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]

Living for the City: alternative spaces (073, Feb 2014)

We’d another full house at Banter last night as we welcomed Peter McVerry for a conversation about his life and work. It was an engrossing evening, helped hugely by the righteous conviction and fortrightness of the man answering the questions. Many thanks to Peter for his time – and to the audience for their attention and great questions.

That conversation was part of our ongoing Living for the City series which really seems to have struck a chord. To date, we’ve also talked about bikesgaffs and the new Dubliners.

Our fifth outing will be about alternative spaces around the city. In recent times, we’ve seen a huge growth in new venues and creative spaces in and around the city which have provided audiences with something other than the norm when it came to entertainment.

We’ve gathered together a number of people who are involved in these new initiatives to talk about how these spaces have come about, what they offer to creative projects, what’s the long-run prognosis for these venues, the role of NAMA and Dublin City Council and what advice they’d offer to those seeking to do their own alternatives.

Our panel:  Orlaith Ross (The Crypt), Laura G Dovn (Block T), Peter O’Brien (Upstart) and Ciara Scanlan (MART)

The Crypt at Christ Church Cathedral

Block T

Granby Park



MART, Dublin

The details: Twisted Pepper, Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1; Wednesday February 26; doors open 6pm and the talking starts at 6.30pm; discussion followed by audience Q&A; admission is free but you need to sign up to the invite list here.

Bantercasts: we’re now in the podcasting business with new episodes from our previous adventures in talking every week. You can catch up on the broadcasts to datehere or subscribe via the iTunes store or, for Android users, this link. Big thanks to Bantercast producer Tanya White for Old Hat for all her work on this and to Garret HynesKiwi Horgan and Ken McGuire for their recording aid and assistance.

Banter at Other Voices, Derry (072, Feb 2014)

We really should be playing “The Town I Loved So Well” at this juncture. Banter travels the rocky road to Derry next weekend for our third outing in the city in the last 12 months and our second visit with Other Voices.

It’s actually our fifth hook-up with the good folks at Other Voices in all – we’ve already been with them in DingleDerryLondon and Dingle again – and it’s mighty good to be able to bring the Banter show on the road like this every couple of months.

We have an action-packed line-up of guests for Derry and here we go with the day-by-day line-up and venue details. Admission to all Banter at Other Voices events is free, but capacity is limited so it’s first come, first served. We’ll also be raffling tickets for the main Other Voices’ concert at our events Saturday and Sunday so if you’re after a ticket, we may be able to help.

Thursday – Nerve Centre, Magazine St. – 8pm

Annie Mac – the BBC Radio One queenpin joins us for a chat about life on the radio. She’ll be playing a late-night gig at Sandino’s but before she brings the rave, Annie will be talking about this, that and the other.

Annie Mac

Annie Mac

Saturday – The Cottage, Craft Village, Shipquay St. – 2-6pm)

Conor Masterson – the director of In the Deep Shade, the acclaimed documentary on Irish musicians The Frames, on his relationship with the band and catching the skin and bones of the band’s 20 year-plus career on the big screen. Conor’s film will be screening at The Nerve Centre at 5.30pm as part of the OneTwoOneTwo music documentary festival’s trip to Other Voices.

The Love/Hate Story – it’s been one of the biggest Irish TV hits of recent years and as we prepare for the fifth season, director David Caffrey joins us for the ballad of Nidge, John Boy, Fran, Tommy, Siobhan, Trish and Elmo

Michael Hann on the art of the interview – what does it take to get a great interview out of someone? Is there anything that can be done to save an interview when it goes off the tracks? Should some interviewees be told in advance that they can always say no? Is Noel Gallagher really the best value interviewee in rock? Michael Hann, The Guardian’s music editor and a man who knows his way around good and bad interviews, talks about what happens when you press record

Guardian music editor Michael Hann

Guardian music editor Michael Hann

Musical performances on the day from Colm Mac Con Iomaire and Eve Murtagh.

Colm Mac Con Iomaire

Eve Murtagh. Photo: Kieran Frost

Sunday – The Cottage, Craft Village, Shipquay St. – 2-4.30pm

Lloyd Bradley – a highly-regarded British writer on black music from funk to reggae, Lloyd is the author of the compelling history of reggae “Bass Culture” and, more recently, the compelling “Sounds Like London”, a book at looks at how immigrants have shaped black music in the city over the last 100 years.

Lloyd Bradley

Paul Duane – the film-maker behind hit TV series Amber and such fantastic dodcumentaries as Barbaric Genius (on London-Irish writer John Healy), Natan (profiling revolutionary Franco-Romanian director Bernard Natan) and Very Extremely Dangerous (focusing on musician, robber, cancer patient and all-round badass Jerry McGill) talks about his work to date – and life after getting listed by Variety magazine as one of their 10 Directors to Watch in 2014

Paul Duane

Paul Duane

We will also have a live set from Sive today.


Sunday – Nerve Centre, Magazine St. – 5pm sharp

Martin Hayes – we bring our weekend of Banter to a close with a conversation with the master fiddler from Feakle, Co Clare and a founder member of The Gloaming, a group who are proving to be one of the greatest Irish acts of their generation. Banter’s conversation with Martin Hayes will precede of a screening of the Moment to Moment documentary on The Gloaming as part of OneTwoOneTwo at Other Voices.



Full information on all Other Voices’ activities in Derry over the weekend, from the performances in the Glassworks and such new initiatives as Local Voices and Outer Voices to the music trail to OneTwoOneTwo, here.

A conversation with Peter McVerry (071, Jan 2014)

Time for the fourth installment in Living for the City, Banter’s autumn/winter series of talks about living, working and playing in the capital city. After indepth looks at bikesgaffs and the new Dubliners, we welcome Fr Peter McVerry to Banter for an indepth conversation on his life and work.


The latest freeman of Dublin has been working with Dublin’s young homeless for more than 30 years. During this time he has campaigned tirelessly for the rights of these young people. In 1979, Fr McVerry opened a hostel to address the urgent need for accommodation for young homeless people. Four years later, he set up a charity called The Arrupe Society, to provide further housing and support.

Renamed in 2005 as Peter McVerry Trust, the charity has progressed from providing a three bedroom flat in Ballymun to today’s wide range of services catering for the diverse needs of young homeless people. Some services include an open access service, supported accommodation, drug services, under 18s hostels and apartments across the city to offer longer-term housing for those ready to live independently.

The details: a conversation with Peter McVerry will take on Wednesday January 29 at the Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1). Doors open at 6pm and the interview begins at 6.30pm. Admission is free and you just need to sign in advance to the invite list here.

Banter at First Fortnight: Over the Bar (070, Jan 2014)

It gives us great pleasure to start 2014 in the company of the First Fortnight festival. Since 2009, First Fortnight have been talking about and examining mental health through the creative arts. They’ve put together a fascinating programme of visual art, film, music, spoken word, theatre and discussions for their 2014 run.

Our contribution to the festival is Over the Bar, a panel looking at how sports teams and individual athletes deal with the issue of mental health.

Given that sportsmen are exposed to win-at-all-costs pressure from a young age, there is a growing need for all codes to address how mental health issues are responded to and whether the culture around sport is conducive to promoting a tolerant response to those experiencing difficulty. The discussion will look at the many issues around mental health in sport and what teams, clubs, organisations and managers should be doing to help, both during and after a player’s career, especially given the reticence by men in particular to speak about these issues.

The panel: Richie Sadlier (formerly irish professional football player and CEO St Patrick’s Athletic and currently pundit for RTE Sports and Second Captains and Sunday Independent columnist), David Gillick (athlete – 400 metres gold medal winner at 2005 and 2007 European Indoor Championships) and Liam Moggan (Coaching Ireland).

Former Irish footballer Richie Sadlier

Former Irish footballer Richie Sadlier


Irish athlete David Gillick

Irish athlete David Gillick


Banter: Over the Bar takes place on Tuesday January 7 at the Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1) and tickets for the event are on sale here at €5 each.

Banter Review of the Year (069, Dec 2013)

If we were simply talking about the review of the Banter year, there would certainly be lots to talk about. This was the year of peak Banter, 27 events and counting as we roamed from Cork to DerryKinsale to Londonthe Burren to Belfast and Dingle to our spiritual home at the Twisted Pepper in Dublin, where it all began.

We talked about everything from craft beers and Bruce Springsteen to bikes and farming. We had fascinating conversations with people like Alan McGeePeter HookDr Steve MyersMaeve O’RourkePaul MorleyMary FitzgeraldNeil Hannon and tons more. 2013 was a blast – and we’ve some amazing stuff already in the pipeline for 2014.

As has become the norm at Banter (and we did this in 200920102011 and 2012), we end the year with the review of the year. It’s always a splendid night out as our panel run the rule over the events, news stories, heroes and villians of the last 12 months.

Our panel for the review which will probably cover everything from horseburgers and the Anglo tapes to Martin O’Neill, the Clare hurlers and the selfie: Aine Lawlor (presenter of RTE Radio One’s News At One, RTE TV’s The Week In Politics and Facing Cancer), Alison Curtis (Today FM DJ and producer), Paddy Cosgrave (Web Summit, F.ounders) and Ciaran Walsh (managing editor Le Cool Dublin and co-founder Sweatshop).


RTE’s Aine Lawlor

Date, time and venue: Monday December 16, 6.30pm (doors open 6pm), Twisted Pepper, Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1.

Admission is free, but you must sign up in advance to our guestlist here.

PLEASE NOTE: the invite list for this event is now full. Additional spaces may become available nearer the date so check back for more information.

The Banter Salon at Other Voices, Dingle (068, Dec 2013)

A year ago, we made our way on the Banter bandwagon to Dingle for the very first Banter Salon as part of the Other Voices’ event in the town. A year on, and having travelled with them to Derry and London in the meantime, we’re very happy to heading back to Foxy John’s for more.

Joining us for the weekend will be:

David Gray – expect a long-form, one-off, tea-time interview at the start of the weekend with the singer-songwriter ahead of the release of his new album in 2014.


Eimear McBride – the author of the amazing “A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing” and the winner of the first ever Goldsmiths Prize for fiction. Written nine years ago, “A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing” was rejected by mainstream publishers and was eventually published by Galley Beggar Press in Norwich and was acclaimed by reviewers, with Anne Enright calling McBride a “genius” for the book’s “truth-spilling, uncompromising and brilliant prose”.


John Grant – we welcome him to the Banter Salon for an indepth interview about the music he makes, the music he listens to and the music which he is inspired by.


Alice Maher – an Irish artist of international standing, Alice’s work is an ongoing narrative about change in effect all around us, as seen in Becoming, the recent spectacular IMMA retrospective of her career to date


Pat Leahy – the Sunday Business Post’s deputy editor and political editor is the editor of two of the finest books about Ireland’s recent history, “Showtime” (2009) and this year’s “The Price of Power: Inside Ireland’s Crisis Coalition”


Gerard Barrett – the young Kerryman behind Pilgrim Hill, one of the year’s most powerful and compelling films, talks about what it takes to make a masterful debut from a first-time film-maker, the reaction to that film, the cinematic appeal of rural Ireland and what comes next for him

Jack Reynor – the star of What Richard Did, Dollhouse and the forthcoming blockbuster Transformers: Act of Extinction will be appearing alongside Gerard Barrett to talk about the  who, what, why, how and where of his acting

Transformers 4 - Michael Bay Announces Jack Reynor   Lead Role  Mark Wahlberg Image__scaled_600


Michael Moynihan – Irish Examiner sports journalist and the author of the fascinating“GAAconomics” book about the secret life of money in the GAA. Like all great investigations, “GAAconomics” follows the money in hurling and Gaelic football to come up with an absorbing tale about our national games.


Donal Ryan – the Tipperaryman’s debut book “The Spinning Heart” won widespread praise, garnering the Irish Book of the Year Award before being longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and topping the bestseller lists. His second novel “The Thing About December” has just been published.


David Arnold – the English film composer and musician on scoring James Bond movies, Little Britain, Dr Who and Sherlock, working with Adele, Shirley Bassey, Ton Jones and Bjork, the gig as musical director for the 2012 London Olympics and getting the chance now and then to do his own thing.


The Banter Salon takes place at Foxy John’s, Dingle on Friday December 6 (5-6pm – the David Gray special), Saturday December 7 (2-6pm) and Sunday December 8 (2-6pm) and there will be special musical guests each day. Admission is free, but space is strictly limited so get there early.

Full information on all Other Voices’ activities in Dingle over the weekend, from the performances in the church to the music trail, here.

Living for the City: the new Dubliners (067, Nov 2013)

We’ve already had two quite exceptional and well-attended outings in Banter’s autumn/winter series about life in Dublin in the 21st century. After our looks at bikes and gaffs, it’s time to turn the focus on the new Dubliners who’ve moved to Ireland to make a home and a life for themselves.

7225-Immigrants-620x413New Dubliners pictured at a recent citizenship ceremony

It’s a discussion which has been prompted by many chats and observations over the last 12 months. The Irish migration narrative is usually all about people leaving Ireland and the whole generation emigration discussion, but this ignores the fact that many thousands of people are also moving in the other direction. Between the ongoing citizenship ceremonies, the many new businesses helmed by new arrivals and the fresh energy and enthusiasm provided by the newcomers, Ireland’s migrants are making a valuable, if unheralded, contribution to this country.

The New Dubliners will look at the city through the eyes of those who’ve moved here to make the city their home by talking a group of new Dubliners about their experience of living in the city: the good and the bad, the stuff that keeps them here and the things which make them pine for home, the ins and outs of making a home here.

Our panel: Wissame Cherfi (film-maker), Monika Sapielak (Centre for Creative Practice), Hassan Lemtouni (cafe owner) and Minhee Won (financial data research specialist). We’ll also be screening Wissame’s award-winning short We Are Dublin on the night

The details: The New Dubliners will take on Wednesday November 27 at the Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1) from 8pm. Admission is free and you just need to sign in advance to the invite list here.

Banter at Belfast Music Week: Print the Legend (066, Nov 2013)

Next month, Belfast Music Week swings into action again in the city. A week of gigs, events, talks, workshops and much more, there’s over 250 different events happening at 70 different venues all over the city from November 11 to 17.

From the big ‘un – that would be Van Morrison’s do at the Waterfront Hall – to some very interesting ones – for example, this lunchtime freebie featuring More Than Conquerors and Joshua Burnside – there’s a rake of stuff to suit all tastebuds.


Thanks to an invite from Belfast Music Week co-ordinator (and Oh Yeah music centre founder) Stuart Bailie, there will be a Banter panel in the middle of things. Print the Legend takes place on Thursday November 14 at the Group Space in the Ulster Hall (12.30pm-1.30pm, admission free).

In the here and now of Belfast’s musical world, the past still rings loudly. The city has very successfully packaged its legends from the last few decades – from Van to Good Vibrations – but a danger arises when nostalgia and the feel-good moments of the past takes over. The momentum and energy required to keep a contemporary scene going is instead used to lionise and mythologise the past. It’s not a case of “Belfast is dead, long live Belfast”, but more about teasing out if a city which often finds itself living in the past is a good place from where to plan for the future.

Our guests for this discussion on the city’s creativity then and now are Sean O’Hagan (The Observer), Glenn Patterson (author, lecturer and Good Vibrations’ scriptwriter), Katie Richardson (Katie & The Carnival) and Brian Coney (editor, The Thin Air).

More info on Belfast Music Week here

A conversation with Alan McGee (065, Nov 2013)

Alan McGee, the man who co-founded the formidable and peerless Creation Records’ label, publishes his autobiography “Creation Stories: Riots, Raves and Running a Label” in November and he’s coming to Banter to talk about it.

The book is the story of the man with many strings to his bow, from managing the Jesus and Mary Chain to co-founding Creation, the label which introduced the world to My Bloody Valentine, House of Love, Ride, Primal Scream, Oasis and a ton of other bands. Meanwhile, McGee himself became one of the figureheads of Britpop, hung out at 10 Downing Street, started managing the Libertines and, most recently, returned to the record business with new label 359 Music.

Banter’s conversation with Alan McGee takes place at the Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1) on Tuesday November 12. Doors open at 6pm and the conversation gets underway at 6.30pm. Admission is free, but you need to add your name to the list here.

Alan McGee’s “Creation Stories: Riots, Raves and Running a Label” is published by Sidgwick & Jackson on November 7.


Banter in the Burren: farming on the edge (064, Oct 2013)

It’s time to head west to Co Clare for the Burren Winterage Weekend. The good folks at the Burrenbeo Trust have invited us to come along to host a discussion about farming on the edge on Saturday October 26 and we’re delighted to accept.


There are as many definitions of The Burren as there are people who come west to take it all in. Everyone from tourists to botanists, painters to poets, archaeologists to ecologists have come to this wild landscape over the years in search of visions and insights.

But the thoughts, actions and requirements of the men and women who farm in the Burren also need to be taken into account. While the number of farmers who work this land may have dramatically dropped in recent times, the issues around conservation, sustainability and livliehoods still need to be addressed to ensure a harmony between insiders and outsiders.

Banter in the Burren will look at the special issues which surround farming in a peripheral area like this. Are the problems here unique or are they part of a bigger picture involving heritage and making a living? How do farmers here use their collective voice to make their case? Are there other European regions which the Burren farmers should be looking to for pointers?

Our panel for the evening will be Ella McSweeney (RTE TV’s Ear to the Ground, RTE Radio One’s Countrywide and BBC Radio Four), Dr Áine Macken Walsh (Research Officer at Teagasc’s Rural Economy and Development Programme), Michael Davoren (Chair of Burren IFA and member of Burren Life Advisory Committee) and David Meredith (rural economist with Teagasc). There will also be a presentation beforehand by agricultural writer and academic, John Feehan, exploring the future of the farming community in Ireland.

The event takes place in Vaughan’s Barn, Main Street, Kilfenora, Co Clare and gets underway at 7pm. Admission is free and you’ll get more information on the weekend here. Big thanks to Brigid Barry and Brendan Dunford from the Burrenbeo Trust for all their help in putting this together.