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Commissions / New Work


Shakespeare at Solstice is an ongoing project funded by Solstice by our Associated Artist Ronan Leahy. Check back in on the 17th of each month to see the premiere of a new sonnet! 

Hello and welcome to Shakespeare at Solstice.

It started with a question. Could I vlog Shakespeare on YouTube and get people who are unfamiliar with his poetry interested in his language? This led me to taking a deep dive into the sonnets.

The English word sonnet comes from the Italian word sonetto, meaning ‘a little song’. Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Never before Imprinted, published in 1609, contains 154 such little songs that I believe offer us greater insights into the man than all of his plays combined.

For this project, I have chosen a number of my favourites which I would like to share with you over the course of the year. I am approaching them all like little plays in which the character is trying to communicate an idea to you, the viewer. Learning the new skill of filmmaking has brought some rough and ready results that I’ve chosen to include as part of the process. An actor prepares, the outtakes!

I hope you enjoy watching.

- Ronan Leahy


Ronan Leahy is a freelance actor/director from Meath. As someone who has been working in professional theatre for the past thirty years predominantly as an actor, he has had the privilege of witnessing the development and evolution of Irish drama and its place on the world stage. Ronan graduated from the three-year Performance Arts Course at Bull Alley in 1992 and was a member of The Abbey Players from 1994-96. To date, he has performed in over twenty productions with the National Theatre and has worked with most of Ireland’s leading companies and directors. He has toured extensively both nationally and internationally and has gained a vast and varied experience of performance styles and disciplines. 

In 2018, in pursuit of his ambition to broaden his engagement with the theatre making process, Ronan undertook a Master’s degree in Theatre Directing at The Lir (The National Academy of Dramatic Art). For the final part of his course, he served an internship with The Toneelgroep Amsterdam under world renowned director, Ivo Van Hove. 

N.O.A.H performance at Solstice, June 2021

Stiles Events are delighted to present a recording of the live performance by Irish indie pop-rock trio N.O.A.H. from June 24th, 2021, in association with Solstice.

N.O.A.H was formed in January 2020, after the band decided to reform a previous musical endeavour. N.O.A.H comprises three lifelong friends, Ryan Hill - Lead Vocals & Guitar, Adam Rooney - Bass Guitar and Ronan Hynes - Drums. The members bonded over a passion for artists such as Kings of Leon, U2 and The Killers.

N.O.A.H’s debut single ‘Shine’ was released in September 2020. They have garnered consistent radio play and media attention across Ireland as well as the growing interest from fans in the UK. The band recorded an exclusive acoustic rendition of ‘Shine’ for Laura Whitmore on BBC5 Live in the UK, which was also crowned as ‘track of the week’ by RTE2 FM and Spin South West.

The band are currently working with Grammy Winning Producer Ruadhrí Cushnan on their debut EP, which is set to be released on vinyl in October 2021. They will be announcing a nationwide tour of Ireland for Feb - March 2022 (MCD) as well as a nationwide tour of the UK in March - April 2022 (LiveNation).

The now Dublin-based band hails from County Meath and is represented by Mother Artists Live Agency (Foster The People, Idles, CMAT).


This is How we Fly with Iarla Ó Lionaird  

Commissioned by Solstice Arts Centre with support from the Arts Council of Ireland 

Iarla Ó Lionáird – Vocals, samples 
Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh – Hardanger d’amore, electronics 
Seán Mac Erlaine – Clarinet, wurlitzer, electronics 
Nic Gareiss – Percussive dance 
Petter Berndalen – Percussion 
Part traditional music, part contemporary composition, part dance, This is How we Fly has always defied genre and category. To mark their ten-year anniversary in 2020, the acclaimed contemporary folk group collaborate with the celebrated Irish singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, commissioned by Solstice, to weave an imaginative song cycle around Co. Meath’s long literary tradition echoing Ireland’s ancient literary history as well as looking to contemporary sources. 

Over the past decade, the group has risen to become an internationally loved performance act with extensive tours throughout Europe, USA and Ireland. They have released two critically acclaimed albums as well as scoring award-winning film Wiki. As a live band their work centres on rapport and response, moving and sounding into uncharted territory to create folk music from an imaginary place, extemporising melodies and dance steps. 

Iarla Ó Lionáird has carved a long and unique career in music both internationally and in Ireland. From his iconic early recording of the vision song Aisling Gheal as a young boy to his ground breaking recordings with Crash Ensemble and New York’s Alarm Will Sound, he has shown a breadth of artistic ambition that sets him apart in the Irish Music fraternity. 

His performances and recorded output follows an ambitious arc that challenges musical identity from Folk to Worldbeat, from New Classical to Opera. But there’s no doubt he is one of our most distinctive voices and Iarla Ó Lionáird’s is one that ventures far beyond the boundaries of any one genre: a defiantly unclassifiable sound. 



Boyne Song - Seán MacErlaine (film/music composition)  

HD Film, Duration: 20 mins, 2019 

Seán Mac Erlaine · wurlitzer, metals, bass clarinet, xiao, field recordings // Moira Sweeney · film 
In their 20 minute immersive film, musician Seán Mac Erlaine and filmmaker Moira Sweeney respond to a stretch of the Boyne alive with the song and colour of early summer. A newly commissioned work by Solstice Arts Centre, curated by Linda Shevlin. 
There is something about a river you can never touch, its essence always shifting. We wanted to create a piece which leaves space for the water, air and bird song to flow through it. In Boyne Song the music moves in and out of focus while the images seem to both carry you forward and leave you back at your starting point. 

"In a clear mirror, all is nothing; there is only the clear mirror. Red comes, the mirror is red. Yellow comes, there is yellow... But all of these do not exist. The mirror does not hold on to anything. There is only the coming and the going."  Seung Sahn


Oratio - Five bespoke solid fumed oak drums) 

John Lee

MUSIC +MAKER was a visual arts exhibition at Solstice (Sat 9 March - Fri 24 May 2019 ) sought to travel a particular path of selected contemporary collaborations that saw artists and musicians/composers come together in diverse ways. 

The work of John Lee and Petter Berndalen arose from the This is How we Fly’s residency at Solstice. When talking through potential projects, Berndalen suggested that he would like to construct a new drum set. As distinguished maker John Lee resides in Meath, his unique craftsmanship in wood proved an inspired correlation. Berndalen and Lee interacted through skype and email, constructing a set of unique oak drums, titled oratio,  inspired by naturally occurring geometric forms. 

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Songs After Ledwidge

There is an island - Michelle O Rourke voice, Benedict Schlepper-Connolly violin, Garrett Sholdice piano

There is an Island combine rich vocals, earthy violin textures, minimal piano and etherial soundscapes to form songs inspired by the memories and places that linger in our hearts. 

Singer Michelle O’Rourke and the composing duo of Benedict Schlepper-Connolly (violin) and Garrett Sholdice (piano) channel an eclectic spread of influences – from Nick Cave to Planxty to Mozart – to create unforgettable, intimate performances. 

In 2017, There is an Island were commissioned by Solstice to create four new songs based on the poetry of Francis Ledwidge. 




What To Bring When We Leave

A collaborative commission, culminating in a unique continuous live performance by Tom French (word) and Danny Diamond (fiddle). 

Each artist stretches the other’s narratives in spoken and unspoken airs, finding solace in the unexpected places between. Tom French’s poetry draws on the traditional arts, folklore and rural Irish life; he writes vividly about traditional music, the people who play(ed) it, and the context in which it lives. As a traditional fiddle player, music archivist and researcher, Danny Diamond’s compositions bring a corresponding unconventional sensitivity to a similar sphere that informs French’s work. 


Tom French

Tom French has received bursaries in literature from An Chomhairle Ealaíon/The Arts Council, Ireland, in 1999, 2009, and 2016, and his work was awarded the inaugural Ted McNulty Prize. His first collection Touching the Bones was awarded the Forward Prize for First Collection 2002. He received the O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry in 2016, The Dermot Healy International Poetry Prize in 2015. His latest collection The Way to Work was published in May 2016. 

In Touching the Bones, his first collection of 2001, through The Fire Step of 2009, and into Midnightstown from 2014, French delves into the mysteries of family, the loss of forebears, and the intensely felt absence of what used to be immediately to hand—Ireland’s rural life. Though digitized Ireland may have supplanted rural craft, that craft lives yet in reader and poet. 

Danny Diamond 

Danny Diamond is a musician from Ireland. He comes from a renowned family of traditional musicians with a deep cultural heritage in the North of Ireland. In his work Danny plays fiddle, sings, composes, arranges and records music. 

Current projects include working as Music Co-Ordinator and performer with Teac Damsa’s multi award-winning dance theatre show Swan Lake / Loch na hEala, for which he also co-created the score. Other collaborations include the traditional fiddle duo NORTH (with Conor Caldwell). Past work includes the experimental Irish/Nordic trio Slow Moving Clouds (2014-2018), with whom he played fiddle, managed the band, released three albums and created the score for Teac Damsa’s Swan Lake / Loch na hEala. 

Seldom does a musician utterly inhabit a tradition while still expressing him or herself with such originality – Siobhan Long, Irish Times (On Danny Diamond) 
French’s ability in each of his books, is to find a way into such places, where the “beautifully executed wounds” are shown for what they are – John McAuliffe (On Tom French) 


 The Yellow River

Seán McSweeney & Gerard Smyth (Visual Arts & Poetry)  

The Yellow River is a tributary of the Blackwater (Kells), which joins the Boyne at Navan, County Meath that unites the personal histories of poet Gerard Smyth and artist Sean McSweeney. Gerard Smyth spent many summers in Meath staying with his grandmother and an aunt, whilst originally Sen McSweeney’s family lived in Clongill until the untimely death of his father. 

Over two years Gerard Smyth revisited Meath in further inquiry with Belinda Quirke, Director of Solstice, in the development of a new suite of poems, recollecting and revisiting significant sites of occurrence in the poet’s and county’s history. Sean McSweeney created new work from trips to his original home place and the county. McSweeney here responds lyrically to particular sites of Smyth’s poetry, whilst also depicting in watercolour, ink, tempera and drawing, the particular hues of The Royal County. 



Conversations Across Time

Dumbworld (Brian Irvine, John McIlduff) with Navan Male Voice Choir & Flowerfield National School 

What exists between the dreams we had as children and the memories we carry as adults of an advanced age? What is a life viewed from the two extremities of childhood and old age? What would be the conversation between two time travelers: one spiraling into the unknown of the future, the other tumbling into the shadows of the past?  

Conversations Across Time is an innovative new music theatre production by composer Brian Irvine and writer John McIlduff, produced by Dumbworld in association with the Solstice Arts Centre, that will bring together the different perspectives of children and older people to explore ideas of a life lived and to be lived.  

The project began with an extended period of organized conversations which took place all around the county of Meath and involved groups and individuals of young children between 7 and 11 and older people over 75.  

The transcripts of these conversations were then used by John & Brian to inspire and create entertaining and thought provoking stories, songs and music which form the basis of the show.  

At the heart of the piece is a unique ensemble made up of three of the finest contemporary classical and improvising musicians working in Europe and Ireland on piano and percussion, two significant singers, an Irish actress and a fifty strong ensemble of non-professional performers from Meath including children from Flowerfield National School and adults from the Navan Male Voice Choir.  

  • Composer & Conductor Brian Irvine  
  • Writer & Director John McIlduff  
  • Set & Costume Design Sabine Dargent  
  • Video Designer Conan McIvor  
  • Narrator Mary-Lou McCarthy  
  • Soprano Laura Murphy  
  • Baritone & Cello Matthew Sharp  
  • Musicians Ruth McGinley, Alex Petcu & Annalisa Monticelli  
  • Additional Singers Matthew Mannion, Jacek Wislocki & Mark Tilley  
  • Choirs Flowerfield National School & Navan Male Voice Choir  
  • Project Manager Susanna Lagan  
  • Researcher Brittny Heinrich  
  • Production Manager Rob Usher  
  • Lighting Designer Sebastían Pizarro  
  • Sound Noel Ryan 
Convo 1
Convo 2
Convo 3
Convo 4



Deirdre Kinahan (playwright) 

Deirdre Kinahan's play Moment is about a family's difficulty in confronting a past crime committed by one of its members. It was first performed at the Solstice on 12 November 2009. The production transferred to the Bush Theatre, London, on 25 February 2012. 

The action of the play takes place in September 2009 in the kitchen of the Lynch family house in Chapelizod, Dublin. When Nial Lynch (aged 30) comes back to the family home, unexpectedly bringing his devoted English partner Ruth, their presence is not altogether welcome. His mother, Teresa, is suffering from apparent dementia. His married sister Ciara greets him grudgingly. And his other sister, Niamh, is outright hostile. Nial has built himself a reputation as a painter in Cork, but it's a moment from the more distant past that haunts them all: Nial has spent five years in a juvenile prison for the murder, fourteen years earlier, of Niamh's then best friend, Hilary Kelly. And Niamh can't quite accept that Nial has served his time. 

The play's premiere was directed by David Horan and designed by Maree Kearns. The cast was Ronan Leahy, Rebecca O’Mara, Maeve Fitzgerald, Deirdre Donnelly, Kate Nic Chonaonaigh, Karl Quinn, Will Joseph Irvine and Aela O’Flynn. 

Shakespeare at Solstice | Ronan Leahy