A week of real, live events: A night at the opera, arts festivals and lots more

Online offerings include a Q&A with The Go! Team and live-stream of Cairde Sligo Arts Festival


Casta Diva – an evening with Majella Cullagh and guests 
Saturday, July 10th, 8pm, €25 plus booking feesirishnationalopera.ie/whats-on/events/casta-diva 
The pilot events are hotting up as venues and promoters dip their toes in the live music waters. James Vincent McMorrow, Christy Moore and Gavin James have already headlined pilot gigs, and now it's the turn of Cork Opera House and Irish National Opera to take the plunge into an uncertain post-Covid future.

Soprano Majella Cullagh will be joined by an array of guests – including soprano Emma Nash, mezzo-soprano Niamh O’Sullivan, tenor Gavan Ring and baritone Brendan Collins – for an evening of much-loved arias from Norma, Tosca, La traviata, La boheme, Rigoletto and more.

This is Cork Opera House’s first live event in 16 months, in collaboration with the Arts Council and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, so the excitement levels are pitched well up. Capacity is strictly limited to allow social distancing, but for those who get a ticket, a night of spellbinding musical magic is promised.

Clonmel Junction Arts Festival  
Until Sunday, July 11th, junctionfestival.com 
Something strange is going on in this seemingly ordinary Tipperary town – the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds are dissolving, and the locals are happily hopping back and forth between the two without any apparent ill effects.


This week’s live and online events include Twenty Fifty, in which actor Fionnuala Gygax plays an improvised and unrepeatable game with a guest performer, Evan Hickey (Monday 5th, 8.30pm, €15); The Estate, a comedy revolving around six couples living in the same neighbourhood, all played by one acting duo, Amy Hill and James Whelan (Wednesday 7th, 6.30pm, €10); Overlook, a sound installation telling the story of Clonmel’s Kickham Barracks (Monday 5th to Saturday 10th, 11am, free); and the We Can Be Heroes 2.0 series of gigs featuring Jerry Fish (Wednesday 7th, 9pm, €15), Gavin Glass with Vale (Thursday 8th, 8pm, €15), Mick Flannery with Ruairí de Leastar (Friday 9th, 8pm, €15) and Paul Noonan with Kate Twohig (Saturday 10th, 8pm, €15).

Cairde Sligo Arts Festival 
Until Sunday July 11th, cairdefestival.com 
Every year, the Cairde festival celebrates the unique creative energy of Ireland's northwest, and it's good to see that Covid-19 hasn't diminished the depth of imagination and breadth of talent in the locale.

Among the virtual and live highlights here are Vagabond Voices, a series of pop-up readings and performances over three days (Monday-Wednesday, 3pm, admission free with €5 donation); Writing from the West, featuring Kevin Barry, Una Mannion and Louise Kennedy, in association with Hawk’s Well Theatre (Tuesday 6th, 8pm, €15 live/€5 and €10 livestreamed); Cairde Word Short Story Competition Awards at the Model with Sinead Gleeson and Louise Kennedy (Saturday 10th, 6:00pm, free); and Colm Mac Con Iomaire with Maija Sofia at Juniper Barn (Saturday 10th, 8pm, €25 live/€10 livestreamed).

Departures by Dublin Book Festival  
Tuesday July 6th, free, dublinbookfestival.com 
Prose, poetry, music and gorgeous scenery come together in this three-part summer series of events, filmed in three different locations around Ireland. Each week beginning today, Manchán Magan is joined by an author, poet and performer for some deep-rooted conversations, readings and music, to a breathtaking backdrop of inspiring Irish landscape.

For the first event, we head to Macreddin, Co Wicklow, to spend some quality time with writer Michael Fewer, poet Jane Clarke and musician Anna Mieke. They’ll talk about how their connection with their natural surroundings provides vital inspiration for their work. Clarke will also read her poems Ballinabarney and Mullacor, while Mieke will perform two songs, with the Wicklow landscape providing visual accompaniment.

Next week (July 13th), author Mike McCormack, poet Alice Kinsella and musicians Cormac MacDiarmada of Lankum and Ruth Clinton of Landless will be in Westport, Co Mayo, and the last film (July 20th) will see author Billy O’Callaghan, poet Alice Taylor and musicians Jack O’Rourke and Aisling Fitzpatrick in Cobh, Co Cork.

The Go! Team - Online Q&A With Don Letts 
Tuesday July 6th, 7pm  
The Go! Team have been making raucous, mashed-up music for hyperactive pop kids since 2004, and if this online Q&A session is anything like their new album, Get Up Sequences Part One, then it's going to be a headspinning trip for your synapses.

The band fuse cut-and-paste sounds with old-skool beats and toy store instruments, then top it all off with punked-up guitars and drums and the agile hip-hop vocals of singer Ninja. It’s a wonder they’ll be able to keep still for long enough to just talk. Trying to put some method into all this madness will be legendary producer Don Letts, who brought punk and reggae together, and fuelled the energy of Big Audio Dynamite – so he should have no problem corralling this musical menagerie.

Swing into Summer Gala - A Fundraiser for Phil Ware 
Sunday, July 11th, 3pm €10/€20/€30, thefundforphil.com 
In June 2020, renowned Irish jazz pianist Phil Ware suffered a rare form of stroke which left him severely disabled and unable even to speak. The jazz world has rallied around this much-loved and highly respected musician, who has been a teacher, mentor and inspiration to many, and the result is this online event to raise funds to help Ware on his long road to recovery.

The emphasis is on sunny, breezy listening for a Sunday afternoon, and among those performing will be Mary Coughlan, bringing some jazz, blues and folk flavours to the occasion, and rising star Jennifer McMahon, who will add some raw, sensual emotion to the proceedings. Add in improvisations from Berri, post-rock stylings from Atsch, and literature-inspired music from Emilie Conway and you have the makings of a diverse and dynamic day of superb music.

– Kevin Courtney