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Samba drums and secret gigs set the beat for Culture Night

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Spiderman at the Will Sliney exhibition in County Hall for Cork County Culture Night

Spiderman at the Will Sliney exhibition in County Hall for Cork County Culture Night

Sara Mitchell (Trinity College student from Little Rock, Arkansas but living in Dublin) and Claire Nolan (from Kildare Town) stand at attention after participating in a free introductory class on Fencing during Culture Night at St Patricks Park in Dublin,

Sara Mitchell (Trinity College student from Little Rock, Arkansas but living in Dublin) and Claire Nolan (from Kildare Town) stand at attention after participating in a free introductory class on Fencing during Culture Night at St Patricks Park in Dublin,

Barbara Lindberg

Ciara Doody getting her face painted  in County Library for Cork County Culture Night.

Ciara Doody getting her face painted in County Library for Cork County Culture Night.

History comes to life at Áras An Uachtarain on Culture Night: A watershed moment in Irish history as Ireland's first President, Douglas Hyde (played by Barrington Cullen), signs his first piece of legislation (the Collection of Taxes Bill, 1938) with Secretary General Michael McDunphy (played by John Furlong) looking on.

History comes to life at Áras An Uachtarain on Culture Night: A watershed moment in Irish history as Ireland's first President, Douglas Hyde (played by Barrington Cullen), signs his first piece of legislation (the Collection of Taxes Bill, 1938) with Secretary General Michael McDunphy (played by John Furlong) looking on.

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Spiderman at the Will Sliney exhibition in County Hall for Cork County Culture Night

Who could go straight home from work when the beguiling beat of the samba drum beckoned from a street corner?

Or the foot tapping sound of a trad session, or the mesmerising lilt of a flamenco dancer promising a pocket of sunshine on a gloomy grey night.

With the lure of culture far too strong to resist, a good deal of fast-food was bolted down across the country last night as the nation stayed out to party.

In Dublin, hidden corners of the city usually off-bounds were alive with chatter with queues for the historical attractions of the State apartments in Dublin Castle.

At the Cervantes Institute, a flamenco class proved a lively riposte to the rain as dancers Deirdre Laffan, Elena McIlroy De La Rossa and Carla Navarro taught the brave how to flourish their hips with attitude.

Temple Bar was filled with camera phone wielding tourists agog at the multitude of events taking place.

Even the smallest piece of street theatre or the humblest busker offered plenty to hold the attention.

But the night was far too short to allow more than a 'tapas' sampling of the main dishes.

Shortly after 9pm, a bagpipes parade on Grafton street was one of the many cultural surprises on offer as the Seattle Police Pipes and Drums band showcased their stuff.

In Cork more than 200 separate events were organised in places ranging from Cork city to Castletownbere and from Fota to Fermoy.

One of the highest profile events was a 'secret concert' by singer-songwriter, Lisa Hannigan, at the 17th Century Elizabeth Fort which Cork City Council hopes to turn into one of Ireland's top tourist attractions.

Other attractions included comic book artist, Will Sliney, showing the pages he drew for a 2009 episode of Spiderman at an exhibit in Cork Co Hall.

A special concert was offered in Fota House by Paul Tiernan while Garry McCarthy, aka GMC, offered a hip-hop and rap workshop in Mitchelstown Library.

University College Cork (UCC) offered free campus tours, lectures on Irish and Viking history and even displays of some of its most bizarre items including a Gharial (an Indian cousin of the crocodile).

In Kerry a tradition that was started by playwright John B Keane over 60 years ago was part of Culture Night Celebrations.

The late playwright and Dr Johnny Walsh started the Wren Boys All-Ireland Competition that has always coincided with the Listowel Harvest Racing Festival.

Over the years the competition has hosted up to 20 groups that are usually only seen on St Stephen's Night.

In Killarney, among the events was an evening of music hosted by the Kerry Diocesan Youth Service, a World War I exhibition at the library while Gneeveguilla held an evening of music from the Sliabh Luachra area.

R2:D2 ate its heart out in Galway last night as the city showcased a selection of both vintage and modern robots at the National Computer and Communications Museum. Included was the 'Star Wars'-esque HERO 1, the world's first mass-produced robot capable of interacting with the environment.

Technology was also at the forefront of a specially-themed walking tour by public artist Fiona Reilly, who took locals and visitors alike past the city's CCTV cameras and interrogated our ideas surrounding privacy.

In Letterkenny, Co Donegal more than 2,000 people flocked to the town park to see a spectacular illuminated artwork display.

An Cosán Glas, a Gaeltacht based artists collective, said the event was to get the All-Ireland weekend off to a bright and luminous start by offering the Donegal public a chance to view their beautiful, illuminated sculptures before the big game. In Sligo German-born artist Bettina Seitz was on hand at the artists workshop to help children make sculptures.

In the town's theatre everyone got to take part in a drama workshop hosted by the Blue Raincoat Theatre Company while music fans flocked to Lyons' Cafe for 'The Big Bang', a music workshop bringing together different styles of music.

Irish Independent