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MAY Roundup: Best of Irish 2020

Welcome to our new digital series The Best of Irish with St. Patrick’s Festival.

Here, we curate a collection of happenings and wonderful content for the month ahead, bringing you the ‘Best of Irish’ from Ireland and worldwide. Join us in celebrating what the Irish do best, from music, dance, theatre and storytelling, to community fundraising, tutorials, interviews and other interesting virtual things to do and enjoy. We hope you find something that interests you in our Best of Irish May roundup below.

THURSDAY, 30 APRIL - WEDNESDAY, 06 MAY - The Ark Online Stream: Far Away From Me

The Ark @ Home brings you this once-off opportunity to watch this theatre show for ages 6+ online, inspired by The Princess and the Pea and infused with the excitement of aerial performance, dance music and great storytelling. This is a free online screening of a recorded live performance and is 50mins in length.

Head over to The Ark Facebook Page to stream Far Away From Me (until 06 May).


MONDAY, 27 APRIL - SUNDAY, 02 MAY - Free Poetry Ireland eBook Download

Incredible Things Do Happen: Poetry Ireland Introductions 2019 is an anthology of poetry from Poetry Ireland. Chosen by Martina Evans, the acclaimed poet and Irish Times poetry reviewer, it features the very best of Ireland's emerging poets for 2019.

Each poet provides an insightful piece on a favourite poet or book that has influenced their own work and life, along with a pair of magnificent poems of their own.

This eBook was launched with digital readings on Monday 27 April, and can be downloaded for free from Amazon the week of Poetry Day (Monday 27 April - Friday 2 May).

Download the free eBook on Amazon here.


FRIDAY, 01 MAY - Dear Ireland by Abbey Theatre

Dear Ireland, a collection of theatrical postcards created during the COVID-19 pandemic, is the epitome of the ‘Best of Irish’. Abbey Theatre commissioned writers from Ireland, with unique additional contributions from the USA, China and Italy, to each write a monologue, to be performed by 50 actors, and then streamed on their YouTube channel.

Each writer nominated one actor to perform their piece, and the actors began self-taping their performances from social isolation.The result is a beautiful four part digital production running from Tuesday 28 April – Friday 01 May on the Abbey Theatre YouTube channel.

Watch Part 2 (April 29) on YouTube here
Wait for Part 3 (April 30) on YouTube here
Wait for Part 4 (May 01) on YouTube


FRIDAY, 01 MAY - Belfast Live presents The Lockdown Sessions with Oh Yeah Music Centre

Our friends in Belfast are kicking off the month of May with the Belfast Live x Oh Yeah Music Centre ‘Lockdown Sessions’, coming this Friday on Instagram. The platform will promote, support and highlight Northern Ireland’s music community through live performances and social media activity.

On the day, musicians will be encouraged to tweet @BelfastLive using the tag #LockdownSessions to promote their music (with a link to where fans can purchase/ stream their music and buy merch).

Hosted by BBC music presenter Rigsy, the live stream will feature: Brand New Friend, Ryan McMullan, The Florentinas, Joshua Burnside, David C Clements, Reevah, Amy Montgomery, Problem Patterns, Roe and Darkling Air.

Head over to Belfast Live’s Instagram page on Friday between 12pm - 8pm (Irish Time)


SATURDAY 02 & SUNDAY, 03 MAY - Ireland Performs

Facebook Ireland with Culture Ireland, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht have come together to support and present live presentations by Irish artists (in English or Irish) to ensure that the arts continue to be enjoyed online, with #IrelandPerforms.

The scheme was announced on Friday 3 April and has already brought some stunning work to our screens. Coming up next:

  • Caitríona O'Leary: Ansacht na nAnsacht, Love of Loves (Music)

Saturday 02 May 2020, 12:30pm (Irish Time) Facebook Live

  • Cathy Jordan: Cathy Jordan Live (Music)

Saturday 02 May 2020, 5:00pm (Irish Time) Facebook Live

  • Tebi Rex: On The Scene, Since A Scene-Kid (Music)

Saturday 02 May 2020, 9pm (Irish Time) Instagram Live

  • Niall de Búrca: Live from Ireland! (Family, Music, Storytelling)

Sunday 03 May 2020, 12:30pm (Irish Time) Facebook Live

  • Tommy Fleming: Tommy's Jeep Tunes (Music)

Sunday 03 May 2020, 6:30pm (Irish Time) Facebook Live

Looking to get involved as an artist? You have until May 05 and you can check out Culture Ireland’s guidelines to apply here.


Programme Pick: Bailte on TG4

Looking for Irish content that you can enjoy in your own time? Bailte (which is the Irish for ‘towns’) is a 13 part series on TG4 Player, which examines life in townlands all over Ireland. Through the Irish language (with English subtitles available), Síle Nic Chonaonaigh, visits stunning parts of the country such as Kerry, Cork, Donegal, Waterford and Galway.

Throughout the series, Síle explores the connection that people have with their hometowns, the influence that the landscape has on their lives, the culture that informs the locals and how job and income sources are changing in modern rural Ireland.

Stream Bailte on TG4 here.


TUESDAY, 05 to THURSDAY, 21 MAY - Courage by Other Voices

'Courage' was started with the goal of providing essential cultural output during this period with a new project that delivers uplifting, inspiring performances from brilliant artists to the public during the COVID-19 crisis.

The folks over at Other Voices promise to beam performances directly into homes across the nation, from a number of iconic locations. Performances will take place on Tuesday and Thursday nights and will be made available worldwide, free of charge, thanks to the support of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Intel and RTÉ. Coming up in May:

  • Tuesday May 05 & Thursday May 07
  • Tuesday May 12 & Thursday May 14
  • Tuesday May 19 & Thursday May 21

THROUGHOUT MAY - TV: Normal People on RTÉ

In modern, rural Ireland, Connell and Marianne, on different ends of their school’s social scene, begin an intense, secret affair. The 12-part show, directed by Lenny Abrahamson is an adaptation of Sally Rooney’s best selling novel and is set in Sligo & Dublin. You can watch the trailer here to get the vibe.

Normal People, which has had an amazing response so far, also features a fantastic soundtrack with a serious amount of Irish music making an appearance. Listen out for the likes of Alex Gough, Tebi Rex, Mount Alaska, Mango X Mathman, SOAK, Yenkee, Super Silly, Villagers, Delush / Strange Boy, Royal Yellow, The Sei and Anna Mieke.

Interested? You can catch up with the first two episodes on RTÉ Player here.

Rather just enjoy the soundtrack? All the tunes are on Spotify below:

Love a good behind-the-scenes? Tourism Ireland with Element Pictures – have created a short, BTS film using footage shot during filming for Normal People, in which director Lenny Abrahamson, producer Catherine Magee and actress Daisy Edgar-Jones (Marianne) describe and praise the special locations chosen for filming.

To view the behind-the-scenes film, click here. We will also be sharing it on our socials in May!


Know about something happening in June that deserves to be on our Best of Irish list? Submit your event/ content that will be available online in June by filling out the Best of Irish Event Submission form here.