Ríoghnach Connolly is a flautist and vocalist with The Breath and the Afro Celts, and the BBC2 Folk Singer of the Year 2020.

She is one of the musicians featured in Sruth, a new four-part TG4/BBC Alba Series which starts on TG4 this Sunday, February 21st at 9.30 pm.

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In Sruth, eight of the finest young traditional musicians from Ireland and Scotland get the chance to show their prodigious talents while getting to play with some of traditional music's more established figures, including Ríoghnach, Julie Fowlis, Bríd Harper, Phil Cunningham, Niall Vallely, Duncan Chisholm and Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn. 

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We asked Ríoghnach for her choice cultural picks...

FILM

The deliciously distasteful diatribe of Boots Riley's Sorry to Bother You is a kind of absurdist parable on modern-day slavery. Darkly comic with a playful Anti-Capitalist message. So bizarre, but a thoroughly engaging watch.

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MUSIC

This is The Kit’s latest album OFF OFF ON is a delight. Alabaster de Plume is a close friend, and his album For Cy & Lee still floors me. His usual lyrical integrity doesn’t make an appearance on this collection of instrumentals, but each piece is full of beautiful, understated melodies. I’m madly in love with Aldous Harding’s record Designer, and her general stage presence, vividly styled videos and vocal 'strut’. Totally badass. Andy Shauf’s Bearer of Bad News gives me heart-wrenching storytelling and a lovely crunchy drumscape with epic reed arrangements. Oumou Sangaré’s Acoustic reworks all my Mogoya favourites, with vocal and Kora holding each other in perfect harmony.

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BOOK

My sister Roise hooked me up with a copy of The Importance Of Being Aisling, giving me an unapologetic Irish country small town realness. Paul Celan’s Last Poems and An Duanaire, 1600-1900: Poems of the Dispossessed have a disturbing commonality. Okot p’Bitek’s Song of Lawino, Song of Ocol breaks my heart. China Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is a constant I nostalgically go back to for fire in my belly, while Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus catches me up.

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PLAY

It’s been years since I saw Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Pinter’s The Birthday Party and Lorca’s Yerma but they all had that formative effect on me. My partner Ellis recently performed in a play at The Royal Exchange in Manchester called The Witching Way by Ali Matthews and Leo Burtin - a feminist parable exploring the parallel lives of a teen witch through the medium of rock opera. The Book of Mormon is still on the to-do list...

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TV

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13 is ticking all my boxes for Joy and empathy and feel-good TV. I was also glued to Succession, a show that gets the proverbial boot into a Murdoch-style family dynasty with a ferocious satire that left me biting my fist. And the theme tune is a banger!

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Wandavision has me thoroughly harrowed, but who doesn’t want to see a superhero having a breakdown? Also, Patterns in Nature is beautiful and helps me completely switch off.

GIG

I’ve got quite a few concert tickets awaiting the revival of the gig circuit: Ane Brun, Andy Shauf, Aldous Harding, the RuPaul’s Drag Race AllStars Tour…The Last gig I attended I was part of the program (Sruthbut it affected me greatly, it was in the round in The Church of Sound in London with Alabaster dePlume’s album launch.

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ART

When I'm feeling homesick, I love the work of fellow Armagh Pipers Club alumni Lorcan Vallely. We have his Sacco & Vanzetti at home (), and Brian Vallely’s The Armagh Bullet Thrower (above) is up in my living room.

RADIO/PODCAST

The Blindboy Podcast has kept me sane in many respects, he's let me howl and sit at the kitchen table with my own inner monologue as a safe space. Jonathan Van Ness’ Getting Curious 'woke’ enthusiasm is also great company in small doses - but that’s exactly what you get. Tell Me A Story with Eddie Lenihan was a fantastic recommendation and I wouldn’t mind sitting in with Tommy & Hector and put some manners on them! Laurita! Get yourself a big stick, please!

WEBSITE

The Musical Time Machine is an amazing website that you can listen to radio stations from anywhere in the world from any period in radio history - you just click your desired country and decade! Shuffle Mode is a treat!

APPS

What a difference a year makes I used to have the very handy Find Me Bucky - the tonic wino’s map. Wherever you are in the world, it would find the nearest bottle for sale, but since my daughter arrived, I’ve turned a new leaf and been sporting the Since I Quit app, I’m also feeling my DuoLingo - My partner Ellis and I are competing over lenition. Meanwhile, Noom is trying to indoctrinate me into eating healthier and I’m living for it, and Wim Hof Method is trying to hyperventilate me into hardcore mindfulness.

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THE NEXT BIG THING...

Feature-length music videos may have been happening for a while, but imagery running concurrently through the length of an album is becoming hugely nourishing. And why not? It is so much fun to write to motion, to inhabit the space, to soundtrack a film live: the other way around is another challenge, but we are all able to make our own art. Independent production companies just need more support!

Also, crowds: THEY ARE GONNA BE REALLY BIG AFTER LOCKDOWN!

Sruth starts on TG4 this Sunday, February 21st at 9.30 pm