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 (076, 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 (075, 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]