Imelda May to present Sky Arts Christmas special

Tuesday 13 December 2022

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Sky & Red Shoe Productions present ‘Christmas in Ireland with Imelda May and Friends’ - a one-hour special broadcast on December 24th hosted by Imelda May

Sky today announced a Christmas special, hosted by Imelda May, that will premiere on Sky Arts and NOW, this Christmas Eve at 9.30pm.

Filmed at the iconic Pepper Canister Church in the heart of Georgian Dublin, ‘Christmas In Ireland with Imelda May and Friends’ features music and literary performances, from well-known and up-and-coming artists.

Produced to celebrate the now legendary Grafton Street Christmas Eve Busk and shot in front of a live audience from the Simon Community, the Sky Original will feature festive favourites like The Wexford Carol and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and will see Imelda May joined onstage by musicians Glen Hansard, Jack Lukeman, Loah, Hawke The Band and more.

Alongside these beautiful musical performances, Sharon Corr recites Patrick Kavanagh’s A Christmas Childhood while The Dubliners legend, John Sheahan, performs a self-penned poem that captures the magic of Christmas at home. Viewers will also be treated to a very special rendition of the iconic Marino Waltz that sees John joined onstage by his daughter Ceoladh, Séamus and Caoimhe Uí Fhlatharta and Cormac de Barra.

‘Christmas in Ireland with Imelda May and Friends’ is a celebration of the literature and music that has shaped Irish culture and will be a joyously touching evening to bring everyone together in the spirit of Christmas.

Speaking ahead of the special, Imelda May said: “We had the most beautiful night you can imagine and captured it all on film so we could share the moment with others. Serendipity was alive and well in abundance and once Maggie Breathnach, Meredith Plant and I got the logistical pieces of the puzzle to fit the evening took on a life of its own. Everyone who was present felt their souls rise and minds calm in the stunning Pepper Cannister Church in Dublin one winters evening. Each artist brought their own divine wonder and brilliance. I wanted to show to the world a true Irish Christmas of all styles, generations and huge talent celebrated through song, story, poetry, family (including my own Dad) and friendship.

Christmas can often get overwhelming, so I wanted us to encapture the true spirit of this time, observed in Ireland for thousands of years pre-Christianity, in all its simplicity and glory. I wanted to acknowledge the struggles many face at this time so invited both clients and volunteers of the Simon Community to show solidarity and thank the workers for all they do all year round. (There’s an unbelievable moment of fate and beauty with Glen and busker Paddy I’ll never forget) I hope this will make you feel uplifted, nourished and fill your heart to the brim with warmth, joy and of course a sprinkling of magic.”

Commenting on ‘Christmas in Ireland with Imelda May and Friends’, JD Buckley, Sky Ireland CEO, said: “We are honoured to once again be working with Imelda May and the team from Red Shoe. This Christmas special is a beautifully produced celebration of Ireland, its musical and literary history and the many great artists that come from every corner of the country. Christmas with Imelda May and Friends also celebrates the great work that many of these artists do to raise awareness for the Simon Community, particularly their fundraising at the annual Christmas Eve Grafton Street Busk. We are thrilled to support the production of this Irish programme and it is one not to be missed.”

Produced by Red Shoe Productions in conjunction with Sky and Tourism Ireland, the special is directed by IFTA award-winning Maggie Breathnach, a Producer and Director with over two decades of experience.

Speaking about the special, Maggie Breathnach said: “Myself and the team at Red Shoe Productions are delighted to be working with Sky Arts and Imelda May again to celebrate Christmas in Ireland. Arts and Culture are the beating heart of what we do at Red Shoe and to have the opportunity to gather this incredibly talented group of musicians and artists together to celebrate kindness and the human spirit at Christmas was just an honour. We hope everyone watching at home feels the magic from the Pepper Cannister Church.”

‘Christmas in Ireland with Imelda May and Friends’, a Sky Original will premiere on Sky Arts and NOW, on Saturday 24th December at 9.30pm.

About Sky

Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of the Comcast group. Across six countries, we connect our 23 million customers to the best entertainment, sports, news, arts and to our own award-winning original content.

Following the launch of Sky Glass, we now offer customers our strongest ever line-up of products and services. As well as the new TV with Sky inside and everything integrated, customers can enjoy the award-winning Sky Q with all your favourite channels and apps in one place, and with Sky Go you can now access an even better experience on your devices. Sky TV has new channels, new shows and new deals with Peacock, Paramount+ and apps including Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, YouTube, ROXi, Highbrow, Fiit, and more. Our streaming service, NOW, brings viewers all the enjoyment of Sky with the flexibility of a contract-free service.

Building on the success of Sky Originals like Chernobyl, Gangs of London and Brassic, we are doubling our investment in original content by 2024 through Sky Studios which will open in 2022, is expected to create over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK over the first five years. Sky News provides impartial and trustworthy journalism for free and Sky Sports, our leading sports broadcasting service brings customers some of the biggest and best global sporting events from the Premier League to Formula 1 and everything in between. Sky Cinema is the home of Sky Original films with brand new films launching every month alongside an unrivalled range of the latest cinema releases and on demand library.

We believe that we can be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. We’re committed to being Europe’s first net zero carbon entertainment company by 2030 and we’re proud to be a Principal Partner and Media Partner of COP26. We take pride in our approach to diversity and inclusion: we’ve been recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our commitment to diversity, and we’ve set ambitious 2025 targets to continue to increase diversity and representation.We’re also committed to investing £30million across our markets over three years to improve our approach to diversity and inclusion, and to tackle racial injustice.

Sky employs just under 1000 people in Ireland with over 750 of those based at its Head Office in Burlington Road in Dublin. As part of our Sky Cares programme, we recently teamed up with Age Action to support the charity in its mission to achieve fundamental change in the lives of older people. In 2021, Sky Ireland became Primary Partner of the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team.

About Imelda May

Born and raised in The Liberties area of Dublin, Imelda has become one of Ireland’s most celebrated female artists in history. Her 2008 self-written & produced album ‘Love Tattoo’ is the best-selling album of all time by a homegrown female artist in Ireland and her most recent album “11 Past the Hour” marks her fourth Number 1 album in Ireland and fourth Top 10 in the UK.

Imelda’s recent albums are a departure from her early rockabilly revival style with a sound that sits firmly outside of any sharply defined genre box, widely spanning blues, rock, soul, gospel and jazz.

Imelda was discovered by Jools Holland, who asked her to support him on tour, she has gone onto perform alongside legendary artists including Lou Reed, U2, Tom Jones, Noel Gallagher, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison & most recently appearing on albums and associated tour with Jeff Goldblum and Ronnie Wood. She’s performed all over the world in front of royalty & politicians like Obama, to the 52nd Grammy Awards with Jeff Beck to singing the Irish national anthem in Las Vegas ahead of the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor fight in 2017 with a reported TV audience of 1 billion people across 200 countries.

Imelda has co-hosted BBC’s Later with Jools Holland and presented her own series “The Imelda May Show” for RTE Ireland in 2018. 2022 saw her first major film role opposite James Purefoy in Fisherman Friends 2 and present the SKY Arts literary travelogue series “Voices of Ireland”.

As well as selling millions of records worldwide, Imelda is also a Women’s Rights Activist and Poet, who released her first poetry book ‘A Lick & A Promise’ on Faber Music last year, instantly debuting at No.8 in the Irish Times Bestsellers Chart (Hardback Non Fiction)."

About Red Shoe Productions

Red Shoe Productions is an independent television production company based in Ireland. Founded in 2007 by Director Maggie Breathnach, Red Shoe has cemented its position as one of the leading arts and culture producers in the country over the past decade. Previous projects include the RTS-Award winning series, Voices of Ireland and IFTA-winning Seamus Heaney documentary, along with Ireland’s longest running arts magazine show, Imeall.

At Red Shoe Productions our mission and purpose is to create imaginative, intelligent, and thought-provoking programmes for a wide range of audiences and broadcasters. We're not afraid of difficult questions and uncharted waters! We are storytellers, who provide our audiences with visually distinctive content that resonates long after the show has aired.We love what we do. We deliver everything with passion and take pride in our work.