Friday 18 January 2019

Culture vultures enjoy free-for-all

Towns and cities throw open doors for festivities

Lithuanian musician Dominykas Vysniauskas plays the trumpet to celebrate his country's EU presidency on Dublin's Dawson Street
Lithuanian musician Dominykas Vysniauskas plays the trumpet to celebrate his country's EU presidency on Dublin's Dawson Street
Culture Night volunteer David Jackman with a stuffed gibbon in UCC
Mariella Kingsbury with an edible Oscar Wilde at the Doorway Gallery on South Frederick Street, Dublin
Siofra Connolly (3) and her sister Sabdhb (4) making robots in Kilkenny Arts Office

Louise Hogan and Majella O'Sullivan

DOORS normally kept firmly shut come those murky twilight hours were thrown wide open.

Throngs of people brought the streets of the country's towns and cities to life as they soaked up the festival-like atmosphere of Culture Night.

Families and tourists alike eagerly grasped the chance of a free glimpse behind the doors of cathedrals, Dublin Castle's State Rooms and underground vaults, as well as a multitude of art and history galleries.

The opportunity to ogle the famous Book of Kells without handing over a cent meant the queues snaked around the cobblestones of Trinity College.

Some of the exhibits proved mouth-wateringly tempting and it was standing room only at Goodall's Edible Art Gallery, aka the Doorway Gallery, on South Frederick Street.


A bust of Oscar Wilde sculpted out of cake and a hair-raising 'bride' from the 'Day of the Dead' made out of thousands of rice krispies drew hundreds through the door.

"It took two weeks to make," admitted patient baker and DIT student Rebecca Germaine (20). "I used Rice Krispies, modelling chocolate, and fondant for the lace. People seem to really like it, they think it is a little creepy."

At the door the gallery had installed a 'stop and go' system to cater for the hundreds of people pouring in to explore.

Outside on South Frederick Street, there was sketching and music, with Bonnie Ryan (20), daughter of the late Gerry Ryan, taking to the microphone to sing. Dubliner Clodagh O'Reilly will be making a return trip to next year's Culture Night; her daughters Zoe (7) and Emily Lynch (9) made figures out of potatoes and vegetables, and enjoyed the party-like atmosphere. Organisers hailed it as the most successful since Culture Night was first dreamt up in 2006, with 1,400 free events attended by some 350,000 people countrywide.

Many were simply enjoying sitting back and listening to the tunes of Julie Feeney, O Emperor and The Walls at Meeting House Square in Temple Bar.

Some were eager to see just what those politicians get up to in the Dail with more than 1,650 people snapping up tickets for free tours of Leinster House.

One politician missing-in-action was Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan. He had made a sojourn to his native Kerry, where he kicked off the proceedings in the Town Square in Listowel.

"Whether you engage with culture a little or a lot there is really something for everyone this Culture Night," he said.

In Listowel, they were celebrating a competition first dreamt up by playwright John B Keane and his friend half a century ago for the Wren Boys.

Cavan hosted the country's biggest book club with its '100 Books with a Difference', where professional actors and writers read from the top 10 chosen.

In Co Offaly, artists Tom Meskell and Jean Conroy brought members of the public back to hedge school with a workshop on the limitless opportunities for making art in the natural environment, using natural materials.

Galway chose to ignite the senses of its Culture Night revellers with an exhibition of interactive light projections, while south Tipperary adopted a hands-on approach to culture and explored the traditional methods of medieval hat making, giving participants the chance to create their own piece of headwear.

In Belfast, they were making music with the Fruit and Veg Orchestra where no musical experience was necessary but fresh produce essential. Bananas, sweet potatoes and parsnips were handed out free of charge so everyone could join in the fun.

Irish Independent

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