Banter at ECM Weekend (123, Nov 2015)

There’s an intriguing weekend of music and more in store at the ECM Weekend at Triskel Christchurch in Cork this coming Friday to Sunday. There’s a performance by Anna Maria Friman, John Potter, Ariel Abramovich and Jacob Heringman of lute songs written by John Paul Jones, Sting and Tony Banks as well as an appearance from Quercus with June Tabor, Iain Ballamy and Huw Warren.


There will also be screenings (including Sounds and Silence, which follows ECM label founder Manfred Eicher through recording studios, concerts, back rooms and asides while encountering Arvo Pärt, Jan Garbarek, Eleni Karaindrou, Anouar Brahem, Marilyn Mazur and others, and Arrows Into Infinity, Dorothy Darr and Jeffery Morse’s profile of Charles Lloyd) and a festival club.

Banter’s involvement with the weekend takes the form of a discussion about musical communities and connections. When Manfred Eicher set up ECM Records in Munich in the late 1960s, he established a connection between the records which represented his label and a worldwide clan of music fans who gravitated towards those releases. Whether it was the sound or the vision of those striking, idiosyncratic ECM releases, a connection was established and a reputation began to grow.

While much has changed since ECM’s early days, cultural connections, those bonds between those who make and produce and embellish and sell the music and those who fall in love with those creations, remain a invaluable albeit often intangible element. As part of the ECM Weekend, we’re joined by musician John Potter, composer Linda Buckley, Ergodos record label director Benedict Schlepper-Connolly and the Triskel’s artistic director Tony Sheehan to discuss the cultural connections which ensue when someone with a vision decides to act on that.

This discussion will take place at the Triskel Christchurch on Sunday November 29 at 2.30pm and tickets are available here.

Banter at Other Voices (125, Dec 2015)

The Banter roadshow heads to the Kingdom for Other Voices on Saturday and Sunday December 5 and 6. It’s our fourth year in a row to take over the back of Foxy John’spub in downtown Dingle for the weekend and we thank them and all at Other Voices for their patience so far. This will, I promise, be the year when we buy a pound of nails. And a new hammer.


As always, we have a great cast of characters for you to meet over the weekend with interviews and discussions about music, politics, photography, war, media, activism and film-making (some more guests to be added too).

Vince Power

If you’re looking for the man who shook up the live music business, you’ve come to the right place. The Waterford-born music promoter operated a rake of venues in London, revitalisted the festival scene by turning around the Reading and Glastonbury events (and the best Irish festival of all in the shape of Fleadh Mór in Tramre) and made a move into Europe with the Benicassim festival. We’re delighted to have Vince join us at Banter to talk about a life well lived, from working on the biscuit line at McVitie’s to promoting the biggest names in music.

Dónal Lunny

The list of acts associated with this master musician reads like a history of Irish music. Since the late 1960s, Dónal has played a pivotal role in the development and evolution of the Irish sound through his time with the likes of Planxty, The Bothy Band, Moving Hearts, Mozaik, LAPD and dozens, probably hundreds, of other collaborations, projects, releases and tours. He continues to be as prolific today as he ever was, both as a solo artist and with groups like Usher’s Island. We think it’s high time to salute the legacy of this great musician and we’re honoured that he has agreed to join us in Dingle.

Una Mullally

Una is no stranger to Banter or Other Voices – indeed, she has appeared on more Banter panels and discussions than anyone else to date – but she’s here this time to talk about herself and an extraordinary year. In 2015, the journalist, broadcaster, activist and author has been centrestage with her excellent history of the movement for marriage equality in Ireland, In the Name of Love, her role in this year’s referendum and her strong, resonant, deeply personal opinion pieces on cancer. We talk to her about all of this and much more.

Eoin Ó Broin

Eoin is a Sinn Féin councillor with South Dublin County Council and a party strategist. Ahead of the 2016 general election, Eoin joins us at Banter to talk about the rise of Sinn Féin as a political force, the party’s strengths and weaknesses, his views on the Irish left movement’s political fortunes, the changing nature of Irish activism and his insights on what will come next for the party.

Jean Curran

Jean is a Waterford-born photographic artist and photojournalist whose From Both Sides collection is a very different take on war photography which saw her take black and white photographic prints of soldiers in Afghanistan that were then painted by hand by an Afghan artist. Jean joins us to talk about what was involved in the project, embedding with the military in Afghanistan and her other projects like Neither Here Nor There, about young middle-class Malawian students moving to Ireland, and The Shoreline Cast, focusing on
Swahili fishermen working from a deserted beach near Kenya’s Jumba la Mtwana

Conor Horgan & Katie Holly

Meet the team behind The Queen of Ireland, the documentary film about Rory O’Neill, better known as Panti Bliss, in the lead-up to this year’s referendum on marriage equality. Director Conor and producer Katie join us at Banter in Dingle to talk about the motivation and process behind the critically acclaimed story about one of the stories of the year.

There will be also be music at Banter over the weekend from some fantastic acts namely Saint SisterSlow Moving CloudsHare Squead and, as has become the tradition at Banter in Dingle, some local trad maestros in the shape of Méabh Ní Bheaglaioch and Matt Griffin whose new album “Cuisle” is out now.

Review of the Year (126, Dec 2015)

There are only a couple of weeks left in 2015 so it must be time for the annual Banter Review of the Year. As we’ve done in 20092010201120122013 and 2014, we will be bringing together a number of smart folks to talk about the stories of the last 12 months which have resonated with them.


Some of our panelists have made the news in ’15, some have reported the news in ’15 and some have observed all that has happened with interest from the sidelines. It’s always one of the highlights of the Banter year, chiefly because it’s a night which reminds us of stuff that happened which we’d forgotten all about.

Banter’s Review of the Year panelKathy Sheridan (The Irish Times), Grainne Healy (co-director Yes Equality campaign), Zoë Comyns (independent radio producer and founder New Normal Culture) and Anna Walsh (MVP and World Class Irish Bartender of the Year)

The small print: Banter’s Review of the Year takes place on Wednesday December 9 at MVP, Dublin 8. Doors open 6pm, the rewinding starts at 6.30pm and tickets are available here.

Howya: the evolution of the Dublin accent (124, Dec 2015)

Just what does Dublin sound sound like? In 2015, there’s a wide range of accents classifiable as the Dublin accent depending on which part of the city or county you happen to be in. We know the ones which are the stuff of caricature and mimic but there’s more to this than just Ross O’Carroll Kelly and Love/Hate.

Over the years, the Dublin accent – as well as the city’s slang, language and lexicon – has changed and morphed numerous times. Be it on the streets, the stage or the screen, what passes for what we hear around us in the the city in 2015 is a lot different to what it was 20 years ago or even in the rare aul’ times.


For this Banter, we’re looking at how these changes happened, the influences on accents, the unique confluence of events which have made Dublin accents turn out the way they have, the effect of various geographical divides on the dialect and just what the city might sound like a few years from now.

The Banter panel: Jenny Keogh (photographer, film-maker and director of Story Bud?), Aoife Dooley (Dublin Hun creator and illustrator) and Sophie Gorman (journalist, editor and critic).


The small print: Banter on the evolution of the Dublin accent takes place at MVP (Upper Clanbrassil St., Dublin) on Wednesday December 2. Doors open at
6pm and we’ll kick off at 6.30pm. Tickets are available here

An evening with Brand New Retro (122, Nov 2015)

If you’re interested in Irish pop culture, you will already have come across Brand New Retro. Since 2011, the site founded by Brian “Doug” McMahon has curated and digitised thousands of images, articles and adverts from an ever-growing archive of vintage magazines and publications from the pre-internet age. Along the way, it has dusted off a fascinating throve of unlikely nuggets (it doesn’t get more unlikely than a Gay Byrne column in the Sunday World on Stiff Little Fingers) to present sides of Irish life which have never seen the light of a screen or scanner in years.


To co-incide with the publication of a new book featuring the greatest hits from the site and new discoveries, the Brand New Retro team – Brian “Doug” McMahonJoe Collinsand Sinead Kenny – will join us at Banter to talk about the motivation behind the site, the discoveries they have made about the early years of Irish pop culture, the evolution of Irish magazine and advertising design and the changes in how media has covered pop culture over the decades.

Banter’s evening with Brand New Retro takes place at MVP (Upper Clanbrassil St., Dublin 8 ) on Wednesday November 25. Doors open at 6pm and the conversation begins at 6.30pm. Tickets are available here.

The Brand New Retro book is published by Liberties Press and goes on sale in November. Copies of the book will be on sale at Banter on the night.

Banter at The Back Page (121, Nov 2015)

Banter heads to The Back Page in November for two nights of sports talks to celebrate the first year of good times at the Dublin 7 venue.


A conversation with John Leonard will take place on Thursday November 19. Dub-Sub Confidential is John’s vivid, witty and searingly honest story of his life on and off the Gaelic football pitch. He was a talented goalkeeper who had the misfortune to reach his prime at the same time, and in the same county, as Stephen Cluxton. Unless something happened to Cluxton, Leonard was always going to be number two in the pecking order. Of course, it didn’t help that Leonard had a problem with drink and drugs….


A GAA memoir like no other on the book shelf this year, Dub Sub Confidential is about how Gaelic games collide with real life. A tale of what goes on in the dressing-room and on the training pitch when you’re part of the GAA’s biggest circus – and what happens when you come out the other side after partying hard as well as training hard for many years.

Our second Banter at The Back Page is Meet the Ghostwriters on Friday November 20 when Vincent Hogan joins us to talk about the art of sports ghostwriting.


We’ll talk to him about the trials, tribulations and, yes, triumphs of writing someone else’s story from their point of view. What are the difficulties involved in getting inside someone head when they might not actually want you to be there? How easy is it to know when to pull back as well as push forward? What are the gigs these ghosts would love to do – and what are the ones they’d run a million miles from. What’s the secret of building a relationship with your subject? And what happens when the book is published and you’re pushed out of the picture?

Doors open both nights at 6.30pm, each event starts at 7pm and admission is free.

Banter at Savour Kilkenny (119, Oct 2015)

We’re heading back to Savour Kilkenny for the second year in a row. The festival is celebrating its ninth year on the go over the bank holiday weekend with an action-packed programme of cooking demonstrations from folks like Neven MaguireRory O’ConnellThe Happy PearArun Kapil and Mark Moriarty, tastings, interviews and other events in the city. It all kicks off tonight with Bressie talking about mental health and food11990537_10153646573020522_4478654517874726157_n

Banter will be hosting a number panels over the weekend, all in the KLP Marquee on The Parade in the middle of the city. Here’s the line-up for the weekend.

Saturday October 24

Battle of the Bottle: Beer vs Wine (noon)

What goes best with food? Beer and cider aficionados would say local beer and ciders, while Wine pros would argue that wine is the better match. There’s only one way of finding out with tastings of local food, each matched with a particular beer or cider and a wine. Le Caveau’s Colm McCan and Pascal Rossignol talk wine, Sláinte author Caroline Hennessy counters with beer and cider and you decide who is right by voting with your glasses.

What’s in your shopping basket? (2.30pm)

When it comes to knowing where our food comes from, we all talk the talk about provenance and organics, but it’s a much different matter when it comes to what we put in our shopping baskets. The notion of buying local food is all very well until your food budget and the ease of convenience come into the picture. We’ll talk to Sarah Duggan (Little Green Grocer Shop), Keith Bohanna (Bia Beag), Mairead Lavey (Farmers Journal and editor of Irish Country Living) and Ken Ecock (OceanpathDunns Seafare) about what’s on and off the shopping list.

What’s so super about superfoods? (4.30pm)

The world of food likes its fancy names and packaging so it’s no surprise to see a palaver over superfoods. On the one hand, you will have folks who dismiss the whole idea as marketing and hype notions. On the other hand, there are folks who swear that goji berries, kelp, raspberries, spinach, oysters, walnuts and green tea will make you healthier, smarter and more energetic. So what exactly is going on here? Is eating a handful of antioxidant-rich acai berries better for you than an apple? Who’s right and who’s wrong? Our panel are Frances Walsh (The Honest Project), Caroline Seale (Discover Nutrition) and Colin Jephson (Ardkeen Quality Food Store)

Sunday October 25

Yes Chef! (noon)

What really happens when you go beyond the pass in an award-winning, critically acclaimed or commercially savvy kitchen? Why would someone choose the life of a chef as a career? Is it all it’s cracked up to be? What are the talents you need to be a chef in a high-pressure environment? We talk to Declan Furlong, Colin Greensmith (Pallas Foods) and Blathnaid Bergin (The Restaurant Advisor) about life as a chef.

All about coffee with Canteen (2.30pm)

Dalton Greene and Paul Williams from Canteen in Limerick join us for a hyper-caffeinated presentation on coffee, from explaining the process from seed to cup and the art of coffee tasting to matching coffee to food and brewing better coffee at home.

Sustainability challenges for Irish farmers (4.30pm)

Just what wil Irish farming may look like in the years to come? What are the issues which will be of concern to the farming sector – and what is being done now about these? Will we still be exporting beef and milk to the Chinese? Will sustainable farming have moved from the to-do list? And will the same crops still be growing in the fields around Kilkenny or are there changes ahead in the tillage sector too? Our panel answering some of those questions: Tommy Cooke (farmer, Teagasc board memmber and member of the national council of ICMSA), Rod Calder-Potts (Highbank Organic Orchards & Farm), Patrick Lydon (Camphill Callan) and Mag Kirwan (Goatsbridge Trout Farm).

A conversation with Neil Strauss (120, Oct 2015)

A decade on from The Game, writer Neil Strauss is back in the writing-about-the-other-sex business, but much has changed in the meantime. His new book The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships is about what happens when a dude who’s all for freedom, sex and opportunity meets a woman he’s prepared to have a long-term life with.


The Truth is about faithfulness, monogamy, sex addiction clinics, harems, alternative relationships and his own mother and family. It’s a case of goodbye Styles, hello the truth

The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships is published by Canongate on October 13

Banter conversation with Neil Strauss takes place at MVP (Clanbrassil St., Dublin 8.) on Tuesday October 27. Doors open at 6pm, the conversation begins at 6.30pm and tickets can be booked here.

A conversation with Jessica Hopper (118, Oct 2015)

Jessica Hopper is coming to town for Hard Working Class Heroes 2015. The Chicago-based music and culture writer is a senior editor at Pitchfork and editor-in-chief of The Pitchfork Review.


Her latest book, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic(Featerproof Books), presents a snapshot of her 20 years to date in the critic business with ace pieces on R Kelly, Lana Del Rey and Hole, ruminations on the visceral excitement of riot grrrl and a poke around the emo movement’s problem with women. In our book, she really is one of the finest writers in the game – and she’s also got a hell of a lot of powerful, passionate good sense to make about sexism in the music business, as this recent hugely acclaimed keynote from the BIGSOUND conference in Brisbane shows.

Aside from her appearance on a panel about music journalism at HWCH Convention on Saturday October 3, Jessica will also be taking part in an one-on-one Banterconversation with myself, as well as reading from her recent book, at the HWCH Box office, Green Party Pop Up Shop, 90 South Great Georges St., Dublin 2 on Sunday October 4. I don’t know about Jessica, but it will definitely be the first interview I’ve done in a former dry cleaners and launderette. Doors for this all-ages event open at 5.30pm and the interview kicks off at 6pm. Admission is free, but is on a strictly first come first served basis.

A journey through Dublin’s gay clubland (117, Oct 2015)

Over the last couple of years at Banter, we’ve returned again and again to a few different themes. One of these regular threads has to do with the past, present and future of Dublin club culture and we’ve had a couple of lively nights out already as we’ve discussed and disected this one.

To co-incide with a screening of the Paris Is Burning documentary next month, we’ll be talking to a couple of scene observers about the changing nature of Dublin’s gay clubland over the last couple of decades and what might come next. Tonie WalshWill St LegerConor Behan and Mimi Rouge will join us for a journey from Flikkers, Sides and Shaft to PowerbubbleHorny Organ TribeGag and Ham and onto Mother and The George with a few diversions along the way.

Apart from the Banter discussion and the screening, there will also be a 1970s and 1980s New York City themed party afterwards with Billy ScurryKelly-Anne ByrneLouis ScullyGreg & Russell and friends spunning the lushest disco records all night long. Brought to you by Discotekken and This Greedy Pig, it’s a night for those who dig disco, drag, fashion, house music, nightlife history, equality, film and design.

Details: the Paris Is Burning/Banter/NYC Disco Party takes place at the Sugar Club on Saturday October 3 from 8pm. Tickets are available here for €12. A special, handmade letterpress Paris Is Burning print will be given to the first 100 people on the night and €1 from every ticket sold will be donated to BelongTo

What’s the story with podcasts? (116, Sep 2015)

It’s becoming something of a new golden age for podcasts. After an initial splash a decade or so ago, podcasts are now attracting a lot more attention from listeners keen to find something new to hear. The fact that anyone with a microphone and internet access can become a podcaster means many new voices and ideas have emerged. Even with traditional radio stations doing their best to dominate the scene and the iTunes charts, there’s still plenty of room for fresh shows


For this Banter discussion, we’ve gathered together four Irish podcasters to discuss why podcasts have suddenly jumped to the top of everyone’s favourites’ list, what it takes to get it right, the future for their own podcasts, the fact that you don’t need to be a broadcaster to create compelling podcasts, the future for podcasting from where they’re sitting and other assorted matters.

The Banter podcastersKen Early (Second Captains), Lisa Farrelly (Abbey Talks), Andrew Mangan (Castaway Media) and Roisin Ingle (The Irish Times)

Programme notes: Banter on podcasts will take place at MVP (Clanbrassil St., Dublin) on Thursday September 24. Doors open at 6pm, the Bantering starts at 6.30pm and there will be an audience Q&A afterwards. Tickets can be booked here.

Want to learn about managing creativity?

We’ve done many diverse things over the last couple of years with Banter and there’s always room for more. I was approached by the Irish Writers Centre a few months ago about collaborating on a project and the forthcoming Managing Creativity course is a result of this conversation.


It’s intended to provide leads and advice for writers, artists and arts managers in what to do once the work is finished and ready for the public. In many ways, finishing the work is just the start of the creative process and it can be just as challenging to distribute your work and ensure it receives the exposure and profile you’d like it to receive.

Starting on Monday October 5 and running for eight weeks, this seminar series will give participants a grounding in some of the key skills around managing, selling and marketing your own creative projects. Over the course of eight weeks, various guest experts will discuss such topics as setting up one-off events, the ins and outs of festivals, marketing, social media, funding, print projects, business affairs and dealing with taxes.

More information from the Irish Writers Centre.

Banter at The Big Grill (115, Aug 2015)

The Big Grill debuted in Herbert Park in Dublin 4 last year and welcomed a lot of BBQ and craft beer fans to the leafy suburbs with a feast of meat, a bunch of ale and a lot of smoke. The festival returns to Ballsbridge this month with a lot of extras and one of these is Banter. After a summer where we’ve done our thing at various festivals up and down the country, the well travelled and highly seasoned series of public talks, conversations and interviews will be live in a tent in Herbert Park for the weekend


On the menu: four days of prime-time discussions, heated conversations and entertaining panels featuring grilling experts and opinionated folks to talk about a whole bunch of issues.

Thursday Aug 13

7.15pm: The opening shout

We set the scene for the weekend with DJ BBQ (BBQ evangalist and broadcaster), Andre de Luca (the main man at Boss BBQ, Sao Paulo), Catherine Cleary (resturant reviewer at The Irish Times), Aoife McElwain (Forkful) and guests talking turkey (and beef, pork and chicken) about food, drink and everything else.

Friday Aug 13

7.15pm: A round with Tyson

Tyson Ho is the proprietor and pitmaster at the Arrogant Swine, an American beer hall specializing in old-school North Carolina whole hog BBQ located in Bushwick, Brooklyn. We find out more about the man who swapped careers in fine dining and finance to become the pastor at the church of pork.

Saturday Aug 14

2pm: The History of BBQ

DJ BBQ rewinds the tapes to tell the story of how BBQ became so darn popular

3.30pm: The rise and rise of fast casual

It’s the new sweet spot, that point between fast food and full table service which is gathering all the plaudits and, more importantly, punters at present. We talk to Tom Gleeson (Bunsen Burger), Kellie Hasbury (Grillstock) and Barry McNerney (JuniorsPaulie’s PizzaThe Old SpotLotts & Co) about the unstoppable rise of the fast casual gaffs.

5.00pm: The drinks revolution

We’ve had the craft beer movement – and the crafty beer reaction from the big breweries – we’ve had the signature whiskey buzz, we’ve had the cocktail revival and we’ve got prosecco and cava bubbles everywhere. So what’s next? We kick back and talk to new school drinks connoisseurs Cameron Wallace (Eight Degrees), Caroline Hennessy (journalist, broadcaster and co-author of “Sláinte – The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider”), Kevin Hurley (global ambassador Teeling Whiskey) and Dave Morrissey (The PortherhouseDingle Whiskey) about what they see on the horizon.

Sunday Aug 15

2pm: The business of BBQ

Can I give up my job in the morning and start smoking? Advice about the big jump from DJ BBQ, John Relihan (Duagh BBQ Festival), Oliver Byrne (Bison and Group Executive Chef Press Up Entertainment Group), Matt Williams (Oxford Charcoal Company) and Donal Cahill (My Meat Wagon)

3.30pm: How food festivals became the new rock’n’roll

The Big Grill is just one of a plethora of food festivals which are taking place in Ireland in 2015 and that’s before we look at all the the fests which have food as one of the chief attractions. Just what is behind this trend? We look at the growth, the motivations behind them, the patterns and the future of food festivals with Rebecca Cronin (Ballymaloe Litfest), Ger Mullally (Savour Kilkenny), Ketty Elizabeth (French Foodie In Dublin) and Samuel Bishop (Street Feast Ireland)

4.30pm: Food & music

We close our weekend at The Big Grill with a dive into the Venn diagram between food and music with Levi RootsBilly Scurry and DJ Yoda talking about their love affair with food and why so many musicians have a blast when it comes to grub

Full information on The Big Grill’s other attractions here.

Banter with Kevin Barry at Make A Move (114, July 2015)

Limerick’s Make A Move community arts festival has become one of our favourite summer stop-offs for the Banter bandwagon. We were there for the first one in 2012 when we discussed the state of Irish hip-hop and we were back last year with a very robust panel on the challenges around Limerick’s year in the spotlight as City of Culture.

Thanks to Shane MacCurtain and the Make A Move team, we head back to Limerick for a conversation with Kevin Barry on Saturday July 4th. The Limerick-born writer has been on our wish-list for ages so it’s brilliant to have the chance to talk to him about his work to date, his hit-rate when it comes to literary awards, the fabulous “City of Bohane”, the forthcoming “Beatlebone”, a novel about John Lennon’s imagined journey to the west coast of Ireland in 1978, and his return to the “quare place” for a sequel to “City of Bohane”. We’ll also find out if he misses the aul’ freelance journalism game in any way, shape or form (that’s probably a no).


Banter’s conversation with Kevin Barry takes place at the Shannon Rowing Club on Saturday July 4th at 2pm. Admission will be €5 and tickets will be available at the door.

This year, Make A Move will be highlighting the work of many other artists who live and are from the city who will be releasing new work in the coming months. Besides Banter with Kevin Barry, there will also be appearances from Deviant and Naive Ted, a new project featuring the production work of Hsuan Records’ boss Graeme S, local crew Same D4ence and a concert featuring the best of the city’s under-age talent. The fantastic Rusangano Family play their only Limerick gig of the summer and will be joined on stage by various guests. There will also some major dance events and street art projects with a difference, both very much tied up with young people’s creative responses to their own areas, and workshops all week in music, dance and street art.

A conversation with Brendan Canty (113, June 2015)

Eventbrite’s Do Business Better series pulls up to the bumper at Cork’s Opera House from June 9 to 11 with folks from various businesses like Ballymaloe HouseHeineken, the Blacks of Kinsale brewery and others talking about how to do better business.

Banter’s contribution to the series is a conversation with Brendan Canty, the director, film-maker and editor at Feel Good Lost, about the business of art and creativity.


Feel Good Lost is a multi-discipline creative company that creates cutting edge film, art and music, manages acts and develops new and exciting music talent. Brendan and the Cork-based company have worked on music videos (such as Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” – 209 million views and rising), visuals, record releases, corporate branding (Gas Networks Ireland) and much more.

Clients include such entitles as Virgin EMI, Interscope Records, Island Records, Sony Music and Domino Records, and Feel Good Lost have showcased their work at such festivals as the Athens Video Art Festival, Iceland Airwaves, Longitude, Body & Soul and Electric Picnic.

The conversation takes place on Thursday June 11 at 6.30pm at the Opera House. Admission is free and tickets can be booked in advance here.

Banter at Bloom 2015 (112, May 2015)

It’s Bloom time at the Phoenix Park over the June bank holiday weekend and there’s a new addition to the bill of fare at Ireland’s biggest festival this year in the shape of Banter. Our well-travelled series of talks, conversations and discussions will be taking up residence in a tent in the middle of the Food Village (tent number 25 on this map to be exact) for a series of lively, wide-ranging discussions on Saturday May 30, Sunday May 31 and Monday June 1.


We’ll be joined by panelists and experts from the worlds of food, farming, gardening and the media to talk about such topics as rural Ireland, the food of the future, farm safety, the weather, bees, charities, hospital food, community shops, gardening for beginners and how exactly you run a huge festival like Bloom for 100,000 people.

Here, then, is the full schedule for Banter at Bloom 2015


Rural Ireland rules OK (11am)

Damien O’Reilly from RTE Radio One’s CountryWideMairead Lavery from the Farmers Journal and editor of Irish Country Living and Pat Lalor (Ballad Organic Farm and KIlbeggan Organic Foods) discuss many of the issues which rural Ireland faces at the moment.

Gardening for the soul (noon)

Award winning garden designer, author and broadcaster Fiann Ó Nualláin on how you can find remedies for ailments and source for beauty treatments in your garden

The food of tomorrow (1.30pm)

What will the next generation be eating? Just how important will nutrition and health be when it comes to the food of the future? Or will convenience and price be what dictates what we eat and drink? Join Adrian Martin (Chef Adrian) and David and Stephen Flynn from the Happy Pear as they make some predictions about the food of tomorrow.

The A to Z of Bloom (2.30pm)

Bloom show manager Gary Graham takes a break from his hectic schedule to talk to Banter about what’s involved in putting on the biggest show in town.

The weather forecast (3.30pm)

The most important topic of conversation in Ireland every day of the week? That would be the weather. We’re joined by Evelyn Cusack, RTE weather presenter and Deputy Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann; and Damian Corless, author of Looks Like Rain – 9000 Years of Irish Weather, to talk about the myths and the science of reading the Irish weather.

Charity begins at home (4.30pm)

We all know that the Irish people are very generous when it comes to charity donations. Despite this, there is a constant need by the charities themselves to fundraise and maintain their profile. We’ll talk to Aidan Stacey (head of fundraising atGOAL), Joan Freeman (founder of Pieta House) and Marian Carroll (CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charity) about the current lie of the land in the charity sector


Watch the sky (11am)

There are more and more people looking towards the sky and listening carefully to what’s happening in their gardens as interest in bird-watching grows and grows. We’re joined by Niall Hatch from Birdwatch Ireland and Richard Collins from the RTE Radio One Mooney Goes Wild team to talk about the phenomenon and to give advice to newcomers to the twitching game.

The business of food (noon)

The County Choice deli and café opened in Nenagh in 1982 and the Burren Smokehouse business opened in Co Clare in 1989. Many years later in a much different Ireland, both are still in business and still growing. We talk to Peter Ward from Country Choice and Birgitta Curtin from Burren Smokehouse about the changing environment for an Irish food business.

A conversation with Neven Maguire (1.30pm)

The chef talks frankly about food, kitchens, restaurants, the TV business, cooking for babies and kids and keeping high standards in Blacklion.

Oliver Dunne’s hospital food (2.30pm)

In recent months, chef and owner of Michelin star restaurant Bon Appetit and Cleaver EastOliver Dunne has been engaged in a campaign to improve the food available in our hospital wards. He joins us at Banter to talk about the reasons for his activism.

Why we need more community shops (3.30pm)

With more and more villages throughout the country now without a local shop, a campaign is underway to change this and bring back a place to go for the messages. Declan Rice from the Kilkenny LEADER Partnership Company talks about what’s involved in putting together a network of community-run shops and cafés in rural Ireland.

Farming in Ireland in 2015 (4.30pm)

The view of the land from the Banter tent with panelists Darragh McCullough (Ear to the Ground, deputy farming editor Irish Independent), Richard Moeran (chairman Agri Aware) and John Lynskey (Chairman of the IFA National Sheep Committee). What are the issues which are causing Irish farmers to fret – or now that milk quotas have been abolished, is everything rosey in the garden? What are the big issues like farm safety which farmers should be thinking about? How should issues like farm size, price volatility, the ageing population of farmers and farm viability be tackled? Does the will to tackle these issues exist at individual and collective levels? Where do we see farming going in the next five to 10 years?


The joy of veg (11am)

Keen gardeners Aine Lawlor (RTE Radio One and RTE TV), Dee Sewell (Greenside Up horticulturist) and others dig in with stories and advice from their gardens and allotments for new gardeners and those keen to get growing.

Bloom in Transition (noon)

Bloom regular Fiann Ó Nualláin talks about his project at this year’s festival featuring gardens put together with transition year students from Ashton School in Cork and Collinstown Park Community College in Clondalkin. We’ll also hear from Collinstown students Luke Rothwell and James Adair.

The Origin Green story (1.30pm)

Origin Green is a very big deal, the only sustainability programme in the world operating on a national scale and bringing together government, the private sector and food producers. We’re joined by Aidan Cotter (Bord Bia CEO), Alan Kingston (Glenilen Farm) and Patrick Rooney (Derrycama Farm)  to discuss how the scheme works and the plans to ensure all of Ireland’s food and drink exports are on the road to sustainability in the next 12 months.

Bloom Fringe (2.30pm)

Bloom is now more than just about what’s happening in the Phoenix Park. Marion Keogh and Esther Gerrard talk about the onwards and upwards growth of Bloom Fringe and its array of bright ideas, workshops, talks, installations, pop-ups, art and demos on the streets of the capital.

Free the bees (3.30pm)

Beekeeper Stuart Hayes talks to us about what’s happening to the world’s population of bees – and just why honey has become so expensive on our shop shelves.

Tickets for Bloom 2015 are on sale here.

Reviewing the reviews (111, May 2015)

We’re going to describe a scene which probably happened to you last week or weekend. You and your pals are planning a night out and want to go to a decent pub or restaurant so you naturally turn to your social media network for the skinny on what’s good and what’s not. But as we’ve seen from tales of false or misleading reviews, you can’t always take what you read on TripAdvisorTwitterFacebook or Yelp as gospel (or even see on Instagram) – indeed, we know that false and misleading reviews can be positive as well as negative.13711-food_newsSo just what is the value of social media reviews for the hospitality business? How do restaurant owners deal with demands from bloggers and social media activists for free meals in return for good reviews? Just how prevalent is this practice? Or does the fact that everyone can be a critic with a potentially big public reach mean the customer has a real voice and can keep venues on top of their game?

The panel: Niall Harbison (Lovin Dublin founder), Emily Cunnane (senior community manager at Yelp) and Leo Molloy (777, SuperMissSue etc)

The details: Banter’s review of the reviews and the reviewers takes place at MVP (Clanbrassil Street, Dublin 8 ) on Wednesday May 27 at 6.30pm. Admission is free, but tickets are limited and can be booked here.

Living for the City: the future of food shopping (110, May 2015)

Where do you go to buy your food? From huge supermarkets and the corner store to the farmers’ markets and specialist shops, there has never been a time with a more varied and diverse number of outlets selling food. You may think that we won’t see many more changes in the sector, but people were probably saying that a decade or more ago when the first out-of-town supermarkets began to appear. Like most business sectors, change is everything here.


We’ve gathered together a number of experts involved in the business of selling food to talk to them about what they think is going to happen in the sector in the coming years. Is it going to be all about price and the growth of discount retailers or will shoppers begin to look for something other than cheap cheese and salami? What are the trends which key players are noticing here and how do they see these developing?

Has the Irish shopper gone completely promiscuous when it comes to buying food or are they still capable of loyalty? Will the economic bounce mean a change in our consumer habits? Will smaller spaces trump hypermarkets even for the multiples? What’s the role of technology going to be in how we shop for grubs? What about provenence and organics? And what about the kids – how will Generation Z shop for food?

The panelHenry Dummer (director of marketing Tesco), Rachel Firth (general manager Fallon & Byrne), Joe Doyle (founder Donnybrook Fair) and Norman Rides (general manager Dublin Food Co-Op)

The details: Banter on the future of food shopping takes place at the Twisted Pepper (Middle Abbey St., Dublin 1) on Wednesday May 20. Doors open at 6pm and the discussion begins at 6.30pm. Tickets are available here (please note the event is now sold out).

This event is part of Living for the City, Banter’s ongoing series of discussions about living, working and playing in Dublin in the 21st century. To date, this has featured discussions on transporthousingimmigrationmediaalternative spacescreativityand cafes.

Banter at Ballymaloe LitFest (109, May 2015)

It’s set to be a very busy summer for Banter on the festival circuit with events to come at Bloom in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on the June bank holiday weekend, Make A Move in Limerick in July and The Big Grill in Dublin’s Herbert Park in August.

We are delighted to kick off the season of festival shenanigans with a trip to Co Cork for the Ballymaloe LitFest next month. You’ll find Banter in the Garden Tent on Saturday May 16 and 17 where we’ll be hosting four panels in all


The sweetest touch: food writer, author and former Chez Panisse pastry guru David Lebovitz adds sugar to the mix in a tale of desserts, puddings and afters

The GIY manifesto: a conversation with Michael Kelly about how he’s grown the GIY Ireland movement

So you want to start a food business?: Leon co-founder Allegra McEvedySarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich from Honey and Co and Arun Kapil from Green Saffron on the lessons they’ve learned from their start-ups

The best meal I’ve ever had: a bunch of Ballymaloe speakers wax lyrical about the best meal they’ve ever had

Banter will share the Garden Tent space with Joe McNamee’s Rants, Raves and Ruaille BuailleCaroline Hennessy’s Cookbook Chronicles, readings by David Murphy and Raymond Blake and a Questions & Answers Food Special with John Bowman and guests. You’ll find the full schedule for the Garden Tent here.

Meanwhile, the full schedule for the LitFest features all manner of food and drink speakers, talkers, makers and do-ers including Alice WatersJack MonroeKevin Thornton and dozens, nay hundreds, more. Full programme here.

An evening with Matthew E White (108, May 2015)

There was no Irish date on Matthew E White’s current European tour until now.Banter is proud to present an evening of words and music with White on Monday May 4th at the Twisted Pepper, Dublin 1.

matthew e white

In the space of two albums – 2012′s thrilling “Big Inner” and this year’s magnificent follow-up “Fresh Blood” – the man from Richmond, Virginia has cast many spells and whipped up many storms with a beguiling, rich blend of sounds and stirrings. It’s music with an old soul delivered in new shapes with the kind of infectious groove at the heart of the matter which can win all comers over.

Aside from those two damn fine records (and a whole host of worldwide touring), White and his pals in Richmond established the Spacebomb collective, label and studio to turn the tunes of songwriters they liked into grandiose, graceful, powerful statements. Anyone who has lent an ear to this year’s fine debut from Natalie Prasswill know they’re on the right track with that mission.

White brings his current European tour to a close with a visit to Dublin for an evening of conversation and solo performance at the Twisted Pepper. Doors open at 6pm, the event starts at 6.30pm and limited tickets are now on sale (please note the event is now sold out)