Úna Monaghan is a harper, composer, researcher and sound artist from Belfast, who collaborates, improvises and performs with poets, visual artists, computers, writers, musicians, and others. This September, she joins vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird and cellist Kevin Murphy for a Music Network tour of Ireland.

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

Úna also works as a sound engineer, and her compositions have been presented internationally. In 2019 she received the inaugural Liam O’Flynn Award from the Arts Council of Ireland and the National Concert Hall Dublin, and in 2020 a BAN BAM award from Moving On Music and Improvised Music Company.

We asked Una for her choice cultural picks...

FILM

I love documentaries on musicians – I recently watched Delia Derbyshire: The Myths and The Legendary Tapes, and I need to see Sisters With Transistors. I enjoyed Baby Driver, and On The Basis of Sex, and I'm too afraid to watch Whiplash.

I watch very few films. I wish I watched more. I find it hard to commit the time but also it’s an art form that grabs hold of me and I put myself right in the characters’ lives… it’s usually too intense emotionally, and so I don’t like risking it. Because then sometimes I’m too affected for a few days. There’s enough going on in real life, isn’t there? The escapism has its place but I usually need to be sure where it’s escaping me to!

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

Ah, millions: Lyra Pramuk, Clare Sands and Susan O’Neill, Kitt Philippa, Niamh O’Brien, Harriet Tubman Trio, Alice Coltrane and Saileog Ní Cheannabháin.

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

Girl Woman Other by Bernardine Evaristo, and One Of Them by Musa Okwonga. D'imigh sin agus Tháinig Seo, le Séamus Mac Seáin is an important memoir from one of the founders of Gaeltacht Bhóthar Seoighe in West Belfast. From a work point of view – Stereophonica by Gascia Ouzounian is a fascinating text about sound and space.

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

Making Your Life as an Artist by Andrew Simonet is a pamphlet I return to; it would be great if those in other fields read it too! Increases our understanding of the less visible aspects of artistic work.

PLAY

I’m not sure if it’s a play, but I Walked Into My Head by Karan Casey just ran at Kilkenny Arts Festival – I’m sure it will happen again. I heard it was extraordinary, a deeply personal reflection on years of experience of life as a singer and activist.

I saw Abomination: A DUP Opera by Conor Mitchell and the Belfast Ensemble at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. It was outstanding in every direction - music, lyrics, set, film, costume, lighting. An insightfully cutting and clever spotlight on historical and recent comments by DUP members on gay rights, trans lives, marriage equality and more.

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 watch TV online when I need to depart my real life thought processes. I fall in love with characters. I’m enjoying Ted Lasso, and It’s A Sin was brilliant.

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

GIG

Hmm, it really has been a while due to Covid. The last one would have been when I did the live sound engineering for Jennifer Walshe’s Ireland: A Dataset. It was genius, really clever, funny, thought provoking and moving. A look at many facets of Irish-ness, how it is experienced, perceived and sold, and fascinating uses of AI in music. I also saw her installation Aisteach at the Model in Sligo some years ago; her work is exciting and mind opening. If you can catch Ríoghnach Connolly live, she’s a great artist and her stage presence is totally absorbing. Anything Brian Irvine and Dumbworld does is also wonderful.

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

ART

Nóirín NicAlastair. A brilliant bronze sculptor. She’s quietly producing a body of work right now and when it comes to exhibition it will be very special.

We need your consent to load this Instagram contentWe use Instagram 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

PODCAST

Girls Twiddling Knobs is great for people interested in sound and music technology. They're hardly new, but I listen to the Desert Island Discs podcasts, I love learning from the lives of others in diverse fields outside of my own. They’re all available online and I just choose someone to feed me some wisdom from their stories when I’m out for a run. The Rebel Matters podcast interviews some really interesting people. I scan Ted Talks too.

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

Bainim úsáid as téarma.ie nuair a bhíonn focail ar leith de dhíth orm i mo shaol proifisiúnta; tá mé an-bhuíoch go bhfuil an suíomh ar fáil saor in aisce ar líne.

I like the Big Butterfly Count app, and Biodiversity Ireland run a similar scheme. There is something lovely about taking 15 mins out of your day wherever you are to look for butterflies, learn to identify them and record what you see, to contribute to data on butterfly distribution. And it feels like it might help some scientists and the environment too.

THE NEXT BIG THING...

…is impacted by how (or whether) the arts are supported, especially by governments and companies. It takes work to make sure everyone is included, has access, and is fairly treated. It’s a really precarious existence, and The Next Big Thing is just one Thing, among loads of people working really hard with no guarantees and few protections. www.arts-emergency.org supports possible next big things without knowing what they are.

Úna Monaghan will be on a Music Network tour with vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird and cellist Kevin Murphy from September 1st - 19th, with performances in Roscommon, Drogheda, Limerick, Castlebar, Carrick-on-Shannon, Dublin and Ennis - find out more here.