Thursday 22nd October

Dublin Literary Award 2020

We had the chair of the International Dublin Literary award, Chris Morash in with us last week going through the 10 shortlisted titles for this year’s award. Anna Burns, author of Milkman has won the award of €100,000. The prize is the world’s largest. This is of course to add to her 2018 Man Booker Prize.

Film Reviews

John Maguire and Aingeala Flannery review new films for Arena. Ben Wheatley brings us his sumptuous version of Rebecca, Sofia Coppolla is back with the actor she calls her muse Bill Murray in a film called On The Rocks and Francois Ozon brings us the coming of age tale, Summer of 85.

Joan Baez

Author Elizabeth Thompson discusses her new book on Joan Baez 'The Last Leaf'. The iconic, singer-songwriter and civil rights activist, turns 80 next January and will forever be associated with the 1960s folk revival. She played her farewell tour last year – 60 years after her famous debut as an unknown at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival.

Wednesday 21st October


Edel Coffey discusses Rebecca which is probably the best known and most successful of all of the novels of Daphne du Maurier. The story is set in a house called Manderley, owned by wealthy widower, Maxim de Winter. There, his deceased wife, Rebecca, still commands a mysterious presence, increasingly felt by his new, young, unnamed bride.

Dermot Bolger

Secrets Never Told is the first short story collection by Dermot Bolger, a writer so prolific in poetry, plays and novels that it’s hard to believe he could have a debut to make at this stage. Supermarket Flowers, has just been shortlisted for Short Story of the Year in the 2020 An Post Irish Book Awards.

The Undoing

Chris Wasser reviews The Undoing, a new six-part drama from David E Kelley starring Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman, on Sky Atlantic. The series, which concerns a grisly murder case that destroys the lives of two Manhattan families, is based on the international best-seller, You Should Have Known.

Tuesday 20th October

Steve Lillywhite on U2's Boy

On October 20th 1980 the debut album from little-known Dublin band U2 was released. Recorded at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin it was the band's first time working with producer Steve Lillywhite. Since that debut album 40 years ago U2 have gone on to conquer the globe.

Where do I begin – Anna Moffo

One of Ireland's greats, Claudia Boyle, recommends where to begin with American soprano, Anna Moffo, who rose to fame in the 1950s and 60s, and starred in the first film adaptation of Verdi's La Traviata.

Tim Robinson

The International Literature Festival, Dublin will celebrate the life and work of writer Tim Robinson who sadly passed away earlier this year. Robinson spent more than 40 years chronicling his adopted home, the Arran Islands and Connemara. Author Robert McFarlane discusses Tim Robinson.

Monday 19th October

Tara Erraught

Mezzo Masterpieces is a new series of three online concerts with a socially distanced Irish National Opera Orchestra. Thanks to OPW, these concerts will be live-streamed from Kilkenny Castle on 24th October, Castletown House, Celbridge on 31st October and finally Dublin Castle on 15th November. Tara Erraught discusses the series with Kay Sheehy.

The Divine Comedy

30 years ago, a Northern Irish band with a name inspired by a 12th - century poem by Dante, released the first of their 12 albums. Neil Hannon discusses the remastered collection entitled Venus, Cupid, Folly & Time: Thirty Years of The Divine Comedy.

Friday 16th October

Dublin International Literary Festival

Christopher Morash, chair of this year's judging panel of the Dublin International Literary Award. The prize is worth 100,000 and the long list of 156 titles is created by library users all over the world shortlisted to ten titles.

PG Wodehouse

PG Wodehouse, writer of novels, plays and musicals, will forever be remembered as the inventor of Jeeves and Wooster, one of the funniest double acts in English literature. Ben Schott who has just published Jeeves and the Leap of Faith, his second novel featuring the autocratic butler and his hapless charge. (Hutchinson)

Album Reviews

Lauren Murphy and John Meagher review new albums. The debut album from Matt Berninger - the singer in The National, Georgian-British singer Katie Melua and Irish singer, Paddy Hannah, releases an album he describes as an “internal musical.

Thursday 15th October

Film reviews

Donald Clarke and Roe McDermott review new films for Arena. The 40 year Old Version which stars the writer director Radha Blank on Netflix, The Other Lamb is a disturbing drama from Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska filmed in Ireland, and Body of Water, directed by Lucy Brydon, is a British movie focusing on a woman with an eating disorder.

The Teen Drama

Jenn Gannon talks about the allure and the evolution of the teen drama over the years, how they started as escapist fantasies but have become something more hard hitting and gritty. Dawson's Creek will be on Netflix from November 1st.

The Glorious Guinness Girls

Emily Hourican's new novel tells the story of the brilliant, spoilt, flighty Guinness sisters from their idyllic childhood in their stately home in Ireland while the War of Independence rages outside, to the exuberance and decadence of London's high society. Published by Hachette.

Wednesday 14th October

John O'Conor

To mark the 250th anniversary of composer Beethoven’s birth, Music for Galway will stage a special concert featuring the renowned pianist John O’Conor performing the composers final three piano sonatas. See musicforgalway.ie for streaming details.


RTE.ie/ illuminations, a new initiative from the arts and culture department in RTE, where artists were invited to reflect the times we are in. Contributions include works of photography, film, music, as well as written and spoken word. Stephen Murphy has written this poem for RTÉ illuminations, entitled 'The Language of the Birds'.


Mary McGill reviews Roadkill which is the title of a new political thriller about a Conservative politician and cabinet minister, played by Hugh Laurie. The first episode airs at 9 PM this Sunday, October 18, on BBC1 television.

Greg Delanty

Colum McCann has called him ‘the laureate of those who have gone’ - these latest poems salute the natural world. No More Time by Greg Delanty is published by LSU Press.

Tuesday 13th October

Budget Day

RTÉ’s Arts and Media Correspondent Sinéad Crowley reports on Budget Day. The total package of 17.75 billion euro is the largest ever announced in the history of the State.

Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin’s latest novel, A Song For The Dark Times, is the 23rd novel in the series. Rebus gets involved in a case that’s close to home and yet miles from his usual Edinburgh base. There’s more than one investigation underway as things turn out! Published by Orion

David Byrne

Jim Carroll recommends where to begin with the music of David Byrne, former front man of Talking Heads. American Utopia, a film by Spike Lee will be released in America. Due to cinema closures here, the release has been deferred.

Leslie Jamison

Essayist Leslie Jamison's Make it Scream, Make it Burn is a series of essays and long form journalism, meditations on isolation and longing. Leslie discusses her work with Seán Rocks ahead of appearing at The West Cork Literary Festival.

Monday 12th October

Paul Morley

Writer Paul Morley went searching for something new – and found it in classical music. In his book A Sound Mind Morley argues this genre to be the most exciting and varied in music.

Paula Meehan

25 years’ worth of poetry can be found in As If By Magic, the new edition of selected poems by Paula Meehan. From her early collection, The Man Who Was Marked By Winter to her last book Geomantic. The work explores themes of family, the lives of women, the natural world and social justice. Published by Dedalus Press.

Suppose A Sentence

Suppose A Sentence is the latest collection of essays from Brian Dillon. He selects some of the finest sentence-makers around – Joan Didion, Janet Malcolm, and Hilary Mantel are just three of the 28 writers. He then chooses just one sentence from each writer to explore! Published by Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Friday 9th October

Album reviews

Zara Hedderman and Simon Maher review new albums for Arena from Future Islands, darlings of the indie press, with album number six to Emmy the Great, English Chinese singer songwriter, Emma Lee Moss and Scottish veterans Travis.

Festival in a Van

The Festival in a Van is the brain child of arts journalist and sometimes festival organizer Gemma Tipton. Gemma joins Seán Rocks from Co Kerry. See festivalinavan.com

John Lennon

On what would have been the 80th birthday of John Lennon his biographer writer Philip Norman, whose own back catalogue includes the iconic Beatles book, Shout! and a later biography John Lennon: The Life talks to Seán Rocks.

Thursday 8th October

Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams is a new book from GQ editor in chief Dylan Jones. It charts the social history of the New Romantic era of music. Jones interviewed over 150 people. Peter Murphy reviews the book for Arena while revisiting music from Duran Duran to the Human League and Eurythmics.

Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby is the bestselling author of books such as High Fidelity. He discusses his latest novel, Just Like You with Seán Rocks and published by Viking.

Film Reviews

Ruth Barton and Justin MacGregor review new films for Arena from Summerland to I am Woman on digital release and the documentary, Henry Glassie: Field Work.

Wednesday 7th October


Illuminations is a brand new online gallery, specially commissioned by RTÉ to showcase the work of artists. Two of the artists involved - Hazel Coonagh are photographer and visual artist, and Megan K Fox, writer and director in TV/film. See rte.ie/illuminations

Paula Rego

Portuguese artist Paula Rego is a master of narrative painting, her use of fairy tales, literature. The Irish Museum of Modern Art is currently hosting an exhibition of Rego’s work called Obedience and Defiance, the curator is Catherine Lampert to introduce us to the painter and whet our appetites for the exhibition.

Jaime Martín

Jaime Martín is the Principal Conductor of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. Jaime joins Seán Rocks live in studio to discuss the upcoming concerts at the National Concert Hall. Live is a series of three concerts from Beethoven to Ravel. Streaming on RTÉ culture from this Friday at 7pm. See rte.ie/culture/

Tribute to Eddie Van Halen

Guitarist Ray Harman pays tribute. The sad news yesterday emerged that guitar legend, Eddie Van Halen, had lost his battle with throat cancer and died at the age of 65. He was the leader of the rock band Van Halen. They were one of the biggest bands of the 80s, and provided a defining sound for the emerging MTV.

Tuesday 6th October

Happy Days

Samuel Beckett’s play Happy Days has been named as one of the 40 best plays of all time. Sligo’s Blue Raincoat Theatre Company celebrate their 30th year. Actors Sandra O’Malley and John Carty talk to Seán Rocks.

Where do I begin with Richard Linklater?

Author Helen Cullen recommends where to begin with the films of the award-winning Texan director. Richard Linklater is best known for his indie films that often deal with the subjects of suburbia, dreaming and the passage of time. He has directed 31 films and been nominated for 5 Academy Awards, most recently in 2015 for Boyhood.


Tomm Moore and Ross Stuart of Kilkenny's Cartoon Saloon are the creators behind WolfWalkers. The month of October will be dedicated to the film with a series of outdoor events in Kilkenny. It is due for cinema release on October 30th and then onto Apple TV in December.

Monday 5th October


Declan Hughes reviews the true crime drama series, Des. Dennis Nielson was one of the most prolific serial killers of the time. David Tennant stars in the three part series set in 1983.

John Banville

Author John Banville reads on extract from his latest crime novel Snow.

Ailbhe Reddy

Personal History is the debut album from Ailbhe Reddy. The Dublin singer and songwriter performs live in studio and talks to Seán Rocks ahead of performing at The Workman's Club on November 20th.


Mark O’Halloran discusses his new film Rialto and starring Tom Vaughan Lawlor. It is based on the screenwriter's award-winning 2011 play Trade.

Friday 2nd October

Album reviews

Roisin Murphy, with her fifth solo album, Roisin Machine, the debut album from Working Men’s Club and Groove Armada's first album in 10 years. Kelly Anne Byrne and Eamon Sweeney review for Arena.

Derek Mahon Tribute

Seán Rocks is joined by friends and admirers of Derek Mahon on the sad news of his death. Poets Gerald Dawe, Michael Longley, Paula Meehan, Paul Muldoon, and authors Hugh Haughton and Matthew Geadon pay tribute to the Belfast poet.

Thursday 1st October

Brave New World

Daragh Downes reviews Brave New World. The series airs on Sky Atlantic. It is based on Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel, a dystopian nightmare, with genetically engineered inhabitants trained to be happy with their lot in life. It is set in New London where everyone is happy all of the time.

Film reviews

Chris Wasser and Arlene Hunt review Rialto from writer Mark O'Halloran, starring Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Eternal Beauty, a dark comedy with Sally Hawkins and American legal drama, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago Seven with an ensemble cast including Sasha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, and Eddie Redmayne.

John Banville

Set in rural Wexford in 1957, Snow is the latest novel from John Banville. The action revolves around Ballyglass House, home of local gentry, the Osborne family, in whose library a priest is found dead – obviously murdered – one morning just before Christmas. Snow is the latest in your detective fiction series. Published by Faber and Faber.

Wednesday 30th September

Wynton Marsalis

Musician Michael Buckley discusses Wynton Marsalis, who is one of the most respected composers in the world of jazz and classical music. 'The Ever Fonky Lowdown' is an opera, an epic two hour and 53 track album.

Gaze Film Festival

This year, the Gaze Film Festival is online. Director Patrick Chiha discusses the award-winning 'If it Were Love' from October 01st ifihome.ie Inspired by 90s dance culture the film centres around the personal and professional lives of the dancers.

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Contact the Show

Email: arena@rte.ie

 Twitter: @RTEArena

Text: 51551

Presenter: Seán Rocks

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