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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gonna get me some culture

My Culture Night guide in today's Irish Daily Mail

Tonight, Irish culture vultures will be in their element as hundreds of venues in five cities around the country play host to the artistic extravaganza that is Culture Night.

For one night, museums, galleries, theatres, cathedrals, libraries, and dance and design studios throughout Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford will provide free cultural events for members of the public to enjoy until 11pm.

Just about every taste, whim and interest is catered for by the various cultural institutions taking part, ranging from the serious and the high brow, to the purely silly in the areas of dance, music, sport and literature.

The idea behind Culture Night is to extend the opening hours of these venues to accommodate those who might not have the time or the chance to visit otherwise. The majority of tonight’s events take place between 5-11pm, and most are free and family friendly. What’s more, there will be free buses available to ferry people between different venues. In Dublin, these buses leave every 20 minutes (until 10.20pm) from designated spots that are listed at

Culture Night has been taking place annually in Dublin since 2006, but this is the first year that other cities have joined in simultaneously. In the capital, the concept was first mooted by the Temple Bar Cultural Trust, who were inspired by the success of similar nights in other European countries.

Germany was the first country to develop the idea with the Long Night of the Museums in Berlin in 1997, followed in 2002 by Paris, where the mayor Bertrand Delanoe, oversaw the first Nuit Blanche (White Night), an all night cultural festival that takes place on the first weekend of October. Since then, the concept has spread not only here, but to Rome, Madrid, Brussells, as well as Chicago, Miami Beach and Tel Aviv.

In Ireland, Culture Night has grown in scale and ambition every year. In 2007, over 80,000 people came into Dublin city for Culture Night, and some organisations even broke their own attendance records. For instance, the Book of Kells had 5,000 visitors on the one evening, while Christchurch had 3,000.

Furthermore, research carried out by the organisers showed that 70 per cent – that’s some 50,000 people - were first time visitors to many of the cultural organisations. This year, Temple Bar Cultural Trust expects tonight’s turnout to top 100,000 visitors in Dublin alone.

So if you fancy an exhibition, a walking tour, poetry slam, a belly-dancing lesson, movie karaoke or even a giant game of Connect Four, then take a look at the Irish Daily Mail’s guide to just some of the activities to be sampled this evening in the five host cities:


Channel your inner Damien Hirst and paint your own masterpiece at ArtJam @ Culture Night in Curved Street Café, Curved Street, Temple Bar between 7-9pm. See (booking required).

Comedienne Maeve Higgins presents Do Your Own Culture! in the Peacock Theatre from 7pm. Maeve’s guests/victims include DJ Donal Dineen, RTE newsreader Bryan Dobson and colour writer Frank McNally. (booking for shows only).

Wannabe thespians should head to the Gaiety School of Acting in Temple Bar where there will be acting workshops for all ages, starting at 6.30pm. See for details.

The Dance House on Foley Street will host taster classes in ballet, flamenco and jazz, as well as classes in Ashtanga yoga, Pilates and belly-dancing! 6.30pm-9.30pm. Booking required. See or call 01 8558800.

Artist Laura Fitzgerald will host a session in the Talbot Gallery and Studios on Talbot St from 6-10pm where she will draw people’s childhood memories as described to her. You can keep a copy too! See or call 01 8556599.

Poetry Ireland has a drop-in open-mic poetry and prose night running from 6 -11pm in the Unitarian Church on St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. There will be special guests, spot prizes and music. See or call 01 4789974.

The RTE Symphony Orchestra performs music by Tchaikovsky and the world premiere of Crane by Donnacha Dennehy at the National Concert Hall at 8pm.

GAA-fanatics can take part in special floodlit evening tours and other sporting activities at the GAA Museum in Croke Park. Booking required. See

Older people can take part in an evening of dance, music, drama and photography at the Atrium, beside the Dublin City Council offices on Wood Quay.

There will also be light projections, street theatre, musicians and samba dancers around the city’s streets.

Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop is a Galway institution, and tonight, a raft of western writers, poets and dramatists will gather for public readings from 6-11pm. Admission free.

The Galway Dance Library is launched tonight at the City Library where Dancer-in-Residence, Tanya McRory, will present the new treasure trove of books, videos and DVDs on all forms of Irish and international dance, with a multi-media dance extravaganza to follow. Admission free, 6-9pm.

There is a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the Bold Art Gallery from 6pm, with music, exhibitions and a clay performance by Tom Campbell. Admission free, 6-11pm.

The country’s largest display of living marine and freshwater life is on display in the Atlantaquaria in Salthill. There will be free tours and lectures until 9pm. See

St Nicholas’ Collegiate has a free concert from 6.15-8.30pm featuring the Galway Youth Orchestra, the Galway Choral Association and singer-songwriter John Faulkner.

The Town Hall theatre plays host to a documentary on the Druid Theatre Company’s acclaimed run of Synge plays. Free admission, 6-7pm.

There will also be free street performances from local artists Andrias de Staic and Little John.

The Lewis Glucksman Gallery at UCC has screenings of animated children’s films from 5-8pm, and Film Karaoke from 8-11pm, where artist Fiona Dowling will ask the audience to act out the dialogue from famous movie scenes.

John Lambert hosts a visual art exhibition at the Vanguard on French Church St, as well as a musical performance as his alter ego, Chequerboard.

There are dance classes and workshops taking place in the Firkin Crane centre, Shandon, from 5pm.

John Spillane, Camille O’Sullivan and opera singer Cara O’Sullivan host Musical Walking Tours of the city. Pre-booking is essential – call 021 4924780 or email:

The Blackrock Castle Observatory will throw open its doors to star gazers until 10pm, where guests can send an email into outer space and track its navigation, amongst other astronomical treats.

The Irish Chamber Orchestra will play at the CIT Cork School of Music on Union Quay at 8pm.
Cork Arts Centre presents a Writing for the Stage workshop from 5-7pm, an art exhibition from 7.30-9pm and theatre from 9-10pm.

The Friday Night Arts Meltdown takes place at the Greyfriars' Municipal Gallery, featuring a concert by Ugly Megan and a table quiz MC’d by Krazy Konor Halpin. From 7pm (table quiz suitable for over 16s only). Call 051 849856/7.

Director Ben Barnes and architect Ken Wigham discuss the restoration of the Theatre Royal from 7pm to 9pm. To book, contact 051 874402

Lady Lane Library hosts an evening of ghost story telling led by Anne Farrell. Starting at 8.30pm. To book, call 051 849975

The Manifesto Gallery on Georges Street will have screenings of John Kingerlee in Film, alongside a solo exhibition by internationally acclaimed Kingerlee. Screenings at: at 7, 8 and 9 pm.

The creative teams behind street art group Spraoi reveal the secrets of their costumes and props at The Studios in Carrickpherish from 7-9pm. Call 051 841808

There are free guided tours of Christ Church Cathedral from 6pm, as well as Annie Brophy’s exhibition, Wedding Bells.

There are free tours of Waterford Museum of Treasures at the Granary until 10pm, plus the opening of Gerard Squires’ exhibition. To book, contact 051 304500

Limerick City Library hosts giant games of snakes and ladders, Jenga and Connect Four, along with juggling, face painting and puppet shows in both the Granary and Watch House Cross branches from 5pm.

Brian Hodkinson, the assistant curator of Limerick City Museum, leads a free walk of the city walls from 5pm, taking in King John’s Castle and stretching around English and Irish towns. Starts at the King John’s Visitor Centre. Phone 061 417826

There is a choreographed performance by Michael Klien at the new base of the Daghda Dance Company in the former Church of St John of the Cross from 6-8pm.

A solo exhibition by Sean Molony is launched at the Hunt Museum at 7pm, and there will also be tours of the museum’s some 2,000 works of art.

Actor Mike Finn hosts an art bingo night at Limerick City Gallery of Art from 8pm, which also hosts Michael McLoughlin’s exhibition, I Only Come Here Cos It’s Free! and a new exhibit by Turner Prize-winner Simon Starling.

Conradh na Gaeilge on Thomas Street is open until 10pm for bilingual dances, music and storytelling.

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