Banter at Sound of Belfast (092, Nov 2014)

One of the most enjoyably contentious and rumbustious Banters of the last year happened when we went to Belfast Music Week to talk about the city’s musical creativity and nostalgia for the past. It started in one place, took a big twist and then ended up somewhere else entirely, as all these discussions should.

We’re heading back to the city on November 15 for the Sound Of Belfast festival. Events during the week-long event include a solo show from Tim Wheeler, the Northern Ireland Music Prize 2014Therapy? performing “Troublegum”, the Van Morrison trail, Mireia Bordonada’s Ulster Punks: Rebels With A Cause photo exhibition and a clatter of other performances, exhibitions, talks, panels and gatherings. You’ll find the full programme here.

Oh Yeah music centre interior

Oh Yeah music centre interior by Seán Rickard

On this occasion, we’ll be talking to a bunch of artists about the stuff they never talk about and are never asked about. Come along to hear what Hornby (Continuous Battle Of OrderThe Big List), Shannon O’Neill (Sister Ghost), Paul Currie (Rhinos) andTom Harte (Trucker Diablo) make of the state of the musical nation and the stories of the day.

Banter at Sound of Belfast takes place at the Oh Yeah Music Centre on Saturday November 15 at 2pm. Admission is free.

Meet the Commish (091, Nov 2014)

Did you know that Dublin now has a commissioner for start ups? Her name is Niamh Bushnell and her gig is to sell the city as the place to be to start, develop and grow tech and innovative businesses.

Dublin's new commissioner for start-ups Niamh Bushnell

Dublin’s new commissioner for start-ups Niamh Bushnell

So, how she’s going to do this? What exactly does Dublin have to offer domestic and foreign start ups that they won’t get anywhere else? Is it all about tax and jobs and allowing Enda and the suits press shiny buttons and make big announcements? What’s the real effect on the city’s rep as a start up hub of gatherings like the Web Summit? Has the Commish got pots of cash to offer the would-bes, newbies and tyros?

Join us for the very first Banter Uptown at the lovely MVP pub (29 Upper Clanbrassil Street) on Tuesday November 4 as we hear from the commissioner about her plans and aims. Doors open 6pm, the Bantering starts at 6.30pm, admission is free and you can book tickets here.

We’ll be doing more Banter Uptown events at the MVP in the coming weeks and months so stay tuned for that.

Banter at Savour Kilkenny (090, Oct 2014)

The Banter bandwagon is hitting the road again this month and the Marble City is where we’re going. Savour Kilkenny is now in its eighth year and will be providing cooking demonstrations from chefs like Rory O’ConnellBrian McDermott and Kevin Dundon, tastings, fine dining events and various other sideshows (we like the sound of the Spud & Hurl race) in the city from October 24 to 27.


We’re hosting four panels over the weekend, all in the National Craft Gallery where we hosted a Banter session about Irish fashion at last year’s Arts Festival. You’ll find a bunch of food writers and commentators talking and musing about a whole range of topics.

Saturday October 25

Writing about Food (12.30pm)

Being able to put together a great recipe is one thing, writing it in a way which makes the reader want to reach for their spices and larder staples is quite another. While we all can’t be Nigel Slater, there is a definite upswing for people who can combine good writing with great food. An A to Z guide from Dee Laffan and Catherine Cleary about what it takes to turn a great dish into a great read.

What will we be eating this time next year? (2.30pm)

Description: A decade ago, you’d have been hard pressed to find ripe avocados or padron peppers in the aisles of your local supermarket. Go back even further in time and the list of foods which we now take for granted would be completely absent from the weekly shop. Chalk it down to more sophisticated palattes and widespread travel and the influence of such foodies as Yotam Ottolenghi and Thomasina Myers, but we’re far more savvy eaters in 2014. As we reach peak burrito time, we ask Yvonne CartyAoife Ryan and Marie Claire Digby to tell us what comes next for our palattes.


Sunday October 26

War Stories from the Kitchen (12.30pm)

Are the people who start cafes and restaurants mad, driven, crazy, otherwise unemployable or all of the above? Meet some of the people who’ve already gone through all of those sleepless nights, stressful months and successful times to find out what drove them to open their doors to the public – and the restaurant reviewers who reveal what attracts them to a restaurant, what they like and what they dislike. The panel: Denise McBrien (Pichet, Dublin), John Healy (RTE The Restaurant), Paul O’Connor and Blathnaid Bergin (School of Restaurant & Kitchen Management).

What’s on your plate? (2.30pm)

It’s a question which more and more people are asking as issues of food miles, provenance and health become more commonplace. But in an age when huge reductions in the price of food mean we’ve never had to pay less for the basics, do we actually give any thought to why those sweet potatoes or that chicken cost so little? Fiona Dillon and  Yvonne Carty will discuss and dissect these points.

Admission to all the Banter panels at Savour Kilkenny are free of charge. You’ll find the full programme for the weekend here. Big thanks to Marian Flannery, Paul O’Connor, Rose Mulvey and the Savour team for the invite and their help with this.

Banter at The Beatyard: has Dublin really lost its creative edge? (089, Oct 2014)

Over the course of the last year, Banter’s ongoing Living for the City series has delved into many nooks and crannies of living, working and playing in Dublin in the 21st century, from transportmedia and housing to food and immigration. We’ve had really strong turn-outs for all of these events, with the audience keen to get stuck in and have their say (as was also the case with last night’s discussion around privacy).

One of the topics which has bubbled to the surface a few times in many of the discussion panels has been the state of creativity in the city. There are many who will agree with Una Mullally’s recent opinion column that the capital is becoming “a twee, beige place, devoid of spontaneity and creative risk”, thanks to the departure of young Dubliners for other cities and a reduction in spaces in which to be adventurous.

But there are many others who would point to the fact that there’s a hell of a lot going on in Dublin right now right across the artistic, cultural and entertainment boards and, as has always been the case, you just need to go look for it. Just as the city has always had its “Dublin is dead” proponents (1990s’ band Puppy Love Bomb even had a t-shirt bearing that slogan), it has also always had its share of people doing stuff, be it underground ventures of old or the pop-up events of today. And yes, the latter coterie of do-ers includes plenty of twentysomethings.

Smithfield, Dublin, July 2014. Photo: Giuseppe Milo

Smithfield, Dublin, July 2014. Photo: Giuseppe Milo

As part of the The Beatyard citywide festival, Banter presents an evening for poking and prodding to see if Dublin still has a creative edge – or if it ever had one to begin with – what’s going on beneath the surface in arts and culture, where the bottlenecks are and what’s on the way.

Banter panel: Una Mullally (The Irish Times, TG4’s Ceol Ar An Imeall), Sinead Kelly (Hunt & Gather), Dave Smith (Mabos) and Richard Seabrooke (creative director Thinkhouse, founder Offset). Contributions from the audience are, as always, welcome

Date, time and venue: Wednesday October 22, Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1), doors open 6pm, Bantering begins 6.30pm. Limited invite list and tickets here.

Who cares about privacy in 2014? (088, Oct 2014)

Privacy has become the new generation gap. Some don’t really care or think too much about what’s out there about them. They’ve come of age in an always online world where they know those photos from those mad nights in the Shaw or Pepper or MVP are out there along with so many other discarded digital snapshots. That’s life, that’s their life.

Smile! Photo: Michell Zappa

Smile! Photo: Michell Zappa

But others wonder about how much private information they are giving away and why. They stop for a nanosecond to ask yourself why does this or that company want this or that piece of private data. Irish Water want your PPS number – really? Sure, even the guards stopping you for not having a light on your bike wouldn’t ask you for that (yet). To say nothing of U2 invading our iTunes libraries like a gang of Nigerian spammers or the companies with familiar avatars making out like bandits with our private data…

Our panel look at changing perceptions about and attitudes to privacy. Are we happy about what happens to what we say, do and share online? Is it too late to do anything about what we’ve given away? What’s the effect of the erosion on privacy on our mental health? Is talking about privacy just another middle-class liberal preoccupation? Should we all just shut up and learn how to love the algorithm?

The privacy panelFiona Hyde (The Daily Edge/The Journal), Dearbhail McDonald(Associate Editor & Legal Editor The Irish Independent), Mark Smyth (senior clinical psychologist and member of Psychological Society of Ireland) and Rick O’Shea (2fm).

The small print: Banter on privacy takes place at the Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1) on Wednesday October 8. Doors open at 6pm and the Bantering gets underway at 6.30pm sharp. Limited invite list and ticket information here.

Banter at Kinsale Arts Festival (087, Sep 2014)

After two visits to the town in 2013, the Banter series of talks and interviews returns to the Co Cork town for the Kinsale Arts Festival in September. We’ve sessions covering food, music, gardening and film-making and cracking guests for you to meet on Saturday and Sunday 27 and 28 September.

Here’s the line-up

Rory O’Connell (Saturday 1pm Lord Kingsale)

Rory-o-connell-fullMaster chef at work. Rory O’Connell has spent over 20 years cooking in the world’s finest kitchens alongside leading chefs and cooking advocates, including Nico Ladenis at Chez Nico, London, Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons in Oxford, Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, California and Mrytle Allen at Ballmaloe House. Rory co-founded the Ballymaloe Cookery School with his sister, Darina Allen, and is also festival director of the Ballymaloe Literary Festival. His first book, “Master It: How to Cook Today” won the Andre Simon Award for Best Cook Book 2013.

Mary Reynolds (Saturday 2.30pm Lord Kingsale)


Meet the gardener. Mary Reynolds, who won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2002 for her Celtic Sanctuary Irish wildflower garden, is a designer who seeks to create landscapes which are expressions of each individual place. A film about Mary’s story called Wild – which was written and directed by Vivienne de Courcy, stars Emma Greenwell amd Tom Hughes and was partly shot in west Cork – is due for release in 2015.

Iarla Ó Lionáird (Saturday 4pm St Multose Church)


Cúil Aodha calling. Iarla Ó Lionáird is a singer, songwriter and musician with an unique voice and approach. Whether as a member of the Afro Celt Sound System and, more recently, the wonderful Irish-American band The Gloaming or as part of a plethora of other projects and collaborations from Ghost Trio and Crash Ensemble to work alongside Nico Muhly, Gavin Bryars, Dan Trueman and David Lang as well as film credits for Hotel Rwanda, Calavary and others, Iarla has long exhibited highly individual artistic ambitions when it comes to Irish music.

Pat Collins (Sunday noon The Black Pig)


Pat Collins is a Cork-born filmmaker who has directed over two dozen acclaimed documentaries since leaving the work of criticism (he edited Film West magazine) and film festivals (Galway Film Fleadh programmer). He has won multiple awards for work which includes Michael Hartnett: A Necklace of Wrens, Oileán Thoraí, Marooned, Gabriel Byrne – Stories From Home and Pilgrim. In 2012, he released his first feature drama, Silence, about a sound recordist returning to Ireland for the first time in 15 years to take up a job recording landscapes free from man-made sound. His most recent work is Living In A Coded Land, a superb vivid look at the people and places of the Irish Midlands

Selling Irish food to the masses (Sunday 1.30pm The Black Pig)

A conversation with Sully (Cully & Sully) and Kieran Murphy (Murphy’s Ice Cream) about the business of food. How do you get a new food brand off the ground? What kind of work and research is involved in moving beyond just local sales and reach? What are the ups and downs on turning your food into a brand? What lessons are to be learned from scaling up?

Nuala O’Connor (Sunday 3pm The Black Pig)

Nuala O’Connor is the Dingle-based writer and producer behind some of the most compelling Irish documentary films in recent years. She worked as a producer and writer on such TV shows as Bringing It All Back Home (and won an Emmy Award for it), River of Sound (the seven-part series on Irish traditional music presented by Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin), The Raw Bar and The Limits of Liberty, a three part television history of 20th Century Ireland presented by Diarmaid Ferriter. In the last 12 months, she has worked on both Moment to Moment, the acclaimed documentary about The Gloaming, and Céiliúradh, the celebration of Irish music and culture at London’s Royal Albert Hall during the visit of President Michael D Higgins to the UK in April. She was also a traditional music reviewer for the Irish Times for many years.

Full information on all sessions and everything else going on at the festival from September 19 to 28 here. Big thanks to Marie McParlin and all at the festival for the return invitation to the town and their help in putting this on.

Living for the City: Dublin’s new cafe society (086, Sep 2014)

If it’s September, it’s time to go back to the Twisted Pepper. It’s been a while since we did a Banter in our spiritual home on Middle Abbey Street but we’re back in situ for what is looking like an action-packed autumn-winter schedule.

Our first night out for the autumn, the latest in the ongoing Living for the City series on living, working and playing in the capital, is a look at the city’s new-school cafes. A huge number of cafes have opened in the city in the recent while and it seems as if more are opening or expanding with every passing week. Where has this growth come from, what’s behind it and what’s next as taste buds get more adventurous?

Our panel of cafe fanatics are Maisha Lenehan (Bibis), Barry Stephens (147),Aisling Rogerson (The Fumbally) and Ketty Elisabeth (French Foodie In Dublin). You can check out Ketty’s photos and reviews of these cafes and dozens more in the city here.

Photo by Alpha

Photo by Alpha

The small print: Banter on Dublin’s cafe society takes place on Wednesday September 24 at the Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1). Doors open at 6pm and the Bantering gets underway at 6.30pm. There is a limited free guestlist available and you can sign up for it here.

Banter at CultureTECH 2014 (085, Sep 2014)

It’s our second year in a row at CultureTECH, the week-long messy celebration of creative innovation which runs in Derry from September 15 to 21. We had a fantastic time at the festival last year – and we’ve also enjoyed ourselves enormously on visits to the Maiden City with Other Voices in ‘13 and ’14 – so it was an easy decision to say yes when we got the call from Mark Nagurski to come to the northwest again.

Our line-up for the Banter Big Kahunas evening is as follows:

Jamie Byng – publisher and managing director of Canongate

John Leland – New York Times journalist and author of Hip: The History

Steve Carson – Head of BBC Northern Ireland Productions and formerly Chief Editorial Advisor and Director, Factual Group at RTÉ

Hannah Donovan – Co-founder and design Director at This Is My Jam and previously Head of Creative for

The event will take place at the historic St Augustine’s, Palace Street, Derry on Culture Night, Friday September 19 from 7pm. Admission is free, but advance booking is required and can be done here.


Banter at Other Voices at the Electric Picnic (084, Aug 2014)

After various adventures over the last two years in Derry, Dingle and London, Banter is delighted to join Other Voices as they head into the woods at Stradbally Hall on their first ever visit to Co Laois and the Electric Picnic. By comparison, this is the third Picnic in a row for Banter, though we’re swapping our usual digs with Naoise Nunn and Mindfield for Other Voices’ bijou tent in the woods.

Square Electric Picnic Logo 2014_Music and Arts copy

On Saturday afternoon (4pm, Other Voices tent), Melvin Benn (Festival Republic) and Philip King (Other Voices) will join me to talk about the yin and yang of the modern festival. We’ll look at the long-term history of these musical feasts, how festivals have changed over the past decade or so, the new eclecticism which reigns at the better events, the differences in festival culture between countries and the future for these events.

A talk about festivals at a festival within a festival – prepare for the most meta hour of your weekend. There will also be a very special musical guest too who we can’t tell you about quite yet but, trust us, it will be worth it.

Banter Sunday Brunch Summit at Mountain Dew (083, July 2014)

We’re fans of unusual venues at Banter – from an artist’s kitchen in Donegal with a Picasso on the wall to a former bomb shelter in London – so rocking up to the O’Herlihy’s back garden in the wilds outside Macroom was par for the course. The occasion was the Mountain Dew Festival, the little festival in the heart of the countryside which has been running since 2011 featuring a hand-picked selection of local and international acts each year.

This time out, festival organiser Colm O’Herlihy invited us to host a Banter Sunday Brunch Summit and we were delighted to say yes. We’re huge fans of the Sunday morning radio review shows except we don’t think they’re done as well as they could be so we decided to do a Banter radio review show to see what it would be like. One thing we learned is that Marian really does earn her loot.

We’d Nialler9Angela Dorgan (FMC/Hard Working Class Heroes), Brendan Canty (Feel Good Lost) and Stevie Grainger (Red FM, formerly of the Pavilion and DJ Steamy Gee) reviewing the papers and having the chats about whatever caught their eye. We’d Eileen Hogan from UCC talking about the Sir Henry’s exhibition on-campus. We’d Jack Crotty from Rocket Man talking about his adventures in food to date (Rocket Man’s slow-cooked buffalo kebab from the night before got the thumbs up all round).

We’d the infamous Meltybrains? telling jokes and larking around. We’d festival organiser Colm O’Herlihy talking about why he puts on this event. We’d sweet performances from Daniel Martin Moore and Joan Shelley. And we’d a few Banter firsts with an onstage costume change and a panelist spectacularly leaving the stage.  A great day out in Co Cork.

Limerick City of Culture 2015 (082, July 2014)

It’s time for Banter to go back to Limerick and the Make A Move festival. We were here two years ago for a great discussion about Irish hip-hop and it’s a pleasure to get the invitation from Shane MacCurtain and team.

2014 was the year for Limerick’s arts and culture communities to shine thanks to becoming the first national city of culture. Despite some well-publicised teething problems, the year has produced a run of events and festivals to showcase the city’s culture vitality.


The big question, though, is what comes next. When the circus leaves town at midnight on December 31, will Limerick cease to be a city of culture? Does a city like Limerick need a city of culture designation to show off its wares? Isn’t culture supposed to be more about bed nights? What will Limerick remember most from and take from 2014’s cultural parade? Will we remember this year in a year solely for reports, spats, costs and inventive use of an old dairy?

We’ve gathered a panel of local artists and activists to join us at Banter to discuss all of the above (and more besides) and we will hopefully not mention the legacy word all that much.

The panel: Mike Fitzpatrick (director Limerick City of Culture 2014 and previously Head of Limerick School of Art and Design, a director of EVA International and  director and curator of Limerick City Gallery of Art), Monica Spencer (board member of the Arts Council, actor, director and youth drama facilitator with the new Creative Communities Limerick Network), Catherine O’Halloran (Senior Youth Worker,  leading light behind the Draw Out Project and board member of the Make a Move Festival) and Michael Finneran (head of the Department of Arts Education & Physical Education in Mary Immaculate Collegefounder member of Bare Space Theatre Company and one of those behind the establishment of Limerick’s newest professional performing arts venue the Lime Tree Theatre).

Banter presents Limerick City of Culture 2015 takes place at the Shannon Rowing Club (Shannon Bridge) on Friday July 4 at 7.30pm. Admission is free. Big thanks to Shane Curtain and Jennifer Moroney Ward for their help in putting this together. 

Make A Move takes place in various venues across Limerick from July 3 to 6. See website for full information.

A conversation about Frank (081, May 2014)

It’s a Frank special. A few weeks ago, Banter was packed to the rafters for the visit of Jon Ronson who talked at great length about Frank Sidebottom and the true story which inspired the forthcoming Frank film.

This time around, we’re delighted to welcome the film’s director Lenny Abrahamson, actor Domhnall Gleeson and music composer Stephen Rennicks to Banter on Thursday May 1 to talk about all things Frank.


Lenny Abrahamson, who has form when it comes to Banter, has previously directed such magnificent flicks as Adam and Paul, Garage and What Richard Did.

Domhnall Gleeson, who appears in Frank as wannabe Jon Burroughs who finds himself out of his depth when he joins an avant-garde pop band led by the enigmatic Frank, has previously appeared in About Time, Anna Karenina, Calvary, Sensation, True Grit and many other films.

Stephen Rennicks is the Dublin-based composer whose compositions for feature films include The Stag, The Pipe, Happy Ever Afters, Eden and work on all of Lenny Abrahamson’s films to date.

The credits: Banter’s conversation about Frank takes place at the Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1) on Thursday May 1. Doors open 6pm and the conversation gets underway at 6.30pm sharp. Tickets can be obtained here

A conversation about Frank is brought to you in association with Element Pictures. Frank opens in cinemas on May 9

Living for the City: Covering the city (080, Apr 2014)

Banter’s Living for the City series on living, working and playing in Dublin in the 21st century continues to motor along. We’ve had discussions to date on cycling in the cityalternative spacesimmigrationhousing and homelessness and we still haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of stuff around and about Dublin that we want to discuss.

Our latest excursion into capital city issues is Covering the City, a look at media in the city as part of The Beatyard festival.


Covering the City will look at how various media – new, old, online and offline – cover what’s going on in the city. We’ll examine what the panel feels is of interest to Dubliners about the place they call home. And we’ll talk some about the other stuff which should be covered and why.

The panel: Ian Lamont (editor, Totally Dublin), Kate Coleman (editor, Le Cool Dublin), Niall Harbison (Lovin Dublin) and James Reddy (Rabble)

The small print: Covering the City takes place at the Twisted Pepper on Wednesday April 30. Doors open 6pm, the Bantering gets underway at 6.30pm and admission is free, but you need to sign-up to the invite list in dvance.

Banter at Cúirt 2014 (079, Apr 2014)

More announcements from the Banter universe to join last week’s flurry about our conversations with Jon Ronson and Ben Watt (both of which are nearly sold out) and our discussion on Irish identity at the St Patrick’s Day Festival.

We’ve one more Banter-related announcement to come this week, but today is all about our first visit to the Cúirt International Festival of Literature in Galway in April.

Banter will be hosting three events in all on Saturday April 12

Coffee and Cronuts with Sam Lipsyte: an interview with one of America’s best and funniest fiction writers. Have a coffee, enjoy a cronut and hear what Sam has to say about the art of sardonic writing (and cronuts). Busker Brownes, 11am, admission €8

The Music Book Club: what do musicians read? Who are their favourite writers? What effect, if any, do those writers have on their songs and music. Join us for some book chat with special guests Adrian CrowleyNíal Conlon from Delorentos and Maria Doyle KennedyRoisin Dubh, 3pm, €8

Facts about fiction with Rhianna Pratchett. An award-winning scriptwriter, story designer and general narrative paramedic, Rhianna has worked on such titles as Tomb Raider, Heavenly Sword, Overlord, Bioshock Infinite and Mirror’s Edge, as well as a plethora of screenplays and comics. She joins us to talk about the nuts and bolts of how to tell stories in games, develop a narrative and collaborate with a team. An Taibhdhearc, 5pm €8

You can find full details of the rest of the Cúirt programme – including Hugo Hamilton, Sebastian Barry, Roddy Doyle, Kathleen McMahon, Anakana Schofield, Colin Barrett, Patrick deWitt, recent Banter guests Donal Ryan and Eimear McBride and many, many more – here

An evening with Damian Barr (077, Apr 2014)

We’re as pleased as punch to welcome Damian Barr to Banter for a special evening about his book Maggie & Me. Damian is the latest literary prize-winner to join Donal Ryan and Eimear McBride in the Banter Hall of Fame, as Maggie & Me was voted political humour and satire book of the year at the Political Book Awards in London earlier this week. The critical praise for Maggie & Me has been loud and lavish too since its publication.


Maggie & Me is the touching and darkly witty memoir about a yongster surviving Thatcher’s Britain; a story of growing up gay in a straight world and coming out the other side in spite of, and maybe because of, the iron lady. It’s a tale of a family divided by sectarian suspicion in a community held together by a sprawling steelworks. As Maggie snatches school milk, smashes the unions and makes greed good, our hero works hard, plans his escape and – in spite of violence, strikes, AIDS and Clause 28 – manages to fall in love dancing to Madonna in Glasgow’s only gay club.

Aside from Maggie & Me, Damian has been a journalist for over ten years writing mostly for The Times, but also the Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Evening Standard and Granta. He is the author of Get It Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis and has co-written two plays for BBC Radio 4. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Faculty at the School of Life, host of the infamous Literary Salon at Shoreditch House and was named Writer of the Year at the 2013 Stonewall Awards.

An evening with Damian Barr takes place at the Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St.,) Dublin 1 on Wednesday April 2. Doors open at 6pm-ish and the conversation with Damian gets underway at 6.30pm. Admission is free and you can sign up to the limited invite list here.

A conversation with Dawn O’Porter (078, Apr 2014)

Banter’s ongoing series on conversations with authors has seen us welcome the likes of Jon RonsonBen Watt and Alan McGee into the tent in recent times, while we also look forward to our visit to the Cúirt festival in Galway next month for a day of book-related talks.

Next month, we also present a conversation with writer, TV presenter and columnist Dawn O’Porter. She’ll be here to talk about her new book for young adults Goose, the follow-up to last year’s well-received debut novel Paper Aeroplanes.



Aside from these books, Dawn is also the editor of The Booby Trap And Other Bits And Boobs (a compilation of stories by well-known people in aid of breast cancer charities), the presenter of a rake of TV shows about all sorts of things from polygamy to the movie Dirty Dancing for the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Sky and FIVE in the UK, and WE TV and TLC in the US – her next appearance will be on This Old Thing, a Channel 4 series on vintage clothes (and there’s a book to go with it) – and a columnist for Glamour magazine.



We’re delighted to welcome Dawn to Banter for a conversation to be conducted by author and journalist Anna Carey.

Date, time and venue: it all takes place on Saturday April 5 at the Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1). Doors open at 6.30pm and the interview kicks off at 7pm sharp. Admission is free and you can sign up to the limited invite list here.

The Back Page

The Back Page is a new festival of talking about sports. Brought to you by the people behind Banter and Bodytonic Music, it will feature all kinds of sports people talking about all kinds of sports. For our first outing, we have swimmers, athletes, football managers, snooker champs, rugby players and those who write about and talk about all of the above.

Full day by day programme below. Tickets for each session are now on sale here, including a special season ticket which will get you into every talk over the weekend.


6.30pm Stage – Brian Kerr on the art of the gaffer

As well as being an astute and sharp pundit, Brian Kerr has been an international manager (Republic Of Ireland, Faroe Islands) and a club manager (St Patrick’s Athletic) so he knows all about controlling, directing and guiding the team from the sideline. The Back Page will quiz him about what it takes to be a manager, what makes a good – and bad – manager and who he rates in the game. Anyone who caught Brian in full flow at Banter a while ago will know to expect some witty, insightful and super-sharp thoughts.

8.00pm Stage – Go Deep with Steve Redmond

The endurance swimmer comes out of the water to talk (and talk). A former rugby player and triathlete, Steve is best known for successfully completing the Oceans Seven challenge, which entails swimming seven of the most difficult straits or channels across the globe, and was voted 2012 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year. The Back Page will ask him about what he does and, more importantly, what drives him on to do more.


6.30pm Stage – War Stories

Vincent Hogan (Irish Independent), Shane McGrath (Irish Daily Mail chief sportswriter) and Clare McNamara (RTE) compare scars and tall tales from life in the trenches writing and talking about sports. Chaired by Michael Moynihan (author of “GAAconomics” and sports writer with The Irish Examiner). Flak jackets and helmets available at the door.

6.30pm Basement – Online with Paddy Power

Michael Nagle from Paddy Power on how social media helped to turn a small Irish bookmaking set-up into a worldwide operation. We’ll hear about how the company has used social media to push their profile and build the brand, the ups and downs of this strategy, the way in which social media has changed the market, what’s the future for sports – and sportspeople – online and if our favourite athletes will continue to use Twitter to act the eejit

8.00pm Stage – A conversation with Ken Doherty

The don of the green baize talks sport as we join him on the road from Jason’s in Ranelagh to world snooker champion and well-regarded broadcaster with Sunshine FM

8.00pm Basement – A rough ride in Rwanda

Writer with The Observer, Tim Lewis is also the author of “Land of Second Chances: The Impossible Rise of Rwanda’s Cycling Team”, an incredible book about how the Rwandan cycling team overcame impossible odds to inspire a country which had been torn apart by the 1994 genocide. In conversation with Gavin Cummiskey from The Irish Times


6.30pm Stage – GAAconomics

We all know – or think, anyway – that the GAA is loaded, but where exactly is the money and where does it come from? One of the best sports books of 2013 was“GAAconomics” by Irish Examiner journalist Michael Moynihan who set out on the trail on the money in the our national games. He joins us at The Back Page to uncover the money trail from the training pitch of your local club to the plush surrounds of GAA HQ in Croke Park. In conversation with Mick O’Keeffe

6.30pm Basement – The Summit

Nick Ryan is the director of The Summit, the powerful, magnetic and riveting documentary about what happened on the K2 expedition in 2008 which led to the deaths of 11 climbers who had successfully made their way to the top. It’s a compelling look at why people take this challenge on the peak which straddles the Himalayas between Pakistan and China – and the terrible, often fatal dangers even for the most experienced climbers


8.00pm Stage – The Anti Room on the gender politics of sport


Be it Premiership football, golf, rubgy or Formula 1, there is an on ongoing disparity between attitudes to, and coverage of, male and female sports. Sportswomen and commentators – Irish women’s rugy team captain Fiona Coghlan and writer, broadcaster and sports fan Elaine Buckley – join Sinead Gleeson to discuss sports, gender and the issues which women athletes face.

8pm Basement – Just A Bit of Banter Banter

Eamon Zayed (Shamrock Rovers and Libya), Dermot Keely (former player and manager, current newspaper columnist with The Irish Sun) and Ed Randolph (US born former basketball pro and coach now living in Dublin) recall tales of racism and sectarianism, on and off the field of play, discuss what needs to be done to deal with them in sport and how sport can, in the wider world, help to tackle them. Presented in association with Show Racism the Red Card and chaired by Emmet Malone from The Irish Times

Banter on Irish identity: past, present and future (074, Mar 2014)

Continuing a busy week of Banter announcements, we’re delighted to announce a special panel as part of this year’s St Patrick’s Day Festival.

The question of Irish identity is one which seems particularly apt around about now, as the national holiday approaches and we prepare for a few years of centenary commemorations and celebrations. But what does it mean to be Irish in 2014? Does it even matter? Does our past identity inform our future one? Or should it? What about the new wave of Irish emigrants? This Banter event will delve into questions of Irishness and unearth where our collective identity is at – or at least start the conversation.


The panel: Sinead Gleeson (Irish Times/The Book Show), Denise Charlton (Immigrant Council of Ireland), Colm O’Gorman (author, activist, director of Amnesty International Ireland and founder of One in Four) and Paddy Cullivan (The Camembert Quartet,  Leviathan and Callan’s Kicks). This Banter will be chaired by Una Mullally.

For this one, we’re moving to the Grand Lodge of the Freemason’s Hall (17 Molesworth St., Dublin 2) on Saturday March 15 at 4pm. Admission is free but advance registration is required.

Thanks to Susanna Lagan at the St Patrick’s Day Festival for the invitation to take part.

A conversation with Ben Watt (075, Mar 2014)

Musician, singer, songwriter, author and DJ, Ben Watt is a man with a long and chequered musical history. One half of Everything But the Girl, the founder of the Buzzin’ Fly and Strange Feeling labels, the man behind the Lazy Dog, Neighbourhood and Cherry Jam club nights and venues and a regular DJ on BBC 6 Music, Ben recently returned to the solo career he parked back in 1983 when EBTG came along. His new album “Hendra” will be released on his new Unmade Road label next month.


He has also found the time to pen two fine books. Published in 1996, his autobiographical memoir “Patient – the True Story of a Rare Illness” told the story of his extraordinary life and death battle with a rare auto-immune disease Churg-Strauss Syndrome (aka Eosinophilic Polyangiitis) four years earlier, during which he was hospitalised for nine weeks, endured several life-saving operations, and lost 80 per cent of his small intestine.

His new book is called “Romany & Tom” and it’s a portrait of his parents, a vivid story of the post-war years, ambition and stardom, and family roots and secrets.


Having made his Banter debut in London last year, we’re delighted to welcome him to Dublin for an interview, to be conducted by Sinead Gleeson, presenter of RTE Radio One’s The Book Show, about the new book and his career to date.

Date, time and venue: it all takes place on Tuesday March 18 at the Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1). Doors open at 6pm and the interview kicks off at 6.30pm sharp. Admission is free and you can sign up to the limited invite list here.



A conversation with Jon Ronson (076, Mar 2014)

It gives us great pleasure to welcome journalist, documentary maker, humorist and author Jon Ronson to Banter. Between books like Them: Adventures With Extremists and The Men Who Stare At Goats to great documentaries like Dr Paisley, I Presume and Crazy Rulers of the World, we’ve long been fans and admirers of his work.

Jon will be joining us on Thursday March 20 to talk about “Frank”, his forthcoming e-book on the extraordinary Frank Sidebottom and the true story which inspired the forthcoming movie of the same name by Lenny Abrahamson which stars Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

For a taster of what to expect from the book, have a read of this beautiful piece by Jon about Frank’s creator Chris Sievey, which ran in The Guardian a few months ago.


The Banter conversation with Jon Ronson takes place at the Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1) on Thursday March 20. Doors open at 6pm and the talking starts at 6.30pm-ish. Admission is free but limited and you need to sign up to the invite list here. [Please note that the invite list is now closed]