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Spin & Marseille: French TV does politics in vivid technicolour

April 5, 2017


Spin 2

Grégory Fitoussi (left) and Bruno Walkowitch in More 4’s French political drama Spin

In this, the year that France goes to the polls to elect a President amid the meltdown of the left and the rise of the right, you could do worse than watch two Gallic TV shows to learn about the ideological minefield that is French politics.

Spin, which was first broadcast in 2012, and Marseille (2016), Netflix’s first foreign language production, illustrate the shifting loyalties and corruption that appear to be more nakedly evident in French politics than most other places. Read more…


Damien Dempsey: The poet laureate of Ireland’s forgotten

October 25, 2016

Damien Dempsey beats his chest and exhorts you to feel the pain and love he feels

I’m very grateful that a version of this review appeared on the brilliant Liverpool music website Get Into This. They are great supporters of live music and music writing in the city.

DAMIEN Dempsey is a big, bruising boxer with the beautiful heart of a poet.

He’s a modern bard who links the historic ballad tradition in Irish folk music to a youth culture equally at home with hip-hop, reggae and rave.

He is a genuine one-of-a-kind: a sympathetic, ruggedly sentimental singer songwriter who has managed to make folk music relevant again in an Ireland ravaged by the negative aspects of globalization and corporate greed.

On Sunday evening in the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Rooms, amid the dancing bodies and the throaty communal football chants of “Damo! Damo! Damo!”, he was the perfect closing act for the 2016 Liverpool Irish Festival. Read more…

PODCAST: Ian Lynch of Lynched – the best folk band working anywhere today

October 12, 2016

Lynched are an absolutely spellbinding folk band who have gained plaudits for their album Cold Old Fire, a remarkable mixture of old Dublin music hall songs, traditional ballads and original compositions.

Coming from a punk tradition, they found folk music later than many, but it hasn’t held them back and as a live act, they are almost without compare.

I spoke to Ian Lynch about how the band started, their repertoire of songs and the new traditional scene in Ireland today.

Lynched appear at the 2016 Liverpool Irish Festival on Sunday, October 16 in the Philharmonic Music Rooms. Tickets and further details available here.

PODCAST: Linda Ervine on learning Irish as a Northern Protestant and her film What the Focal!

October 12, 2016

I recorded this podcast with the brilliant Linda Ervine prior to a screening of her film What the Focal! at the 2016 Liverpool Irish Festival.

With heavy autobiographical overtones, What the Focal! follows the life of Maggie, a Northern Irish Protestant who decides to learn Irish against the wishes of her husband and community.

She appears at St Michael’s Irish Centre, Boundary Lane, Liverpool on Wednesday, October 20 at 8pm. Full details here.

New European Identities

October 12, 2016

This is the piece that I wrote for the New European about forms of national and regionalist identity in Europe.

View this document on Scribd

Liverpool and Brexit

October 12, 2016

A piece that I wrote for the New European about what Brexit might mean to Liverpool and the Merseyside region.


Michaél Ó Muircheartaigh: A tribute in text and sound

September 15, 2016

(This piece was first written and published in 2010.)

IN THIS era of wall-to-wall sport coverage, where every hack commentator turns to the US or wherever for a gimmick to set them apart in a crowded market, one man (and one voice) has set himself apart – Michaél Ó Muircheartaigh.
A Kerry man who has been one of the key voices of Irish GAA sports on RTE radio since 1949, he has, mercifully, never been one to let his own opinions intrude in the key job of a radio commentator – vividly describing a match for those who can’t get to see it.
While British soccer commentators are seemingly in thrall to imparting their own op-ed opinions on what is going on – step forward Alan Green, no cares what you think, you boor – Ó Muircheartaigh, 80, has established himself as a real time storyteller and, if I may be excused a cliché, a painter with words. Read more…



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