Is there for a future for the critics? That was the topic for discussion at one of the Banters in Dublin Castle as part of the recent nationwide Criunniu Na Casca event. Cristín Leach (art critic, Sunday Times Ireland), Ian Maleney (writer and critic for The Wire, The Quietus, The Irish Times and Fallow Media), Graham McLaren (director of the Abbey Theatre) and Nadine O’Regan (arts editor, Sunday Business Post) joined us to talk about the role of the critic in 2017, to assess their importance at a time when everyone’s a critic and to muse if arts and culture organisations will miss the critic when he or she leaves their free seat for the last time
Over the summer, we’ve been doing a monthly residency at the Bullitt Hotel in Belfast and it produced a fascinating discussion on the future of work. We were joined on the night by Adrienne Hanna from Right Revenue, Kevin Curran, Professor of Cyber Security at the University Of Ulster, and Philip Brady from Citibank to talk about how groundbreaking developments in technology and artificial intelligence will mean many changes for workplaces in the years and decades to come. Are any our jobs safe from the robots? Indeed, will Banter in 2027 just feature a bunch of robots having a chat about pesky humans? The sound quality on the podcast you’re about to hear may well have been better had it been a robot rather than me in charge of things so apologies for this.
This week, we’re delighted to say hello to Olan O’Brien from All City Records. Olan was a Banter guest in our very early days and he was great value for the interview, but we never recorded that one so it was fantastic to make amends for that at the Shore Shots Festival in The Model in Sligo a few weeks ago. A great conservation about running a record shop, operating a record label, the state of hip-hop today and various other matters.
There was a full house at the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin when we put on this discussion about media in an age of fake news as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin. We were joined by Kevin Donnellan (UK editor, Storyful), Lois Kapila (co-founder and managing editor, Dublin Inquirer), Jane Suiter (School of Communications DCU and Director of the Institute for Future Media and Journalism) and Cathal McMahon (Irish Independent) to discuss misinformation on social platforms, fact-checking practices, the journalistic compromises made in the name of clickbait and the problems which occur when readers want to believe the fake news that they see. It was, as you are about to hear, a hell of a discussion.
Seeing as we’ll be back at The Big Grill festival later this summer, here’s one from last year’s adventures with the meat eaters and BBQ fiends in Dublin 4. Neil Rankin is the chef, cookbook writer and restaurant dude behind a host of great joints including Smokehouse, Temper, Pitt Cue, Bad Egg and many more. He joined us to talk about his career, from early days as a sound engineer for various bands to his current run celebrated chef and restaurant runner.
The Journal’s Aoife Barry, writer and podcaster Ellen Tannam, DJ and writer Conor Behan and senior clinical psychologist Mark Smyth joined us at Banter recently for an enthralling conversation about online behaviour. The question for our panel was just why negative comments, offensive remarks and downright nasty and abusive reactions have become the norm in our social media timelines. Our four panelists came up with some great theories and ideas about why this is so – and what can be done to change this state of affairs.
Here’s another one from our trip to The Beatyard in Dun Laoghaire last summer, a festival we’ll be revisiting in August. Prepare for Danny Wang talking life and music past, present and future in what was one of the best conversations we’ve ever had at Banter.
Seeing as we’ll be back at The Beatyard festival later this summer, here’s one from last year’s adventures by the sea in Dun Laoghaire. It’s always great to have photographers in the mix at Banter because great snappers always have great tales to tell when they put the camera down. We were joined by storied London hip-hop photographer Eddie Otchere, a man with a who’s who portfolio of hip-hop and urban music culture kingpins and queenpins to his credit and lots to say about his work.
It was a huge pleasure to welcome the mighty Alan Simms to Banter at the Shore Shots surf festival in The Model in Sligo the other month. Alan is the founder of Shine, the Belfast superclub which now takes in venues and festivals in the city, as well as venues in Dublin. This was a great conversation, starting off in Belfast of the 1980s and 1990s and leading to the city and scene of today with some fantastic yarns along the way.
For the last few years, we’ve been hugely impressed as the Foodcloud social enterprise has made great strides in helping supermarkets, producers and famers redistribute surplus food to charities. It was a great pleasure then to welcome Foodcloud co-founder Aoibheann O’Brien to the Shore Shots surf festival in The Model in Sligo the other month to hear more about this project and what their future plans are.
On Easter Monday last, we took part in the nationwide Cruinniú na Cásca event with a series of Banters in The Printworks in Dublin Castle, including this discussion on the great GAA novel. We’ve seen reams of factual books on the sports but, apart from the odd reference to togging out for a match or heading to a training session or using the parish pitch as a backdrop, Gaelic games rarely turn up in fiction, which is odd given the place which the games have in our national culture. Here, our senior hurling panel of Michael Moynihan from The Irish Examiner, writer Eimear Ryan, novelist and Morning Ireland presenter Rachael English and chief sportswriter with the Daily Star Kieran Cunningham consider why this is so – and dream up just what the great GAA novel might read like.
There are some guests we’re prepared to wait around for and we’ve been trying to get Dorothy Cross to Banter for four and a half years. The dates and schedules and stars finally aligned and the brilliant, remarkable and forthright Cork-born artist joined us at the Shore Shots surf festival in The Model in Sligo the other month. It was, as you will hear, an interview well worth waiting for.
This week, we welcome one of the most interesting politicians around to Banter. Stephen Donnelly may have billed himself as the accidental politician back when he started out in politics in 2011, but that was then and things are much different now. He joined us at Banter to speak about his life before politics, his time as an independent TD, his role with the Social Democrats, including some very candid observations about the party, and his move earlier this year to Fianna Fail.
This was one of our favourite Banter panels of recent times because of the amount of good sense on show. It’s a deep dive into the art, business, blood, sweat, tears and occasional cheers of running a restaurant in Ireland. On this occasion, we were joined by two people who certainly know all about that, namely Jess Murphy from Kai in Galway and John Farrell, the mastermind behind Dillingers, The Butchers Grill, Super Miss Sue, Luna, 777 and other ventures in Dublin. This may be most rock’n’roll and honest discussion you will hear about what it really takes to run a successful food gaff.
A lively gang joined us in Foxy John’s in Dingle for our Bringing It All Back Home panel at Other Voices where Justin Burgess from Bean In Dingle, Shane Finn from WK Fitness and Cormac Begley from Airt spoke about the business of being in business. They addressed a lot of issues during this sessions, including the obstacles they faced setting up in west Kerry, the advantages of being in business in a town like Dingle during the tourist season and life outside that same busy season.
The talk which drew the biggest crowd to the Banter tent at Bloom in the Phoenix Park last year was probably this encounter with The Happy Pear’s David and Stephen Flynn. It was the second time that we spoke to the Greystones food brothers and, though there were no handstands on this occasion, there was plenty of insights about their story to date and their views on food in Ireland in the 21st century.
It was a pleasure to welcome 3FE Coffee’s Colin Harmon to the Banter tent at the Bloom Festival in Dublin’s Phoenix Park last year. Colin is an experienced Banter hand at this state of the proceedings, but this was the first time we’ve had him for an in-depth one on one conversation about how and why he gave up a career in investment funds to dedicate himself to coffee. His move from high finance to caffeine has been a good one, as outlined in this story of his award-winning coffee, food and café business.
Everyone in Ireland has got an opinion good or bad on what our TDs do for a living, so what is it that gets these people into politics in the first place? We were joined by Kildare North TD and Social Democrats co-founder Catherine Murphy at Other Voices in Dingle, who talked about her political activism, life as a public representative, the Irish parliamentary system, new politics, the Social Democrats and making the headlines.
It’s always great when a Banter conversation goes to places you never thought they’d go and we never imagined for a moment that talking to artist Aideen Barry would lead to stories about NASA and vacuum cleaners. It was a pleasure to have Aideen with us at Other Voices in Dingle and she had loads to say about her work to date, her motivations and especially her fantastic Brittlefield retrospective.
Paul Howard is the writer who has brought us the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Ross O’Carroll-Kelly, but it was another dude who was on his mind when he joined us at Other Voices in Dingle. Paul was at Banter to talk about his new book I Read the News Today, Oh Boy about the life and times of Tara Browne, the inspiration behind The Beatles’ “A Day In the Life” and, as we found out, a colourful character who lived quite a life.