Live & Online: This week’s best events, with something for everyone

From Co Laois to Clonakilty, Dublin city or your own home, take your pick from our list

Gig of the Week: Power of Words Festival
August 20th-22nd, Abbeyleix, Co Laois
When word came out that Electric Picnic had been refused a licence to host 70,000 fans in Stradbally, the wordsmiths up the road in Abbeyleix were quick to reassure folk that their festival will easily accommodate 70,000 – words, that is – and that an electric time was guaranteed for all. The Power of Words festival may not have any restrictions on word count, but the events planned for the weekend will all be limited capacity and Covid compliant, so if you're mad for words, come and join the party.

Among the writers due to take part in talks, panels workshops and readings are poet and novelist Niamh Boyce, whose bestselling debut novel The Herbalist was nominated for an Impac award; poet and literary critic Arthur Broomfield; animator and illustrator David Butler, whose credits include the Bafta-winning Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Andrea Carter, barrister and author of the bestselling Inishowen Mysteries series; and short story writer Pauline Clooney, whose debut novel, Charlotte and Arthur, will be published in October.

Luka Bloom
August 18th, DeBarras, Clonakilty, Co Cork, 7.30pm, €20-€80
In February 2020, Luka Bloom, Steve Cooney, Robbie Harris and Jon O'Connell went into Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, set up their gear, and began to jam on some songs Bloom had written over the previous couple of years. They hadn't rehearsed much, but that didn't stop the magic from happening, and the resulting album, Bittersweet Crimson, was completed just as Covid began to shut down the live music scene.

Now, as things are slowly reopening, Bloom can finally perform some of the plaintive songs from that album, along with favourites from his long and rewarding career. Tickets for this latest outdoor show at De Barras will be sold in pods of four and two, but even though the audience will be socially distanced, Bloom’s warm, reassuring tones will bring everyone closer together.


August 18th-21st, Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, 7.30pm, €20
History is never truly accurate – it's often built on hearsay, rumours and downright lies. And then it gets rewritten and revised until the real events become lost in time. So, what happens when a bunch of madcap improvisers wrap their comedy chops around a historical tale, and bend and twist it until it bears no resemblance to the original story? Histrionix is a "sort of improvised history" show in which truth – and your sides – are the first casualty.

The idea is simple: a historian relates a little-known historical tale, while a cast of improv comedians re-enact the tale even though they have no idea what the story is about. If all goes to plan, you will be totally confused as to what actually happened, and you’ll be so busy laughing you won’t care. To celebrate the return of live performance, Histrionix will feature stories of great returns and homecomings, but beware: once you go down this historical rabbit-hole, there’s no coming back.

Swimming a Long Way Together: Swimposium
August 21st, Dublin Bay, 8am-8pm, €20
Bring your swimming togs for this day-long event across Dublin Bay, all about the joy and spiritual rejuvenation to be had from taking a dip in the sea. Artist and long-distance swimmer Vanessa Daws has combined both talents to create art that explores the idea of place through the act of swimming, using film, sound, drawings, sculpture and live events.

One of her great inspirations is swimming pioneer Mercedes Gleitze, who took on many swimming challenges in the 1920s and ‘30s, including becoming the first British woman to swim the English Channel. The Swimposium is designed to be both recreational, restorative and informative, bringing you on a journey across Dublin Bay.

Don’t worry – you won’t have to swim across the bay. The day begins with an early morning sea swim and breakfast at Sandycove Beach at 9am, followed by a walk to Moran Park in Dun Laoghaire for presentations and panel discussion introduced by Temple Bar Gallery + Studios director Cliodhna Shaffrey. After lunch and another sea swim, a bus will whisk you to Clontarf Baths for another panel discussion before moving on to Bull Island for an evening meal and an outdoor musical performance of As Easy Stop the Sea, written by Ruth Clinton and performed by Landless. You’ll be brought back to the starting point by 8pm, feeling positively reinvigorated and rejuvenated.

Meadows Festival
August 20th-22nd, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, €19.10
The beautiful grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art is the setting for this series of six socially distanced musical events taking place over three days, and featuring a fascinating and diverse line-up of contemporary acts and emerging talent.

We may be a long way from packing in the punters in a big moshpit just yet, but we can gather safely in pods of four or six in a well spaced-out setting and enjoy live music from David Keenan and Niamh Regan (Friday 4pm), Just Mustard and John Francis Flynn (Friday, 7.30pm), Saint Sister and CMat (Saturday, 4pm) and A Lazarus Soul and Lisa O’Neill (Saturday, 7.30pm). On Sunday, it’s the turn of Glasshouse Ensemble, who will perform the music of Kate Bush and David Bowie (4pm) and Prince and Joni Mitchell (7.30pm).

Fiestaval Street Arts, Comedy & Music Festival
August 21st & 22nd, Railway Union Sports Club, Dublin 4
Shows daily at 10.30am, 2pm & 5.30pm, Admission free but pre-registration essential
Make tracks for the Railway Union Sports Club in Sandymount, which will be transformed into a carnival of sorts over the weekend, featuring everything from circus performers to stand-up comedians to Afro-soul and ska bands. There are two family-friendly shows each day at 10.30am and 2pm, with an over-18s show each evening at 5.30pm.

Alas, the event is sold out, and as there is limited capacity due to Covid restrictions, no walk-ups will be permitted. For those lucky enough to have registered, they’re in for a fun mix of music, circus performance and hilarious comedy with the likes of magician and sword-swallower Jack Wise, limbo troupe Hakuna Matata Acrobats, Yankari Afrobeat Collective and Totally Wired, Ireland’s oldest, least successful and funniest boyband.