Saturday 18 November 2017

Cruinniú na Cásca draws 550,000 to Easter culture and fun

Clockwise from left is Enda Kenny and Heather Humphreys with Diarmuid O’Donnell (16) Picture: Maxwells
Clockwise from left is Enda Kenny and Heather Humphreys with Diarmuid O’Donnell (16) Picture: Maxwells

Ryan Nugent, Nicola Anderson and Celine Naughten

It was the festival to celebrate our culture, remember our revolutionary leaders and bring together communities - and Cruinniú na Cásca didn't disappoint.

The 'Meeting at Easter' saw 550,000 people get out and about and involved on Easter Monday, right across the country.

Lúí O’Connor with his ceramic bowl. Photo: Damien Eagers
Lúí O’Connor with his ceramic bowl. Photo: Damien Eagers

Our musical heritage was in evidence at St Stephen's Green with performances from the Hothouse Flowers, Jerry Fish, Lisa Lambe and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

Dancing took over at Custom House where there were workshops from tango to Bollywood and bellydancing.

Even the Taoiseach got into the swing of things as he joined in with hundreds of dancers at the céilí mór and took a lesson how to perform the 'broom dance'.

"This is going to be an expression of Ireland to the world and will catch on over the next number of years," Mr Kenny said.

"There's music and culture and dance and song - it's a cruinniú, and that means not just a meeting, not just a gathering, it's about people, it's about ourselves, it's about who we are.

"We are a global people and we are about to prove it over the next number of years."

Amelia Russell (3) dancing with Grace Reilly (3) Photo: Frank McGrath
Amelia Russell (3) dancing with Grace Reilly (3) Photo: Frank McGrath

Joe Duffy took centre stage for a 'Liveline' special where he 'interviewed' historical figures from 1917, the year after the Easter Rising. The show also brought in relatives of those from that era.

Duffy is passionate about this period and explained every element of the show was from 1917.

RTÉ boss Dee Forbes and Lorelei Harris Picture: Kinlan Photography
RTÉ boss Dee Forbes and Lorelei Harris Picture: Kinlan Photography

"We're trying to make a history programme that's accessible to people and that people will talk about," he told the Irish Independent.

"I think our history is so important and it's so important we learn from it and appreciate what people did 100 years ago and what they suffered."

Friends Kay Kelleher, from Macroom, Co Cork, and Margaret Ryan, from Galway, made the journey having been so moved by last year's 'Reflecting the Rising' events.

"We go home this evening, and this has been a wonderful end to our weekend in Dublin," they said.

Picnic areas dotted around the city's four zones were ideal for families to sit and enjoy the free entertainment.

"It's been a great success and I'm certain it will grow and grow," said volunteer Patricia Pierce, a grandmother from Collinswood, Dublin, who recently set up her own business.

"I make personalised fridge magnets for the Irish abroad," she said. "I ask, what do you really miss about Ireland? And they say things like 'I miss me ma'. Right now I'm making a chicken fillet roll in magnet form for the CEO of Qantas Airlines, who's a Dub."

In Dublin Castle, there were talks throughout the day from director Lenny Abrahamson and poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill along with felt-making and coding workshops for kids.

The Chinese, Mexican, African, Peruvian and Brazilian communities were all represented with displays of their music, dance or food.

Outside of the capital, a further 31 local authorities hosted free, family focused events as part of the programme.

In Ballingcollig Gunpowder Mills, Cork, a military re-enactment group brought the crowds back to the 1600s to honour Irish soldiers who fought "for any army in any war", according to Bertie MacCurtain of The Pards, while in Kilkenny medieval life was explored at the Medieval Mile Museum at St Mary's Lane.

In Kerry, artists took part in the 'Lumina Beag' event in Dingle and historical figures were remembered at Kerry County Museum while children and their parents were on the hunt for fairies at Templemore Park, Tipperary.

Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Heather Humphreys said this is a programme that will grow and grow.

"I want to thank everyone who came out today to take part in our first Cruinniú na Cásca, Ireland's new culture day and an initiative of the Creative Ireland Programme," she said.

Irish Independent

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