Our contributor Don O'Mahony selects his entertainment highlights of the year

Our contributor Don O'Mahony selects his entertainment highlights of the year

Best film experiences

It was a little dispiriting to find that Martin Scorsese’s magisterial The Irishman was more discussed for its running time and the furore generated around the amount of dialogue portioned to Anna Paquin.

I had the pleasure of seeing it in the cinema and I barely felt the time go by.

Live Music highlight

Rozi Plain – Coughlan’s in Cork.Released in April, Rozi Plain’s What a Boost is a fine collection of Stereolab-esque indie pop. By the time Rozi and her band played the Quiet Lights festival in November those mercurial songs were being played out of their skin. It felt less a gig and more like joining a cool gang.

Record

It’s really been quite a year for Irish alternative rock acts but I’ll go for a pair of albums that really strike out on their own paths. Comprising drones, field recordings and passages of Debussy-esque piano, Cork composer Mark Waldron-Hyden’s debut solo album Stream Segregation (Sunshine Cult Records) sounded like it emerged from right out of the blue.

Best known for two albums of lo-fi alt country laments, Cork outfit Boa Morte’s third album Before There Was Air (Gare du Nord) was the sound of a band comfortably exploring instrumental textures more in the style of contemporary composers like Olafur Arnalds and Johan Johansson.

Book

Sweet Home by Wendy Erskine (The Stinging Fly)

Thriving in the quiet muted areas of characters’ lives, Erskine’s stories are incapable of languishing in moroseness thanks to both the tenderness in which these tales are told and the author’s bone dry Belfast wit.

I had the pleasure of seeing her at July’s West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry and she proved to be a refreshingly no-nonsense sort.

Theatre

Thanks to the Sounds From A Safe Harbour festival Teac Damsa’s Swan Lake / Loch na hEalafinally landed in Cork. As dark and deep as a lake but as beautiful as a swan, its climactic moment of showering the audience in feathers felt like the cheapest theatrical trick in the book but if you didn’t allow yourself be tickled by it you are Scrooge.

Radio

The usual back-and-forth between Newstalk’s Off The Ball and RTÉ Radio 1’s Arena.

TV

The latest possible entry you can get but RTE’s recent portrait on arts patron and artistocratic scion Garech Browne shone a beautiful light on this enigmatic and lovable bon viveur.

Lowlight

The disappearance early on in the year of Susan Cahill’s Talking Books show from Newstalk’s schedule. A rare programme in the way it devoted ample time and seriousness to its topics.

Most enjoyable pieces you worked on:

Two of my favourite interviewees this year were electronic music producers Matthew Herbert and Robert Henke. Both speak so fascinatingly about sound and music.

Looking forward to for next year:

I must declare an interest and say the 65th Cork Film Festival, but also the addition of the Kino means Cork is well served for live music venues.

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