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Dublin's 10 Unmissable Events and Festivals this August

Dublin's 10 Unmissable Events and Festivals this August

Picture of Dierdre Mulrooney
Updated: 9 February 2017
You can have a perfect summer day in Dublin: from a gander at the sand sculptures round the Castle to an evening with Cillian Murphy at the theatre and a late concert with Sinead O’Connor herself, there’s something for everyone in Ireland’s capital. But these are just a few suggestions for a cultural odyssey around Dublin this August, in the city where Joyce’s Leopold Bloom took the most famous day trip in modern literature.

Art | Annual Dublin Castle Sand Sculpture Exhibition

29 July – 27 August

The theme of this year’s annual Dublin Castle Sand Sculpture exhibition is ‘Black, White and Grey’, and offers a lovely opportunity to explore the grounds of this historic Dublin building. Watch the carving unfold live in front of your eyes, from 29 July to 4 August, and the sculptures will be on display until 28 August. Entrance to see the sand sculptures is free, and you are welcome to wander around the Dublin Castle courtyards almost anytime. However, to take a peek inside, and peer down into the underground world of Dubh Linn, and the river Poddle, join a guided tour.

Dublin Castle, Dame Street, Dublin, Ireland

isabel nolan
Isabel Nolan Exhibition | Courtesy IMMA

Art | Isabel Nolan: The Weakened Eye of Day

7 June – 21 September

Isabel Nolan’s luminous, beautiful exhibition The Weakened Eye of Day at Irish Museum of Modern Art is inspired both by a Thomas Hardy poem and big bang theory. Nolan, one of Ireland’s most interesting contemporary artists explores ‘tentative or precarious markers of our place beneath the sun’ with sculpture, watercolours, textiles and even some donkeys. The Irish Museum of Modern Art, the finest 17th century building in Ireland, flanked by exquisite manicured gardens, is always worth a visit, and maybe even a picnic if the sun is out.

The Weakened Eye of Day, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Royal Hospital, Military Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, Ireland, +353 1 612 9900

bewley's cafe theatre
Bewley’s Cafe Theatre Entrance | Courtesy Bewley’s Cafe Theatre

Performing Arts | Crude Mechanicals

22 July– 16 August

Bewley’s Café Theatre lunchtime plays, with soup and brown bread on the side, are one of the best things on Grafton Street. This month, until August 16th, you can enjoy the world premiere of Crude Mechanicals, a ‘laugh-out-loud comedy’ based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, starring Clare Barrett and directed by Karl Quinn. After that, it’s The Importance of Being Honest, by Billie Traynor, featuring Oscar Wilde’s favourite ladies who lunch, Gwendolen and Cecily, meeting twenty years later…

Crude Mechanicals, Bewley’s Cafe & Theatre, 79 Grafton Street, Dublin, Ireland, +353 86 878 4001

Music | Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill with the RTE Concert Orchestra

1 August

Martin Hayes, the Paganini of the Irish fiddle, from East Clare, is one of the most remarkable musicians to come out of Ireland in the last 50 years. Australian Dennis Cahill’s unique guitar accompaniment, and occasionally didgeridoo, allows Hayes the freedom to take our simple, complex, harrowing and beautiful traditional music into uncharted territories. Allow yourself to be transported to another, ethereal place, by this extraordinary due, accompanied by the RTE Concert Orchestra, in the main auditorium at Dublin’s National Concert Hall this month.

RTE Concert Orchestra, National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, Ireland

Music | Light in August, Kaleidoscope Night

6 August

Approaching their fifth birthday next month, Kaleidoscope Night, an evening of eclectic classical chamber music founded by cellist Kate Ellis and violinist Cliodhna Ryan, on the first Wednesday of every month in Dublin’s funky Odessa Club, has evolved into one of the most tasteful and enjoyable nights out in Dublin. Kaleidoscope Night ushers in the Irish autumn with a programme featuring eclectic Canadian trio, Ecouter Ensemble. That is Nikola Ragusa, Amelie Brodeur and Natalie Spehar collectively covering flute, piano, cello and vocalist roles. Expect arrangements of Leonard Cohen, Dave Brubeck, Astor Piazzolla and more

Kaleidoscope Night, Odessa Club, Dame Court, Dublin, Ireland, +353 1 670 7634

ruth e lyons
Ruth E. Lyons, ‘The Sky is Not Bounded by a Fixed Edge!’ | Courtesy Kevin Kavanagh Gallery

Art | Ruth E Lyons at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery

7 – 30 August

Kevin Kavanagh Gallery is one of Ireland’s top independent galleries, with an impressive stable of contemporary Irish artists and curators. You have to admire the gallery for keeping the show on the road so elegantly in what is a tough market, by any standards. This month Kavanagh showcases rural Ireland based artist Ruth E Lyons, co-founder of The Good Hatchery and her new works in an exhibition entitled The Pinking. Lyons works primarily in large-scale sculpture, installations, and public works, so pop by to see where it’s all going.

Ruth E Lyons, Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Chancery Lane, Dublin, Ireland, +353 1 475 9514

Ballyturk | Courtesy Landmark Theatre Productions

Performing Arts | Ballyturk at the Olympia Theatre

7 – 23 August

Ballyturk serves up an explosive cocktail of creative talent, starring Cork-born superstar Cillian Murphy, Stephen Rea, and Mikel Murfi, who have come out to play with Enda Walsh, one of Ireland’s most unusual contemporary dramatists. As expected Ballyturk took Galway International Arts Festival by storm. Tickets are like gold dust, and you’ll be lucky to get one for the play’s August run at Dublin’s bijou theatre, The Olympia, on Dame Street. If you don’t, I recommend queuing for returns – it’ll be worth it.

Ballyturk, Olympia Theatre, 72 Dame Street, Dublin, +353 1 679 3323

everlasting voices
Everlasting Voices | Courtesy Everlasting Voices

Performing Arts | Everlasting Voices

12 – 16 August

Ever wondered what the Irish language sounds like? In Everlasting Voices, the glorious poetry of three of Ireland’s Nobel Laureates W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney is brought to life in a unique theatrical experience by actors Cathal Quinn and Clodagh Smith, accompanied by musician and singer Enda Reilly, and contemporary dancer Megan Kennedy. Aphorisms from another Nobel Laureate G.B. Shaw add colour and humour. And for the piece de resistance, Irish-language translations of some of the poetry by world-renowned poet and translator Gabriel Rosenstock, presents another interpretation of these four masters, resonating beautifully in the older, native tongue.

Everlasting Voices, Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland,

Nirbhaya | Courtesy Pavilion Theatre Company

Performing Arts | Nirbhaya

Until 2 August

Take a stroll along the Dunlaoghaire pier in the last of the lovely long evenings and pop in to the Pavilion Theatre for your final opportunity to catch Yael Farber’s powerful play Nirbhaya, which is on a rare tour to Dublin from India. This transformative play, inspired by the brutal gang rape of a girl dubbed ‘Nirbhaya’ (Fearless”) in Delhi, has shocked and awed audiences from Edinburgh and London to Delhi, and now it is Dublin’s turn. Catch up with Farber and her team’s new magic testimonial theatre at the Pavilion.

Nirbhaya, Pavilion Theatre, Dunlaoghaire, Dublin, Ireland, +353 1 231 2929

Music | Sinead O’Connor: I’m not Bossy, I’m the Boss

16 August

The great Sinéad O’Connor presents her new album I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss – due for release on 11 August – and songs from a career spanning 25 years and millions of record sales worldwide. From her first breakthrough 1987 hit, ‘Mandinka’ and the 1990s multi-platinum global ‘I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got’ and its unforgettable number one ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, right through to her brand new record, Sinead has constantly surprised and delighted. Grab this opportunity to see the Sinead legend live in the main auditorium at Dublin’s National Concert Hall this month.

Sinead O’Connor, National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, Ireland

By Deirdre Mulrooney