare Cathy, Mrs Brown’s daughter, is played by the real-life Brendan O’Carroll’s wife, Jennifer Gibney. Anyway, by now you are either laughing uncontrollably just picturing the shenanigans I’ve described – tears rolling down your face, gibbering like a loon, probably pissing yourself – or you’re wondering where the opera column has gone, jabbing your pipe angrily in the air like a Protestant while shaking your tweedy head at what has become of this once-fine institution (The Irish Times, …

George Michael’s funeral held in London

British singer George Michael was buried in London on Wednesday in a private funeral, some three months after his death on Christmas Day, his publicist said. Born in London in 1963 as Georgios Kyriacos Panayiatou, son of a Greek Cypriot father and an English mother, Michael became one of the best-selling British recording artists of all time. Several cars with blacked-out windows apparently drove attendees to and from the ceremony in Highgate Cemetery in north London, Reuters reporters said. During his career with Wham! British media reported that Michael’s mother is buried at the cemetery. “George Michael’s family would like to thank his fans across the world for their many messages of love and support.” Earlier this month, a coroner said the singer had died of natural causes. “Family and close friends gathered for the small, private ceremony to say goodbye to their beloved son, brother and friend,” a statement from the singer’s publicist said, without confirming the venue. The coroner said there was no need for further inquiries into Michael’s death at the age of 53. Reuters ESB Feis Ceoil: Wednesday’s results Tigran Mansurian – Requiem album review: Genocide’s delicate balancing act Music Cork – bringing music’s international top brass together for a chat He had sold more than 115 million records worldwide by the time of his death. The outside gates of Highgate Cemetery were covered to restrict the view of the private ceremony. and as a solo singer, his hits included Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Last Christmas, Careless Whisper and Faith.

Historic cultural quarter for Dublin’s Moore Street endorsed

Last June the Government decided to appeal the ruling following advice from the Attorney General. Plans to develop a historic cultural quarter on Dublin’s Moore Street and surrounding lanes have been endorsed by the Minister for Arts and Heritage – even though the State is appealing a court order protecting Moore Street as a 1916 “battlefield site”. However, in that same month Ms Humphreys established a Moore Street Consultative Group, which included political representatives, relatives and market traders, to make recommendations for the future of the street. Area of battle Their report, which was submitted to the Minister on Wednesday recommends the development of the “battlefield area” as part of a historic cultural quarter. A department spokeswoman said the High Court judgment had given rise to concerns for the “Minister’s own department with regard to the operation of the National Monuments Acts, and for other departments and official bodies in relation to public and social infrastructure provision. In March 2016, the High Court’s Mr Justice Max Barrett ordered the protection of nearly all of the buildings on the east side of Moore Street, as well as the laneways leading to it. This would include the retention of historical structures and the “line and form of the block” from 10-25 Moore Street; the pedestrianisation of the street and surrounding lanes; the upgrading of the market trade facilities and a review of the trading byelaws; and the restoration of historic buildings, including the National Monuments buildings at number 14-17 Moore Street. Colm Moore, a nominee of the 1916 Relatives Association, took the case against the Minister, Heather Humphreys, to extend national monument status to all Moore Street buildings linked to the Rising. The judge declared the buildings a 1916 Rising battlefield site that collectively constitute a national monument. The report says the developers have “advised that they are prepared to consider alternative options”. “The judgments have accordingly been appealed and the appeals are being progressed in the courts”. She said she would recommend to Government the establishment of a new advisory group to advance the recommendations of the report. These were due to be levelled as part of the Dublin Central Shopping Centre development. A spokesman for the developers said: “ We continue to consider a range of options for the regeneration of this uniquely positioned site.” Breathe new life Ms Humphreys said the report “can help find a way to breathe …

Dave Chappelle: Obeying the laws of comedy

Can basic drives override loftier principles every time? On Ray Rice, the disgraced football player recorded punching his wife in an elevator, Chappelle marvels: “She shouldn’t have rushed him.” Of one awed encounter with OJ Simpson, with a much tighter command of irony, he tells his appalled white colleague: “Sharon, with all due respect, that murderer ran for over 11,000 yards.” At such moments – and there are many – the laws of comedy are easily invoked. Here he routinely refers to middle age (he is 43), speaks longingly of a simpler past, and dwells on assorted imagined threats to his masculinity. Can he overlook ethnic profiling so long as his fame protects him? And so he comes off like the aggressor’s jester, an apologist for abusers. Late in the first of two comedy specials (The Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas, Netflix, now streaming), a very lucrative return to “levity and livelihood” for Dave Chappelle, following 13 years in the self-imposed wilderness, the American stand-up interrupts a stream of incongruously light-hearted gags about the staggering number of Bill Cosby’s alleged rape victims to recall a moment of rebuttal. A comedy venue is protected space for the profane and unpalatable (even on streaming television). It would be easy to write Chappelle off, then, as an unlikely conservative, railing against the discomforts of change. Impish, enjoyably self-aggrandising and deeply nostalgic, Chappelle works a practiced line on race, gender, sexuality, family, money, weed and trouble with law enforcement; in short, the frantic tapestry of modern America. A comedian does not necessarily mean what he says. 3. “I’ll be honest,” the black comedian says of his white heckler, “race was involved.” How could it not be? Moreover, Chappelle’s material, like his outlook, thrives on cognitive dissonance. 2. Can horrendous people still be remembered for great achievements? 1. “You are a fu*king asshole for saying these things,” implored one woman, stridently enough to make Chappelle feel bad, but not persuasive enough to make him reconsider. But it is worth noting that, at one point, he speaks witheringly and witlessly about the Ps and Qs of engaging with a trans person: “Is it fair that I have to change up my whole pronoun game for this muthafucka?!” Just a year later, while pining for his childhood hero Bruce Jenner – now Caitlyn – Chappelle’s pronoun game has indeed unfussily adapted. Neither …

ESB Feis Ceoil: Wednesday’s results

Boys vocal solo treble: 1st Mark Wilson; 2nd Elliot Kelly. Highly commended: Kevin Neville. Very highly commended: Kelli-Ann Masterson. Very highly commended, Niall Kehoe, Nicholas O’Neill. Dorothy Stokes Cup: 1st Kevin Jansson; 2nd Jane Brazil. Very highly commended: Stephen Ryan. Commended: Amy Kieran, Michael Carey. German Government Cup: 1st Lorna Breen. Very highly commended: Rowel Friers, Tiffany Qiu. Competitions are continuing at the ESB Feis Ceoil in Dublin. Highly commended: Daniel Whelan. Highly commended: Myn Fitzpatrick, Winifred Massey. Paul Deegan Cup: 1st Tadgh Snodgrass. Boys vocal solo: 1st Quincy Tilles; 2nd Alexander Smith.

Brexit: ‘Hands off Donegal and give us our six counties back’

Anyone who thought that taking over the three remaining counties of Ulster would be a difficult feat should have had a word with the Guardian layout folks first. Thanks to Article 50 being invoked, Britain may finally be stepping into the unknown today, but if you’re in Newry and didn’t vote for Brexit, you needn’t be overly alarmed. Well, that’s according to today’s Guardian’s front page at any rate. Those Guardian designers even managed to shrug off the Eastern EU member states and snaffle a bit of northern France too, the scamps. It’s an inspired cover ; one destined to become an iconic image. As Article 50 is triggered, Britain is losing the plot Headmaster bans ‘brutal, banal’ Irish books from UK school’s library A Northern Ireland-shaped jigsaw piece doesn’t exist; not yet, at any rate. Meanwhile, Dundalk, Donegal, Wicklow, Cavan and Arklow have all, according to this image at least, suddenly become Brexit casualties. Smaller jigsaw pieces might have left us with more of the country, but really, something was always going to give. But we’re playing fast and loose with geography here. I get it. The Guardian’s front page – parts of Ireland included in jigsaw map of UK after Brexit Kudos for the clever idea folks, but you have made an absolute hames of the place. With their map made of jigsaw pieces, the Guardian’s designers, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to leave Newry, south Tyrone and a small sliver of south Co Down as part of the EU. Down in Greystones, the Happy Pear lads would need to start taking sterling for their quinoa cassoulets and raw cacao thingies (will this make them any cheaper, I wonder?). Free dental work and doctor’s appointments an hour’s drive up the road?  I suppose that could work. Wold Dundalk FC still be allowed in the League of Ireland’s Premier Division, or would they have to endure a pummelling from Arsenal instead? Gaelic football finals with the Donegal team in them are tense enough without bringing Brexit into it. There’d be an import tax on Football Special and Donegal Catch, for a start. Wee Daniel O’D might need an EU work permit to play the INEC. Would that become Brexit Britain’s bounty now? And what about the public money spent on jazzing up the Wild Atlantic Way? Seriously though, could you only imagine a scenario in which Donegal, or …

Famine fiction and a surfeit of facts

What I think the diaries encompass is what literature strives to achieve, an absolute immersion into the psyche of lives revealed, so what one experiences in looking up from the page in the aftershock of the descriptions is a broader political register, an indictment that springs within the heart of the reader who then seeks a great understanding of the time. It was a novel that took me to the reaches of the Brendan Voyage and the secret whaling grounds of the Portuguese, to a convergence of first encounters between natives and Europeans. I will know a history, but not know it in the way I know the more immediate circumstances of my own life, my own journey. I see the nuns in their Sisyphean resolve, pushing the boulder of human souls heavenward The intimacy of the diaries allowed me access to a deeper, more penetrating story, the novitiates’ isolated retreat under dark at day’s end from the fever shed, those pariahs of martyrdom who were forced to: “venture to only the least inhabited areas, and there ridding themselves of their habits and of the vermin attached to them, and communicating only minimally with the other sisters hurried themselves to the altar to receive the Eucharist that gave them their strength and consolation”. The stories of sacrifice in the diaries are legion, among them that of 20-year-old novice Sister Limoges, who, clothed in her holy habit and representing a life more angelic than human, faltered and died in the attendance of Fr Patrick Morgan, who also succumbed between two moribund patients while hearing their confession. It makes me wonder what life might be like on Mars! What I did was rob from the living in the quiet observance of those lives I’ve infiltrated. In the trawl of the literature of the time, I came upon Jonathan Swift, who faced this same burden, a heightened political sense of the times that distanced him from the plight of those who suffered. I see him as a great Cu Chulainn figure in the fearful death throes of a heroic life. But above all, we should reprobate specific remedies for ravaging diseases.” The question emerged, as it had before for me – how does one pit the complexities of a broader historical understanding of the time against the day-to-day existence of those who suffered, endured and died? The sheer emotional complexity of the diaries …

Mrs Brown and RuPaul is the crossover that we all need right now

A lost Mrs Brown’s Boy? In fact, I laughed out loud several times while watching this programme, right here in The Irish Times offices, near where Fintan O’Toole sits. Brendan O’Carroll is a legitimately funny man who knows how to spin a joke. and so on and so on. By this stage they’re all gathered in the pub which, if I’ve learned anything from Lost, will turn out to be purgatory in the last episode (RTÉ audiences recognise that all Irish pubs are basically purgatory). The first episode of the new series features gobbledegook-prone pop aristocrat Lady Gaga as well as a drag genius who dresses like a BDSM Mini Mouse and goes by the name Nina Bonina Banana Fofana Osama Bin Laden Brown. Bow down bitches. The interviews aren’t exactly probing, but, on the plus side, if anyone were to say the word “probing”, Mrs Brown would certainly get a lot of mileage out of it. The show begins, in Beckettian fashion, with Agnes Brown, the feminine yin to Brendan O’Carroll’s yang, sitting alone in a kitchen yapping profanely to herself. Anyway, back in Mrs Brown’s “house”, Mrs Brown commits comedy elder abuse (spraying water on the clearly clinically depressed Grandad Brown) and entertains appropriately named chef Chef Aly by dancing with him to Boombastic in a sexy fashion. This is an inverted Freudian nightmare. Seriously, Ken Loach should do an episode in which social services get involved. One woman, who we learn once put deep heat on her haemorrhoids, is declared Mammy of the Week. Well, I’m here to tell you there is a middle way. James Blunt turns up and kisses Mrs Brown passionately and Mrs Brown dances to Boombastic again. They both came from the theatrical fringes (punky drag shows and regional comedy respectively), both enjoy filthy entendres whatever the quantity (single, double) and both managed to penetrate the mainstream (ooh matron!). Drag Race, now on its ninth season, features an array of seasoned drag performers competing for RuPaul’s love (much as Mrs Brown’s “boys” compete for hers) and it’s a delightful blend of craftiness, performance art, gay history, melodrama, racial diversity and good old-fashioned sass. This is, RTÉ viewers know, a metaphor for the Irish condition, but they laugh nonetheless. She makes conversation with members of the studio audience whom she singles out for their mammy-like qualities. The jokes are funnier if you understand this …

Music Cork – bringing music’s international top brass together for a chat

“They’re successful in their own right. If you do it long enough, that’s likely to happen.” Having been involved in the organisation of the Night Summit at the Web Summit in Dublin and Lisbon, Dunne says the Irish reputation for chats is key to Music Cork. If they want to go on a trip to see a band, they’ll go on a trip to see a band. “If you’re an manager and have an artist who writes really good songs and publishing is where they’re going to go, how good with it up be get to chat to Mike Smith?” For the panels themselves, Dunne promises that they are “going to throw a few grenades” by putting agents and promoters on the same panel. “You don’t want all your eggs in one basket. A lot of the great interactions happen in person between the delegates and our job is to make that as easy as possible.” – For more, see musiccork.com “We have a Whatsapp group between us where we can ask – who manages this band? We really want to focus on that networking element of Music Cork. I can find out very quickly if I’m offering too much for an act for Indiependence for example and that’s just promoters. Organisers Shane Dunne (Indiependence), Willie Ryan (music lawyer and previous How Music Works interviewee), Jim Lawless (manager with The Coronas also a previous HMW interviewee ), Alexis Vokos (Delphi Label) and Ger Kiely (Cypress Avenue) would often find themselves hanging out together at international music industry events such as Eurosonic, The Great Escape, and SXSW and thought they could do something back home. “They’re expecting to see signable talent,” suggests Dunne of the visiting industry expectations. “A lot of these guys, you can’t pay them to come,” says Dunne. When did they last do a support slot? Dunne was keen to think beyond his festival Indiependence, which he has run for 11 years and is likely to sell out again this year. “We do lots of things well, but one thing we do really well is the Irish pub, and moreso than the music history and the culture we have here, there’s a great history of talking informally over a pint.” Eyes on the scene Taking that idea into its programming, Music Cork aims to draw in an international industry with their eyes already on Ireland’s music scene – …

Eimear McBride shortlisted for £10,000 RSL Encore Award

The winner will be announced on April 5th. McBride’s debut A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, Desmond Elliott Prize, Goldsmiths Prize and Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award. “I thought I had misspent my youth by squandering countless hours listening to records and poring over the music press, but in retrospect I can see that I was actually researching Hit Factories,” Whitney said. Highlights include a tribute to Molly Keane. Writers and Critics will feature critics and novelists Eileen Battersby and Eibhear Walshe. There will also be a link-up with the Connemara Environmental Conference. Previous Irish winners of the award, first presented in 1990, are MJ Hyland for Carry Me Down (2007); Anne Enright for What Are You Like? There is a strong international dimension, with Slovenian writer Ales Steger, Turkish writer Ciler Ilhan, Florian Wacker (Germany) and Flavia Company (Argentina); The Stolen Child author Lisa Carey from the US. (2001); Timothy O’Grady for I Could Read the Sky (1998); and Colm Tóibín for The Heather Blazing (1993). The week includes photography workshops from award-winning Washington Post photojournalist Bill O’Leary, yoga, archaeological walks, music, and pub life. Her daughter Sally Phipps, author of Molly Keane: A Life, will be joined by her sister Virginia Brownlow and life-long fan Thomas McCarthy at the opening event. Anne Sebba, biographer, lecturer, journalist and author of Les Parisiennes, discusses women in France with Dr Mary Noonan of UCC. The last day of the festival, which is also Unesco World Book Day, concludes with a trip to Molly’s home in Ardmore. www.triskelartscentre.ie Weidenfeld & Nicolson is to publish Karl Whitney’s Hit Factories: A Journey Through the Industrial Cities of British Pop in 2019. “Pop music is such an intrinsic part of people’s everyday lives, and often so specific to a place and a time – I’m interested in examining that place and that time. All events are free and all are warmly welcome. Cork City Libraries and Triskel Arts Centre stage the 13th Cork World Book Festival from April 18th to 23rd. His first book, Hidden City: Adventures and Explorations in Dublin, a non-fiction exploration of his home city, was published by Penguin and was a Guardian book of the week. Whitney, who has written about popular music and literature for The Irish Times and other major publications, tells the vibrant story of how the sound …

Mrs Brown and Ru Paul is the crossover that we all need right now

The show begins, in Beckettian fashion, with Agnes Brown, the feminine yin to Brendan O’Carroll’s yang, sitting alone in a kitchen yapping profanely to herself. “You’ve had buttocks on your face haven’t you?” Mrs Brown asks Rory. This is, RTÉ viewers know, a metaphor for the Irish condition, but they laugh nonetheless. I have to say, conscious that I might be kicked out of the Dublin 4 media elite for this, I laughed out loud. and so on and so on. A lost Mrs Brown’s Boy? They both came from the theatrical fringes (punky drag shows and regional comedy respectively), both enjoy filthy entendres whatever the quantity (single, double) and both managed to penetrate the mainstream (ooh matron!). This is an inverted Freudian nightmare. Seriously, Ken Loach should do an episode in which social services get involved. Anyway, by now you are either laughing uncontrollably just picturing the shenanigans I’ve described – tears rolling down your face, gibbering like a loon, probably pissing yourself – or you’re wondering where the opera column has gone, jabbing your pipe angrily in the air like a Protestant while shaking your tweedy head at what has become of this once-fine institution (The Irish Times, not whatever institution they’ve put you in). So we get the show within a show bit in which Cathy interviews Judy Murray, stern-faced matriarch of winning racketeers Jamie and Andy (“Do you ever buckin’ smile?” asks Mrs Brown), and Pamela Anderson, who is escorted into the room by a Mrs Brown’s boy wearing a blonde wig and a red swim suit. You can love and hate All Round to Mrs Brown’s at the same time. In the world of Mrs Brown, Cathy Brown has some sort of internet chat show that she films in her mother’s sitting room, which is embedded in the audience-filled set of a BBC studio in Glasgow, a city on the third planet in a solar system, on the spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy, which can be found floating amid other galaxies in the godless cosmic voi… Drag racy Of course, my favourite foul-mouthed funny man in a dress is RuPaul, progenitor of RuPaul’s Drag Race (Netflix, new episodes weekly). Judy Murray is persuaded to fire a tennis ball at a contraption that drops a balloon of water on top of sleeping Grandad. By this stage they’re all gathered in the pub which, if …

Hennessy Literary Awards 2017 First Fiction winner: I Could Have Been a Dancer, by Sean Tanner

I’m forever giving up the fags too, but what the fuck do I care after four cans, I’m chuffing them down like an episode of Friends. He looks over his shoulder and shoots me a wink. One does not dance like Michael Jackson at a school disco. You forgive everyone.” And though I say the words, I still hate myself, because I am broken somewhere in my heart, and the words are just words in the end. I bare my teeth at her. In the darkness behind my lids, I can see the smirk on my teacher’s face. I was a wonderful dancer. She probably thinks he’s a benefit sponge who’s never worked a day in his life. Fucking crawling with invisible rats, riddled with mistakes every morning. Their eyes are like mine, bloodshot and heavy, framed with dark circles. I just want to kill my past. I swallow down a jolt of heartburn. If I had to work more and drive less, I doubt I could cope. I could have been a real person, a person of consequence. Always a smile, and a how are you, and how bout we have a bit of banter while I make your breakfast roll. I’ll need a lash of sugary tea before I can even think about touching it. Then I drive back. Jerking, shifting, sharp movements. People beep at me. I salute them and bare my teeth. Then I get cold and close them again. I drink deep, sucking it down like it’s oxygen, or forgiveness, or a second chance. “Cheer up, it might not happen.” I force out a weak chuckle. I squint up my face and swallow back down my stomach acid. Why can’t I just get shit-faced and not regret anything? This is his first published work. Up and down, too hot and too cold. I turn off the engine, and I sit for a while in the silence of the van, letting my thoughts vibrate in the stillness. I’m pushing my eyeballs into my skull with my fingers when she chirps up, “Lovely morning for it, Paddy.” Oh Christ, woman, I’m not able. This smiling, and talking, and pretending not to hurt all time. She’s one of these morning people, you know? So I just sort of copied the kind of bouncy shuffle that everyone else was doing. I used to dance to Michael Jackson with my …

Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year: the winning story

He had a flat on Raglan Road. They were not intimidated by women with money and status. I fear for his bohemian soul. An indicator of time having passed, choices set in stone and regret. Of course this wasn’t a story for the book club. I offered no judgement and become in essence her confidante. They had arguments over politics and the cultural significance of the GAA which she found refreshing and they’d go to the Lighthouse Cinema in the afternoons when she was supposed to be at meetings. The painting. I didn’t see her for many years until she turned up in one of the big houses around the corner from my two-roomed cottage. We were sitting on the distressed oak chairs, which perched on the lime-washed floor, beside the dresser, with the pictures of her children, husband and the dog. She was bored though she didn’t fully yet know the extent. She’s never been interested in art, even in school it was always drama and public speaking, never art. She is happy, I think, though the restlessness is there, the box opened. I am with the gang but not one of them. A partner by 32, with two children under three and a three-storey red-brick. There seemed, for a time, nothing left to surprise us with. As we were about to leave she asked me about school. I was tempted to share my philosophy for living, that there is a good chance that in the quest for a better life, you will miss the life you have. I didn’t ask her why the Caravaggio. Always alone, except for some ghosts and a rendezvous with your fate. The sense of it hung around her. He had heard about the painting and felt that he had to see it, that day in a summer storm. She writes me sometimes. It is only when their husbands end up clustered around her at the end of a dinner party do they realise the allure of controlled restlessness. All she would say is “he inhabits me”. It would have been less amusing. I didn’t tell. Someone finally found a key for the back door and we regrouped next door. She was walking back to the office on a Wednesday afternoon in August, when the sky opened. We spoke of school. I too find it mesmerising, though draw different conclusions, that at the peak …

Hennessy Literary Awards 2017 Emerging Poetry winner: Crouched Burial by Una Mannion

Also in 2015, she won second place in Dromineer Literary Festival for flash fiction, was one of the four shortlisted writers in the Listowel Writers Week Originals Short Stories and was shortlisted in the Fish Memoir Competition and Bridport among others. You are lying on your side knees pulled into your chest the thin bones of your arms holding yourself without your hands your heavy head bent low toward your small body, a comma in the earth, like an ultra sound picture of the earth’s womb where you lay crouched for years. Someone brought you here and laid you down with care your death a secret, your story buried. You are eighteen months old. But not you. Perhaps touching your cold cheek your mother could not abandon your body to the night and here, where the land juts out toward the sea and the tide moves, a place she might find again, she brought you. Una Mannion is a lecturer in Performing Arts at IT Sligo. Now is our turn on the surface of time you and your buried bead, prehistory, before there were written words to remember with. Beside your ribcage, a single blue glass bead for your ear a bronze ring, your grave gifts. She is a member of the Sandy Field Writers’ Group based in County Sligo and is currently enroled in the Writing MA at NUI Galway. Your bones in the midden are a mystery Iron Age people didn’t bury their dead bodies were left to wind, or wolves or water. They move the earth with small trowels and brushes and all week the seals sing a desolate chorus as if for you. First a small child’s foot slow sweeps of the brush across your small bones, your shape in the ditch, taking definition, a slow birth in the corner of the field by the water’s edge. A sequence of milk teeth along the bone of your jaw and the buds to permanent ones spell your age. ‘Crouched Burial’ won the Yeats’ Society’s Seamus Heaney Memorial Poetry Prize 2015 judged by Paula Meehan. In the moon bay at the edge of earth where they found you the midden’s shelves layer time, like growth rings. If flowers and herbs cradled your head, they are dust now. She is currently on the fiction shortlist for Cuirt (2016)

Headmaster bans ‘brutal, banal’ Irish books from UK school’s library

While in that room, parents and teachers alike could rest assured that the books we found there were age-appropriate but also mind-expanding. Maybe teachers who hold these views need to talk to their students, ask what it is about Robert Muchamore (of the Cherub and Henderson Boys series) and Zoe Sugg (Girl Online) that they enjoy. The books which are popular are such because there is pleasure in them, there is hope in them and there is something that the readers cannot find elsewhere. That is one of the beauties of reading for pleasure at any age – it can be self-directed. School libraries are a haven for many children. I found that world in many books, the vast majority of which are now banned in this school. No one could argue that this was a bad thing, that having a group of teenagers sitting quietly together in a world of information was detrimental to our development, personal or academic. In the years I have worked as a bookseller I have seen the same scene played out again and again. There are a huge number of children whose only chance to pick a book for themselves is from the school library and so this is a dangerous belief to put out into the world Some might argue that these children can just go home and read what they want in their own time. Lorraine Levis is a children’s bookseller/buyer for Dubray Books and a YA and KidLit commentator We got to see the worth of the books we studied and then when we left that classroom we were free to read what we liked and were encouraged to do so. There are a huge number of children whose only chance to pick a book for themselves is from the school library and so this is a dangerous belief to put out into the world. The headmaster announced that authors such as Eoin Colfer and Derek Landy were “so simplistic, brutal or banal” that children should not be exposed to them on school grounds So when I heard a prominent fee-paying school in Britain was planning to cut some of the most popular middle-grade fiction from their library, I was outraged. They are forced to read in school. Not to mention that other schools in less privileged areas may follow. They may find that it is because they are relatable and engaging. …

Nymphs, shepherds and monsters in a rural Irish bar

ADVERTISEMENT The singing mostly matches the spirit of the music-making from the pit. It’s a real pleasure to be able to encounter him at the same venue at the ICO’s modest regular ticket prices. In that sense, Levit is an extremely high-resolution player, able to move well beyond normal curvatures of phrasing, and control of dynamic shading. But the idea is as much international as Irish. The details that seem so freshly discovered also sound persuasively natural. Vampire seduction Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre was the setting for Thursday’s première of Siobhán Cleary’s new chamber opera Vampirella. Director Tom Creed and designers Paul O’Mahony (sets) and Catherine Fay (costumes) have taken Handel’s pastoral world of nymphs, shepherds and monsters and moved it into a rural Irish bar. Cleary’s score seemed to me at its best when adding electronic sounds that transcended the limitations of the on-stage ensemble. The libretto, based on a story by Angela Carter, is by Katy Hayes. Acis and Galatea is a work that simply brims with Handelian favourites, and Whelan gauges their moods and colours with consistent elan. “There will be no Action on the stage,” says a 1732 advertisement by Handel, “but the Scene will represent, in a Picturesque Manner, a rural Prospect, with Rocks, Groves, Fountains and Grotto’s [sic]; amongst which will be disposed a Chorus of Nymphs and Shepherds, Habits, and every other Decoration suited to the Subject.” Opera Theatre Company’s artistic director Fergus Sheil sees his company’s new production of the work, which opened at the National Opera House in Wexford on Saturday, as “a uniquely Irish take”. Mulhall and Fairbairn are a well-matched pair of lovers, and Grint an imposing villain. Handel’s Acis and Galatea is a masque rather than an opera proper. But my impression on the first night was less of an opera than of a theatre piece with singing and incidental music, the result perhaps of a text so strong that it sometimes seemed to have no need of music at all. The production tours until Thursday, April 13th, see opera.ie for details. The standout performance was Eimear McCarthy Luddy’s Mrs Beane, which came across with a kind of electric presence. When Polyphemus finds Galatea together with her beloved Acis (tenor Eamonn Mulhall), he kills Acis with something large enough to be called a “massy ruin”. The production, directed by Conor Hanratty and with designs by Maree Kearns, was …

‘Of course, corruption is not good. But people are complex’

Similarly, Graduation took cues from two news stories: one concerning bystander effect when a woman was attacked at a bus stop in Bucharest, and another report about a father contacting teachers to get the highest grade for his daughter. No. I don’t use violins as there is no music in real life. It was completely unlikely that such a group came from Romania.” Do the new-wave practitioners know one another? Since the mid-aughts, the Romanian new wave has dominated the festival circuit. “I tackle things that are happening to the people next to me. I watched films from the Czech new wave, American cinema of the late ‘60s and ‘70s and Lucian Pintilie’s The Re-enactment many times ADVERTISEMENT I’m very close to Corneliu Porumboiu but this is because life brought us together; we have children at the school. “It’s a very small community; industry is a huge word for it. “I was always interested in cinema. To say that Romanian cinema punches above its weight would be an understatement bordering on the bigly. “We simply don’t have the theatres. Especially for the actors who have to stay truthful and precise for the length of the take.” He laughs: “Are there cuts in life? So I spend my mornings talking to him about cinema.” Mungui’s remarkable body of work has attracted international audiences, yet he remains a frustrated talent at home, where there are too few independent and arthouse cinemas. But at the same time people are complex. “It’s very difficult to be critical or judgemental of people in this situation. Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr Lazarescu, a gallows comedy about catastrophic gaps in the healthcare system, took the Un Certain Regard prize from Cannes in 2005. I don’t want to wave at you to point where you should look. I’m not concerned with the big corruption in society, it’s about how the individual is shaped by society. you have to undergo every small miserable moment there’s no way out.”   Graduation opens March 31st On the evolution of his style. I never move the camera unless we are following something in particular. “It’s more a name for something completely unexpected. But can you do it in one? Thus, her father must engage in quiet words and back-slapping to give his daughter a second chance. “I used the facts but reshaped them,” says the 48-year-old. So I have an individual …

As Article 50 is triggered, Britain is losing the plot

That’s how I’m writing it, anyway. I don’t think the people who voted Leave are bad people. So, may I come to the serious point of my piece? You find yourself putting your own personal anger into sentiments such as: Sir, it matters little if you have warm feelings in your heart when you vote to poison the lake. This was the decisive promise of the Brexit campaigners, who used an empty word to prey on a hollow fear of foreigners. I didn’t plan it that way. Also, it turns out that their promises change faster than a human can type. By the time we actually depart, we’ll be running Brexit 2.1 on Windows Millennium Edition. But the problem with the straight inner narrative of a Brexiter is that it reads as unreliable – at least to anyone who has been quietly writing down the previous promises as they are forgotten one-by-one. The Brexiters insisted that the threats to our wellbeing and prosperity lay outside our borders. It seems animated by loathing rather than logic. The most up-to-date version of the Brexit guarantee, according to this week’s spin, is that it will deliver the same terms with Europe that we currently enjoy. Thomas Harris did not need to expend one word explaining why it’s bad to eat a man’s face without using cutlery. For the first time in my lifetime, a terrorist attack on the capital revealed the nation’s divisions rather than its unity. As a British novelist, I’ve tried them all and I can I tell you why I canned my first six attempts. These channels will be useful again, one day. And if we’re lucky then the UK will hang together too, and we won’t set Ireland on fire. It doesn’t matter if they use WhatsApp encryption or not. I accept that my country simply doesn’t include me anymore. But the problem with this treatment is that it’s so boringly obvious. I don’t go on protest marches against the referendum result – and it’s not because I’m lazy or uninterested. That’s 160,000 brutal, violent, criminal killings so far this century, versus fewer than a thousand deaths from terrorism. My family is Anglo-French and my work is done in a dozen European countries. So today we celebrate demolishing our house, on the pledge that it will be rebuilt, by builders still unknown and unfunded, more-or-less as it was before. …