Arts Column with Conor Malone 31.03.16

Arts Column with Conor Malone 31.03.16

Goats Don't Shave play Smugglers on Arranmore and the Balor this weekend

This Weeks Highlights

The students of Encore Performing Arts Academy begin a three night run of High School Musical at The Alley, Strabane tonight (Thursday March 31st). It’s there until Saturday April 2nd.

Left Behind – Songs of the 1916 Widows honours and remembers the heroic women of 1916 at An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny tomorrow (Friday). Also tomorrow Goats Don’t Shave play Smugglers on Arranmore and the Goats are back on the mainland on Saturday April 2nd with a gig at The Balor, Ballybofey.

There’s another great gig this coming Tuesday when Ushers Island play An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny. Tuesday is also the opening night of the Colin Bateman penned Bag For Life at The Playhouse in Derry – it has a five night run there ending on Saturday April 9th.

Finally, a new comedy Whatever You Say Say Nothing opens for a four night run (Wednesday April 6th to Saturday April 9th) at The Millennium Forum, Derry.

Ushers Island

One of the highlights of last year's Letterkenny Trad week was the debut of the latest Irish Traditional supergroup Ushers Island who played at the Regional Cultural Centre.

The band unites two generations of trailblazing Irish traditional musicians with (relatively) young guns guitarist John Doyle and Mike Mcgoldrick (flute, low whistle, uileann pipes) joining the more – ahem! – venerable trio of Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine and Paddy Glackin.

It’s a band that has links to just about every traditional Irish band and, indeed, traditional Irish musician from the ‘70’s on – Planxty, The Bothy Band, Moving Hearts etc. Donal and Andy in particular have form for this kind of collaborative fusion, as anyone who’s enjoyed a Mozaik or LAPD gig will tell you.

It’s a line up that oozes talent and pedigree. Ushers Island sold out the relatively small capacity RCC in January 2015 so their return to Letterkenny will see them grace the stage of the larger An Grianan Theatre. I’d still book tickets well in advance if I were you though – this is the kind of line up that could sell very well and you really don’t want to be disappointed.

Ushers Island play An Grianan Theatre Letterkenny on Tuesday April 5th at 8pm. Tickets are €20 and there’s a special offer of 4 for €70. For bookings and more information contact An Grianan on 0749120777 or look online at

Island Goats

I wrote last week about this Saturday's upcoming Goats Don’t Shave gig at The Balor. What I neglected to mention – through ignorance rather than favouritism – was that the Goats have a second Donegal gig this weekend.

Tomorrow (Friday April 1st) is the first stop on the tour to celebrate the release of the new album “The Turf Mans Blues” and Smugglers on Arranmore is the location. It’s €10 on the door and the lads are on stage at 10pm. There’s a late ferry returning back to Burtonport after the gig, although I’d imagine it’d be far better craic staying on the island for the nigh

Assuming the lads get off Arranmore safely – let’s face it, we’ve all gone to Arranmore for ‘the night’ only to go AWOL for a few days – they’ll be at The Balor in Ballybofey on Saturday April 2nd. As I write this, there’s only a handful of tickets left, so it’s safe to say The Balor will be sold out. Always worth checking with the box office for late cancellations etc – 0749131840 is the number.

The new album is a cracker, by the way – I’m sure it’ll be on sale at both gigs. If you can’t make either night and want to get your hands on a copy, check out the bands website

Goats Don’t Shave play Smugglers on Arranmore on Friday April 1st at 10pm admission €10 on the door. They’re at The Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey the following night Saturday April 2nd at 8.30pm. Tickets priced €15 are available from the Balor Box Office – 0749131840 – or online at

Widows Tunes

For those of you that aren’t all Easter Rising-ed out, the third and final 1916 event at An Grianan (following on from last week's very enjoyable Under An Irish Sky and The Rising) takes place tomorrow night (Friday April 1st). Left Behind: Songs of the 1916 Widows is a collection of songs drawing on the experiences of women closely connected to the conflict.

Written by composer and curator Simon O’Connor and commissioned and presented by vocalist Michelle O Rourke, this new collection of songs marks the centenary of 1916 by bringing a dramatic energy to the retelling of the stories of the likes of Lillie Connolly, Grace and Muriel Gifford, Agnes Mallin and many others.

Drawing inspiration from the women of the conflict including the wives of prominent rebel leaders, O’Rourke and O’Connor have created a suite of compositions that offer an emotional, human perspective on a narrative that has too often been told in baldly male heroic terms.

The songs in the repertoire may have begun life as simple vocal/piano pieces but they’ve been embellished and transformed with the addition of O’Connor’s former bandmates from celebrated Dublin rock band The Jimmy Cake (if you haven’t heard of The Jimmy Cake, you should go and check them out – they’re really quite good).

Left Behind: Songs of the 1916 Widows is on in An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny tomorrow night Friday April 1st at 8pm. Tickets are priced at €15 (€12 concession) available from An Grianan on 0749120777 or online at