It's the May Bank Holiday weekend so we're plotting pirate escapes, trips to Illyria and kicking back with some top-notch radio.
The original Wild Atlantic Woman, Grace O?Malley, has her very own festival kicking off in Mayo this bank holiday weekend. 500 years ago this Irish warrior princess commanded the seas from Scotland to Spain, all from her fearsome base in Clew Bay on the jagged West Coast. Forget your Maggie Thatchers and Christine Lagardes, this woman had the whole multitasking thing down with her support for various rebellions, tricky negotiations with Queen Elizabeth, and a younger lover. Westport, Clare Island, Louisburgh, Newport, Mulranny and Achill Island are celebrating the legendary leader at the Festival of the Pirate Queen, now in its second year. Grace O?Malley's official biographer Anne Chambers will be speaking in Westport House, where her direct descendants still reside, about the extraordinary life of Gr?inne N? Mh?ille. Meanwhile Westport Castle have an exhibition and some dungeons for your perusal. Foraging for mushrooms, coastal walks as well as a Pirate Queen Adventure Race are in order. Don't worry, the latter challenge doesn't include taking on the high seas. Also, in the spirit of Gr?inne the race is open to men but ?the emphasis is on the female participants with no prizes for males.? Sign us up. You can then discover your strength through girl power and mindfulness on Clare Island through yoga practice and a talk on Female Empowerment by Ellen O?Malley, the ex Chieftain of the O?Malley clan.
Refreshments-wise the Grainne Ale Festival is taking place Saturday and Sunday afternoon in Gracy's Bar & Caf? in Westport House. Turn your sundown into an exploration of traditional Irish ale houses including West Mayo Brewery, Independent Brewing Company, Mountain Man Brewing, Metalman Brewing, and Br? Brewery. Then dance away to Mr Whippy Soundsystem under the stars. (We caught his gig at the after party for last year's Westport Festival and he kicks that second wind mood right into gear.)
?If music be the food of love, play on.?
Last year saw us all forgetting those hours of learning off the soliloquys of Shakespeare's tragic heroes for our Leaving Cert when Joss Whedon released his smart, sexy and modern take on the Bard's Much Ado About Nothing. The Abbey's latest production Twelfth Night continues in this modern and cheeky vein infusing the centuries old text with a modern twist. While Much Ado is the original rom-com template - man and woman argue incessantly, are masking deep feelings of attraction - Twelfth Night is the original screwball comedy. Orsino loves Olivia. Olivia Loves Cesario. Cesario is actually Viola and loves Orsino. Sebastian is not as dead as we think he is and might love whoever he needs to. Purists might balk at the opening scene where the lovesick Duke Orsino struts on stage in gold pants with a guitar but after a few minutes you'll get caught up with the booming drums and frantic pace. For tickets see here.
Woman's Hour is our favourite podcast to type away to here in IMAGE HQ. One of the Beebs flagship offerings, the hour-long show has been running since 1946 and has been a much-needed discussion space for women's issues that the mainstream don't pay enough attention to and a depository for learning about incredibly cool gals. Also current presenters Jenni Murray and Jane Garvey seem like the type of women you'd love to grab Thursday night pints with. This week the show has been doing things a little differently with a series of guest editors stepping in for the first time ever. Our own personal heroin JK Rowling took over the reins Monday to talk about MS in Scotland and shoes, followed by Kelly Holmes on Tuesday. Novelist Naomi Alderman was in the studio Wednesday and human rights campaigner Doreen Lawrence was in the studio yesterday. Today sees Lauren Laverne talking to Twitter's Most Famous Feminist Caitlin Moran as well as a discussion about the Spice Girls and Girl Power. Where can you line up five hours of awesome? Why here.
All week we've been watching our glamorous desk neighbours over at the bridal magazine BASH get ready for BASHprep, their creative wedding workshop that is happening this Saturday in the cosy and picturesque surroundings of the No 25 Eustace Street townhouse. Brides to be shall be learning floral arrangements, cake decorating and beauty with our own Ellie Balfe, as well as a host of other amazing-incredible-creative things. We can't wait. Especially for the disco afterparty and Moet cocktails.
Try A Little Tenderness
We may have mentioned before how excited we are about Phizzfest this weekend, especially the outdoor screening of the Dublin soul band that could classic The Commitments. The movie starts at nine tonight in King's Inn Park. Details here and now some music to get you in the mood.
Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun