Donal Lunny is one of the true giants, a prolific and versatile multi-instrumentalist and arranger who has been central to the renaissance of Irish music over the last four decades. Back in 1972, he was hand-picked by childhood friend Christy Moore to join ground-breaking quartet Planxty, changing the landscape of traditional music forever. A new retrospective CD/DVD set, Planxty: Between The Jigs And The Reels (out now, via Universal), offers an arduously-curated goldmine of recordings, TV appearances and live sets.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Film

The Counsellor with Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt and Penelope Cruz. This film got hammered in the US, but I thought it was excellent for how it depicted life in the exotic, murderous world of drug smuggling. Conor McCarthy wrote the script, and I love his writing, so maybe that's why I enjoyed this film, and Ridley Scott's realisation of it.  

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Music

Matthias Loebner. I've come across the venerable hurry-gurdy many times at overseas folk festivals - Andy Irvine played one in the early days of Planxty - and liked its quaint, mediaeval quality. But in the hands of Matthias Loebner, the hurry-gurdy, or Vielle, transmutes into a generator of an enormous world of mental landscapes sometimes delicate and fleeting, a butterfly among wildflowers, other times full of foreboding, menacing and apocalyptic; other times reminiscent of a Turner watercolour. But always beautiful. Matthias is a master of his art. 

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

By contrast; prog-trad concertinista Padraig Rynne introduced me to Snarky Puppy, a collective of young musical giants playing rock/jazz/fusion music of a complexity that would seem to involve telepathy; glorious and breathtaking. To be found (along with the rest of human culture in its entirety) on YouTube:

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Book

Taking Measure, by Scott Onstott. I have been interested in prehistory for some time, mainly because there is so much speculation about humanity's origins, and how far back we really go. Scott Onstott has collected data on the relationship between the planets of the solar system, and has used Google Earth to check the dimensions of the earth itself and the distances between points of significance on the planet. The results are truly intriguing, and raise many profound questions which make the proponents of orthodox science very uncomfortable indeed. 

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

TV

I don't have a TV! Gave it up 7 years ago. 

Gig

A few nights ago in Belfast, caught a few songs of Rioghnach Connolly singing with Honeyfeet; she has great presence, music with poise and heart, really lovely. 

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Also: In the Olympia earlier this year, Lianne La Havas was brilliant, and all the more enjoyable for having John Smith on guitar. 

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

No plans for attending any upcoming gigs right now; doing too many myself at present! 

Art

Jonathan Dickson, painter of mysterious urban landscapes - I opened his exhibition in Tinahely Courthouse Arts Centre during the summer. His paintings have an odd atmosphere about them; some willing the viewer to step in and inhabit their spaces, some seeming to be waiting, all with a sense of balance, all beautifully rendered. 

Radio

I just love tuning into The Late Debate, midweek on RTÉ Radio 1, to listen to Cormac O'Hara challenging politicians on their responsibility for the unacceptable state of the nation, and ruthlessly filleting the hapless ones who aren't quick enough on their political feet - reminding me just now of an elusive old jig called The Eel In The Sink...

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Tech

Outside of the battery of functional apps that come with the iPhone, I generally stay away from the App Store. Incidentally, not drawn to Twitter or Facebook either. Cyberspace platforms are still more or less outside conventional dry-land laws when it comes to taxes, copyright, ownership of content, etc, and they've effectively made up their own rules which are entirely in their own favour - e.g. Facebook owns every posting and every photo you've ever published on your page. I do believe something has to be done about this - worldwide.

I caught several glimpses of Pokemon Go, but I have to say I'm not drawn to its empty green twilight mapworld which, apart from the cute little Pokemons (Japanese for Pocket Monsters) which intermittently appear, is also saying  "I know exactly where you are". 

The Next Big Thing

Hopefully it won't be Donald Trump. 

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences