Sunday 20 January 2019

Free family fun while engaging with our culture and heritage

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks at the launch of the Creative Ireland Programme 2017-2022 in The National Gallery.
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks at the launch of the Creative Ireland Programme 2017-2022 in The National Gallery.

Fionnán Sheahan, Editor, Irish Independent

Free family fun: the goal of Cruinniú na Cásca is pretty simple.

Of course, there's a wider message about putting culture and creativity at the heart of communities across the country.

By showcasing our culture and ensuring engagement at every level, it makes it clear the arts are for all our citizens to enjoy.

Although this is the first year of Cruinniú na Cásca, the concept has had a test drive on the streets of Dublin over the past two years, with the Road to the Rising and Reflecting the Rising events.

This time around though, the idea is to extend what is fast becoming a fixture on the cultural calendar right across the country, as part of the Creative Ireland initiative.

While Cruinniú na Cásca has grown from the experience of the previous two years, the events in other counties are just getting started.

That spirit of inclusion which was the hallmark of the Ireland 2016 Easter Rising 100th anniversary commemorations has now extended to participation in cultural events.

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys says the aim of Cruinniú na Cásca is to encourage people to become involved in the cultural life of their own county through a national day of creativity. In establishing Creative Ireland, the minister said Cruinniú na Cásca was top of the list of ambitious targets for year one.

She says after the success of the Ireland 2016 events, it would be "a mistake" not to seize on it.

"I am particularly keen to spread things right across the country. We have asked every local authority to create a programme this year, with a view to building it up, so it's a much bigger event into the future. It's about getting it started this year with a view to everybody having their own Cruinniú," she tells the Irish Independent.

"This will be a new national cultural day and it will become a cultural fixture. It is all about focusing on communities, engagement and participation in cultural activity on Easter Monday. So it's about building on the momentum that was built in the last two years."

The minister says Cruinniú na Cásca is about "looking at our heritage and history but it's also about modern Ireland".

"It is about free family fun and the focus is on culture," she says. "If we engage with culture, it is good for our wellbeing. This is all about engagement in local culture. But it is whatever people want to do in terms of connecting with their culture."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny says the event "celebrates community, creativity, and culture". He says it is about individual and collective self-expression through participation in cultural events.

"The centenary of 1916 taught us many things about ourselves, but two in particular: first, that as a people we are profoundly interested in our history and our heritage: second, that we express our true feelings about history, heritage and identity through our culture," he tells the Irish Independent.

"In 2016 we discovered that culture opens up a common ground in which everyone has a voice, in which there is equality of respect and value, and a willingness to engage with difference.

"On Easter Monday last year, the day after the formal State commemoration of the 1916 Rising, hundreds of thousands of people, of many nationalities and all ages, came out on to the streets of our capital city in a shared exploration of identity, citizenship and culture. It was a day of community, friendship and shared celebration."

Mr Kenny says Cruinniú na Cásca is about "extending that opportunity for cultural celebration to the entire country".

"It is an exercise in joyful citizenship, a declaration of faith in ourselves, a statement of belief that we can build a future in which the creative capacities of every person and every community can find expression," he says.

Irish Independent

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