Raw: An insatiable craving for finger food including real fingers

They are separating for the first time in their lives. “You’re watching a real intervention. Never mind the compound carnalities of Justine’s campus life, the gothic-looking veterinarian equipment and the spectacle of a horse being put to sleep ahead of a surgical procedure was, for this viewer, far more disconcerting than the menu items. “Making movies is never easy,” she says. “But, for me, the core of the film is the relationship between the sisters. I’m from the city, so when I see a horse I imagine it running in the fields with the wind in its hair. Ducornau, the daughter of two doctors, is not one for flinching. Whatever. “I didn’t realise my parents had influenced my work until very very late,” she says. “I’m not a sociologist, so I can probably only give you stupid reasons,” says the Parisian film-maker, laughing.     “Everybody wants to talk about the bodies and the cannibalism,” says the director. Clipping at the heels of Get Out, Jordan Peele’s cunning race-relations horror-satire, comes Raw, Julia Ducournau’s witty, gruesome, cannibal veterinarian horror-comedy. There’s a strange contradiction at work here: Cahiers du Cinéma named John Carpenter’s horror-sci-fi Ghosts of Mars as the fourth best film of 2000 at a time when the same film received very little love from anglophone critics, yet French state funding favours arthouse over genre. awarded by international critics, at Cannes last year. “But I think it has something to do with the general state of the world right now and the dark days that we are going through. “It requires a lot of perseverence. There was something so tragic and sad about seeing such a big beast in such a small room.” – Raw opens on April 7th When I was creating the dynamic between them, I imagined a cell that was dividing”. It’s not only a horror movie; it’s a crossover movie – something very hard to sell, especially in a culture that doesn’t make horror movies and where women directors are still a minority.”  Last September, during the film’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere, audience members fainted, paramedics were called, and at least one person was carried away of a stretcher. A sub-genre that once looked to have peaked around 1977 – the year when Eraserhead and Suspiria triggered brand new nightmares – has been steadily gaining traction since the turn of the millennium. That’s a remarkable feat …

DJ Mano le Tough: ‘Longest set I’d do? Eight or 10 hours’

Other DJs started playing my tracks and it took off.” Ascent His ascent wasn’t as meteoric as it may seem in hindsight. “I just feel compelled to, it’s not because I want to. It always seems like you’ve come from nowhere when, actually, you’ve been working your arse off for years. “There were times I just thought, God what am I doing? “Not crazy long, though,” he assures me. It’s the sort of setting that would be perfect for a torrid affair between two amorous statisticians. At such length, does it get hard to avoid repeating tracks? I was working in an Irish pub, actually a couple of different pubs, and running small parties with friends.” Was his faith in the move ever tested? “I did more than 120 gigs last year, which can be tough, but every year you get slightly better with that kind of schedule. But now, the only time I really listen to albums the whole way through is on my phone when I’m travelling.” Ideas kicking around Despite all this, he does have a few ideas kicking around for number three. It could be one of your favourite tracks of the moment and you realise afterward that in 10 hours you never thought to play it.” When he left Ireland in 2007, Niall Mannion was a budding DJ and producer with a few tracks garnering interest on MySpace. “Yeah, I try to imagine that stuff, that’s the difficulty of being an artist whose main focus is club music. Now, hopefully I’ve matured a lot. “Every Tuesday, basically,” he says laughing. I grew up listening to albums, they were the cultural currency, the touchstones. “It was fairly meagre when I first got to Berlin. It’s a place that has a pristine, toy-set kind of beauty, filled with artfully symmetrical homes looking out on to still, stately Lake Zurich. My initial hunch that he’d moved to get some peace from the maelstrom of Berlin is heartily debunked. In 2016, I made sure I had more breaks from intense periods and planned that time better. He’s also proven a familiar sight on dance music institution Boiler Room, where the combination of his height, game-face, and the skewed perspective caused by an upward-facing camera, lend him a mild resemblance to Michael Collins standing on a stepladder. In 2016, he played to an audience of around 300,000 people and he …

Raw movie review: An insatiable craving for finger food including real fingers

Including finger food. Never mind the compound carnalities of Justine’s campus life, the gothic-looking veterinarian equipment and the spectacle of a horse being put to sleep ahead of a surgical procedure was, for this viewer, far more disconcerting than the menu items. “But I think it has something to do with the general state of the world right now and the dark days that we are going through. You may be struggling with your own little problems but some day your body will say ‘f**k off’, and then you die.” Hazing torments Raw concerns a straight-edge, virginal vegetarian named Justine (Garance Marillier), who, following in the footsteps of her parents and her wilder older sister, begins her studies in veterinarian medicine with a burst of hazing torments and hedonistic parties. That’s a remarkable feat when one considers how rare it is to happen upon a French horror film.     “Everybody wants to talk about the bodies and the cannibalism,” says the director. During these cruel initiations, Justine is forced to eat rabbit kidney, an act that leaves her with an insatiable craving for meat. But we really expected to struggle way, way more to get funding than we did, because of the identity of my movie. “But work so far has featured a lot of bodies and the mutation of bodies. I’m from the city, so when I see a horse I imagine it running in the fields with the wind in its hair. Whatever. Made from real fingers. It’s not only a horror movie; it’s a crossover movie – something very hard to sell, especially in a culture that doesn’t make horror movies and where women directors are still a minority.”  Last September, during the film’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere, audience members fainted, paramedics were called, and at least one person was carried away of a stretcher. There’s a strange contradiction at work here: Cahiers du Cinéma named John Carpenter’s horror-sci-fi Ghosts of Mars as the fourth best film of 2000 at a time when the same film received very little love from anglophone critics, yet French state funding favours arthouse over genre. A sub-genre that once looked to have peaked around 1977 – the year when Eraserhead and Suspiria triggered brand new nightmares – has been steadily gaining traction since the turn of the millennium. “Making movies is never easy,” she says. And I probably imagined them …

Donal Ryan on John McGahern: ‘Amongst Women’ almost finished me. How could a book be this good?

Certainty is terminal. Go over the day that was gone, what was done or left undone, or dream of the dead days with her in June. I read Amongst Women in 1995 or 1996. “I would want no shadow to fall on her joy and deep trust in God. I think if they’d met again afterwards that McGahern would have understood. As we retraced our steps, I would pick for her the wild orchid and the windflower.” Donal Ryan’s works are The Spinning Heart, The Thing about December, A Slanting of the Sun: Stories and All We Shall Know. The obfuscatory language of politics is used daily to encourage us to swallow all sorts of unpalatable things; the closed, joyless, terminal language of rationality is used to denigrate faith in God; the language of macroeconomics is used to parse humanity into mathematical units of various values; the strident, trenchant language of dogma is used to build prisons of faith. I was mostly alone there, and I had a broken heart for a little while, and a view of swaying trees. Language can be twisted and tortured into any shape, to any end. “We would leave the lanes and I would take her by the beaten path the otter takes under the thick hedges between the lakes. There are a million words that humans use and, therefore, as good as an infinity of ways of saying any one thing. I read Amongst Women in 1995 or 1996. If the heavens split open and gave me a chance, a moment to speak to this greatest of writers, all I’d be able to say is, “Thanks, John, for the truth of your words, for the gifts you left behind.” The final words I have to give to him, as in Memoir he imagines walking again with the woman who gave him life: “If we could walk together through those summer lanes, with their banks of wild flowers that ‘cast a spell’, we probably would not be able to speak, though I would want to tell her all the local news. The hope that writers have and will follow in McGahern’s wake and push and push towards the truth of things. It almost finished me as an aspiring writer. I’ve heard writers claim they feel sickened by everything they’ve written, that they are ashamed of their sentences’ imperfections, apparent to them only in retrospect. …

Two pianists play ‘Rite’ in a rare harmonious relationship

He describes him as “a very noble soul, and never has a bad word about anyone, which is a sterling quality. It’s very difficult. The very first recording with Michael Tilson Thomas and Ralph Grierson, in the early 1970s, was done, I think, with Stravinsky’s approval.” Since then, the arrangement has taken on a life of its own, and is seen by some people as a version that, in the absence of the full gamut of orchestral colour and sonority, somehow concentrates the musical essence of the piece. The percussive attack of the piano makes it a particularly challenging medium, one in which tiny lapses of ensemble create disproportionately obvious effects. It’s not something he anticipates with pleasure. He had a residency at the Berlin Philharmonic a few years after, so we did it there. It’s like getting me into a pool. Debussy’s En blanc et noir “is among his last works, and the spirit of the war – he died in 1918 – is very much present, in more ways than one. I feel that way about many of the great masterpieces.” The touring programme features Mozart and Debussy as well as more Stravinsky. Hamelin is effusive about Andsnes as a partner. I mean, who does that?” Dense and challenging The Mozart completion that Hamelin and Andsnes play is by Paul Badura-Skoda. “And I know darn well what they expect me to answer, thirds, octaves, sixths. It’s the ability to be able to hear yourself during performance the same way the public is hearing you. The Mozart Larghetto and Allegro in E flat is an unfinished piece that Hamelin came across in the very first concert he ever went to by himself, to hear the Kontarsky brothers, in 1970. No. It sounds like it’s always existed. And that’s a very tall order.” If he has a failing in this regard, he says, “it’s that I haven’t listened enough to my recordings or performances”. We did it in each of these places. It is an arrangement Stravinsky made, primarily I think, for ballet rehearsals, and also because almost everything was transcribed for four hands at that time.” The Rite came into a world that didn’t yet know radio and when gramophones were mostly used for recordings of songs and short piano pieces. I met them. We met in a hotel in London. And it throws doubt at me. I often …

DJ Mano le Tough: `The longest set I’d routinely do? Eight or 10 hours’

At such length, does it get hard to avoid repeating tracks? “We left because my girlfriend moved back to Switzerland. I was working in an Irish pub, actually a couple of different pubs, and running small parties with friends.” Was his faith in the move ever tested? “I just feel compelled to, it’s not because I want to. But now, the only time I really listen to albums the whole way through is on my phone when I’m travelling.” Ideas kicking around Despite all this, he does have a few ideas kicking around for number three. “It can all become a distraction from the things that got you to where you are in the first place, which is making music that you believe in and delivering at every show. “Not crazy long, though,” he assures me. “Yeah, I try to imagine that stuff, that’s the difficulty of being an artist whose main focus is club music. But 2012 is when things really started to speed up, when I started doing over 100 gigs a year, and released my first album.” That album, Changing Days, was followed by 2015’s Trails. I grew up listening to albums, they were the cultural currency, the touchstones. In the last year or so, I’ve really learned to enjoy the process and not worry about what’s around the corner so much.” Mano Le Tough plays All Night Long at District 8 on Saturday, April 1st The past decade has seen him release two albums, found a record label called Maeve with fellow Irish house producer The Drifter, and put out a bevvy of tracks and remixes for the likes of Róisín Murphy and Caribou. Rakish and twinkly eyed about most things, Mano is modestly evasive on the subject of all this success, although he freely admits things were pretty different 10 years ago. “You end up thinking the opposite. “It was fairly meagre when I first got to Berlin. I like doing a ‘big record’, but that’s just not how people absorb music any more, myself included; now it’s clicking through tracks. I rushed the whole thing. “I did more than 120 gigs last year, which can be tough, but every year you get slightly better with that kind of schedule. In 2016, he played to an audience of around 300,000 people and he is a consistent presence on Resident Advisor’s prestigious Top 100 DJ poll. …

Don’t Let Go and En Vogue: the most powerful combo in music

The opening bars alone turn most people into panthers prowling the dance floor while warbling the chorus with the desperation of 1,000 exes phoning at 3.55am for a second chance. While the trio are releasing a new album Electric Cafe in the coming months, this gig will be awash with nostalgia hits. The most recent line up consists of Cindy Herron-Braggs and Terry Ellis, two of the four original members, and Rhona Bennett. Remember the days) due to poor ticket sales, but now that the 1990s revival is in full swing, this feels like the right time for their return. Your youth is having a revival. Don’t Let Go has brought them unprecedented levels of success since its release in 1996. The last time En Vogue played Ireland, the gig had to be moved from Tripod to Crawdaddy (Ah! It is a song with many lives, re-entering the Irish and UK charts in 2011 following Little Mix’s performance on The X Factor, and it has a dangerous effect on people. While NWA are responsible for curating a wave of socially aware Californian hip-hop in the early 1990s, En Vogue, mostly from Oakland, took this woke frame of mind, mixed it with rich harmonies and flooded the charts with assertive songs such as My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It), Free Your Mind and their 1993 Salt N’ Pepa collaboration Whatta Man. Dawn Robinson and Maxine Jones have left and rejoined the group numerous times, either to focus on solo work, start families or to get the hell away from the other two, since 2003. So do the opposite of what they say and let go. What you did back then is now all the rage so with that, throw your iPhone away, rummage through your old Callcard collection (is it a Tina Turner or Michael Collins kinda night?) and go see En Vogue in Dublin’s Vicar Street to celebrate this kickback. Dive into your past and tell yer ma that you’ll be getting the last Nitelink home. As one of the biggest-selling girl groups ever, En Vogue defined the sound of 1990s R&B, paving the way for the likes of TLC, Destiny’s Child and SWV and influencing music today, with Little Mix and Ariana Grande in turn taking a leaf out of their book with songs encompassing empowerment and sexuality.

Fear, bodies, cannibalism and one sad horse; welcome to the new art horror

During these cruel initiations, Justine is forced to eat rabbit kidney, an act that leaves her with an insatiable craving for meat. Move over, creepy pasta and found footage; there’s a dapper new kind of art-horror about town. Raw has gone one better, having made headlines when it picked up the Fipresci Prize. A sub-genre that once looked to have peaked around 1977 – the year when Eraserhead and Suspiria triggered brand new nightmares – has been steadily gaining traction since the turn of the millennium. There’s a strange contradiction at work here: Cahiers du Cinéma named John Carpenter’s horror-sci-fi Ghosts of Mars as the fourth best film of 2000 at a time when the same film received very little love from anglophone critics, yet French state funding favours arthouse over genre. And now it has slunk its way into a multiplex near you. That’s a remarkable feat when one considers how rare it is to happen upon a French horror film. I think something got lost in time, because before even the New Wave, we had directors like Henri-Georges Clouzot. “But work so far has featured a lot of bodies and the mutation of bodies. Including finger food. So we’ve lost that.”   French funding Ducornau and producer Jean de Forêts were pleasantly surprised when the French funding quickly came together for Raw. And I probably imagined them as worse than they actually were. “It requires a lot of perseverence. It’s not only a horror movie; it’s a crossover movie – something very hard to sell, especially in a culture that doesn’t make horror movies and where women directors are still a minority.”  Last September, during the film’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere, audience members fainted, paramedics were called, and at least one person was carried away of a stretcher. You may be struggling with your own little problems but some day your body will say ‘f**k off’, and then you die.” Hazing torments Raw concerns a straight-edge, virginal vegetarian named Justine (Garance Marillier), who, following in the footsteps of her parents and her wilder older sister, begins her studies in veterinarian medicine with a burst of hazing torments and hedonistic parties. “But, for me, the core of the film is the relationship between the sisters. Clipping at the heels of Get Out, Jordan Peele’s cunning race-relations horror-satire, comes Raw, Julia Ducournau’s witty, gruesome, cannibal veterinarian horror-comedy. I think also, …

‘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 …