The events to see, the shows to book, and the ones to catch before they end

May 18th-24th: The best movies, music, art and more coming your way this week

Event of the week


From Saturday, May 18th until Sunday, May 26th, various venues/times/prices, Galway city and county,

You had me at cello. This new international festival features more than 25 concerts across Galway city and county with more than 500 people taking part in a wide-ranging series of events that includes a cryptic cello trail on Inishbofin Island. An integral element of the festival, meanwhile (as the programme notes state), is “to increase empathy in all of us towards two burning issues of our time: climate change and migration”. Irish artists performing include Finghin Collins, Hugh Tinney, Eimear Noone and Claudia Boyle. International artists, many of whom have travelled by land and sea, include Alban Gerhardt, Daria van den Bercken, Nicolas Altstaedt and Barnabás Kelemen. Full details are on the festival website.


Love Is a Stranger

Saturday, May 18th, Juniper Barn, Ballymote, Co Sligo, noon, €110/€57.50,

From the people behind the much admired Another Love Story festival (coming your way August 23rd-25th) comes Love Is a Stranger, a compact one-day/-night countryside event featuring a mix of music acts (including Rachael Lavelle, Robert John Ardiff, Brídín, Ellie O’Neill and Graham Sweeney) and DJs (including Manchester’s Luke Una, Norway’s Skatebard and Ireland’s Donal Dineen, Lolz and Shift Shack Soundsystem). This is an over-20s event, but under-16s, who must be registered to attend, are permitted with a guardian.

Martin Carthy

Wednesday, May 22nd, Courthouse, Bangor, Co Down, 7pm, £19.50 (sold out),; Thursday, Seamus Heaney HomePlace, Bellaghy, Co Derry, 7.30pm, £15,; Friday, May 24th, Unitarian Church, Dublin, 8pm, €27,

Arriving in Ireland for three shows one day after his 83rd birthday, English folk singer-songwriter Martin Carthy wears his legacy lightly as one of the most influential folk artists of the past 60 years. Both Bob Dylan and Paul Simon owe him a significant debt, while the likes of Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and the Albion Country Band might not have had their collective pioneering sense of adventure without his pivotal guiding presence. Go see.


Thursday, May 23rd, Dolans Upstairs, Limerick, 8pm, €16.50,; Friday 24th, Mike the Pies, Listowel, Co Kerry, 8pm, €15,

Fangclub are one of Irish rock music’s casualties of the pandemic – they released their second album, Vulture Culture, in 2019, supported Metallica at Slane and then Smashing Pumpkins across Europe, and looked towards 2020 with no small optimism, but Covid harpooned their bubble. Over the past two years, however, they have been working on new material, including the recently released hard-rock nuggets Attention and Out of My Head. A new album, surely, is on the way. Also, Friday, May 31st, Coughlans, Cork; Saturday, June 1st, Whelan’s, Dublin.


Howth Trad and Folk Festival

From Friday, May 24th until Sunday, May 26th, various venues/times/prices, Howth, Co Dublin, various times/venues/prices,

The big name music acts at this well-programmed coastal festival will be performing at ticketed events in the Abbey Tavern, so across the weekend expect to see/hear the likes of Scullion, Sharon Shannon, Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin and Kíla. There are, however, loads of free gigs taking place in other venues, where the likes of Dabilla, Clumsy Maggie, Whiskey Still, Ispíní na hÉireann and the smartly named Saltaire will deliver the tunes. Full details are on the festival website.


Circle Mirror Transformation

From Friday, May 24th until Sunday, June 30th, Gate Theatre, Dublin, 7.30pm, €37.50/€27.50/€22.50,

Watching amateurs learn to act in a bare, multi-use room in a community centre is the central focus of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Barker’s 2009 work. There’s more to it, of course, and that’s because class leader Marty (Niamh Cusack) and her inclination towards pseudo-psychology, manages to warp the group dynamic in ways none of them could have guessed. Following last year’s critically acclaimed production of Fun Home, Gate Theatre artistic director Róisín McBrinn corrals Cusack, Risteárd Cooper, Imogen Doel, Hazel Doupe and Marty Rea in a work the New York Times praised as an “unheralded gem that sends people into the streets babbling and bright-eyed with the desire to spread the word”.

In conversation

David Nicholls

Monday, May 20th, Merrion Square Park, Dublin, 7pm, €20/€18,

As part of International Literary Festival Dublin, David Nicholls takes a break from writing award-winning and multimillion selling novels (including One Day, Us, Sweet Sorrow) to talk about his latest bestseller, You Are Here, his successes as a screenwriter and his deft skills at adapting classic literature (including Great Expectations, Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D’Urbervilles) for small and large screens. Throwing questions his way is Marian Keyes, herself no stranger to bestseller lists worldwide. We predict a riot of a heart-to-heart chat. (Also: Colm Tóibín will be in conversation with Belinda McKeon, Friday, May 24th, 7.30pm, €20/€18.)


Fastnet Film Festival

Wednesday-Sunday, May 22nd-26th, Schull, Co Cork,

There are no marquee presentations at the Fastnet Film Festival, but rather an abundance of short films (more than 200) and features (18) shown in venues ranging from the village bars to the local hotel. Alongside the screenings from emerging and proven filmmakers are workshops, seminars, Q&As, and masterclasses with industry experts. Check out, also, the festival’s prestige line-up of directors (including Pat Collins, Lenny Abrahamson, Emer Reynolds and Lee Cronin) and actors (including Daisy Edgar Jones, Paul Mescal, James Nesbitt, Peter Coonan, Olivia Caffrey and Stephen Rea). Full details are on the festival website.

Still running

Helen Hughes: Finding the Most Forgiving Element

Until Sunday, May 26th, Butler Gallery, Kilkenny,

“Folding, dripping, expanding and conjuring ... ” – such are some of the creative, improvised and physical processes of Mayo-born artist Helen Hughes, whose new exhibition features vivid print works, sculptures, and short films imbued with her signature colour and imagination.

Book it this week

Carlow Arts Festival, June 5th-9th,

Billie Eilish, 3Arena, Dublin, July 26th/27th,

Camille O’Sullivan, 3Olympia Theatre, Dublin, November 22nd,

Sack, Button Factory, Dublin, November 23rd,