John Meagher: Loaded
There really isn't enough funding for the arts in Ireland, so the huge controversy surrounding Limerick's tenure as our inaugural City of Culture is embarrassing on several levels.
Rather than discussion of an exciting programme of events there for 2014, all anyone can talk of is how mortifying it has become.
Outgoing CEO Patricia Ryan has come in for considerable criticism, but when she takes the time to reflect on her short-lived tenure she will surely realise that if you're running a cultural event you can't ask any self-respecting artist to alter their material in order to suit your needs.
When it emerged last week that she had emailed two young rappers from the Moyross estate to ask them to erase mention of the city as "rough" from one of their songs, her days looked numbered. They refused -- and rightly so. The country's most maligned city deserves better leadership so let's hope that new appointees will get the project back on track as soon as possible.
* This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of the country's most-loved concert venues -- Whelan's. I've long lost track of the number of times I've been to the intimate space just off Wexford Street, Dublin, but the better gigs will live long in the memory ... The Wrens, Jens Lekman, Interpol, Beach House. The list goes on. The year-long birthday celebrations will feature special one-off gigs each month from "the biggest and best bands to play Whelan's over the years". Might there be a show from the very first band to play the venue, The Subterraneans? Those with very long memories may recall that the Dublin band released an EP on U2's Mother label.
Intriguingly, a small record shop is set to open at Whelan's in 2014 -- a riposte to all those who were adamant that such retail ventures were for the scrapheap. According to Whelan's, the shop will be aimed at "customers looking for hard-to-get CDs and bands looking for an outlet to feature their newest releases".
* Speaking of record stores, Tower will soon be moving the short distance from Wicklow Street to Dawson Street where it will occupy a large building that was previously home to Waterstones. And COS, the Swedish fashion label, will be moving into Tower's old premises. Tower's presence in Easons, O'Connell Street, will remain.
* There's an unexpected album atop the UK chart this week: Ellie Goulding's Halycon. It was released in October 2012 but was kept off the top by Mumford & Sons' Babel. Now, thanks to its surprisingly enduring appeal, it's jumped to number one 65 weeks after it came out.