MMA: art or savagery? (180, Nov 2017)

Mixed Martial Arts is one of the world’s fastest growing sports, with stars such as Conor McGregor becoming household names. But many critics claim it is no better than street brawling and there have even been attempts by the British Medical Association to ban it.

People within the sport say that far from being a brawler, MMA requires you to be an athlete in prime condition with a strategic thought process, and participants are experts in many forms of martial arts including karate, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing and kickboxing.

So what makes MMA so appealing and the focus of so much media attention? We’ll discuss this and more with MMA fighters Leah McCourt (IMMAF European & World Champion), Phil Campbell and Danny Corr (MMA World Governing Body Coaching Committee, chairman Ulster Amateur MMA and founder of MMA Youth Development programmes).

MMA fighter Leah McCourt
MMA fighter Leah McCourt

The details: Banter on MMA takes place at the Bullitt Hotel, Belfast on Wednesday November 1 at 6.30pm. Tickets can be booked here.

The wrap knows one of your secrets

(1) A shout out for dogged music journalism and a reminder that those who call themselves music journalists should actually do more than review new releases or docile Q&A interviews with pop stars. Superb profile of Chicago writer Jim De Rogatis, the man who made it his business to dig into the R. Kelly story and investigate allegations of sexual abuse against the r’n’b performer. Real music journalism work.

(2) “A Porky Prime Cut”: the secret history of messages etched into records.

(3) Monday morning sounds: Anne Briggs “The Time Has Come”

(4) One for those running the Dublin marathon next weekend: inside the strange, weird and downright bizarre world of social media marathon cheating

(5) If you’re one of those people who walk through airports and wonder about the amount of people rocking those travel pillows with them, this is for you. TL:DR? Yep, they’re useless

(6) Banter podcast: an encounter with the one and only Fachtna O Ceallaigh, the straight-shooting music manager. There’s lots to dig into here, from his days writing about music for The Evening Press to managing acts like Clannad, the Boomtown Rats, Bananarama, the Bothy Band, Donal Lunny, Morrissey (for seven eventful weeks), Eamon, Ricky Gervais (when he was in Seona Dancing), Dread Broadcasting Corporation and, currently, Hare Squead.

(7) John Jeremiah Sullivan is one of our favourite writers because his work is also so detailed and colourful. In new essay The Curses, he writes about the history of what may be the first blues song ever written, an 1887 sheet-music hit titled “The Curse” by composer Paul Dresser.

(8) 30 new songs every Monday: the science behind Spotify’s Discover Weekly.

(9) Time to go back to Detroit: the story of how techno was born, developed and continues to thrive amidst the city’s financial and social strife.

(10) Tune


The Constitution at 80 (179, Oct 2017)

Blasphemy. Divorce. Abortion. A women’s place in the home. Directly-elected mayors. Divorce. Voting rights. Extra powers for Oireachtas Committees. 

These are the seven issues that we, the people, will be asked to decide upon in a slew of forthcoming referendums. Before we get the posters printed and bash out the principles involved in issues of such social and democratic importance, Banter wants to ask a question: is there a better way?

At eighty years of age, our Constitution has had a good run – should we be putting our elderly and highest law through bruising and potentially transformative trials, and repeatedly polarising the electorate with ultimatums? Or is it time to start anew? How has it fared so far and what would the drafters make of its current state?  What sort of constitutional scene could safeguard and futureproof the principles of the Irish people for the next eighty years? Could we do without one? 


Our panel to deal with these issues and more: the Honourable Ms. Justice Marie Baker (The High Court), Dr David Kenny (Professor of Constitutional Law at Trinity College Dublin) and Ruadhán Mac Cormaic (author of The Supreme Court and Irish Times Foreign Affairs Correspondent).

The details: Banter on The Constitution at 80 takes place on Wednesday October 25 at The Liquor Rooms, Wellington Quay, Dublin 2. Doors open at 6pm and the event kicks off at 6.30pm. Tickets can be booked here, including a limited number of early bird tickets. Proceeds from the event will go to the FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres).

The politics of culture (177, Oct 2017)

One of Banter’s favourite Irish events is Limerick’s Make A Move festival and, as has been the case since 2012, we’re are as proud as punch to be part of this year’s happenings as well. The festival kicks off on Friday October 6 and they have some pretty awesome stuff going on over the weekend, including screenings, workshops, performances, poetry jams and much more.


This year, we’re looking at the politics of culture and the way in which popular culture and activism have begun to come together with the likes of grime4corbyn, Black Lives Matter and other movements. It’s certainly not a new phenomenon by any means – the current Soul Of A Nation exhibition at the Tate in London demonstrates that – but it shows that there is a role for art and culture in raising awareness, bringing people together and creating an effective catalyst for change.

The talkers: we’ll be joined by Sahar Ali (poet, actor and performer), Dr Eileen Hogan (lecturer in social policy at University College Cork) and Executive Steve (Dubs Against Racism and Raidió Na Life DJ) to take in all of this.

The details: Banter at Make A Move takes place at Ormston House, Limerick on Saturday October 7 at 2pm. Admission is free.

Make sure to check out the full Make A Move programme here. Big up to Shane and all the Make A Move team for inviting us along and taking good care of us.