Time to show our appreciation for music and the arts – at last
Thirteen might be unlucky for some, but not so for Culture Night. This year marks its 13th year in Mayo, but it also sees the much-loved culture fest reemerge from the shackles of last year’s Covid restrictions. Venues all over the county will once again take part in the national event, throwing open their doors this Friday, September 17, and welcoming young and old to marvel at the output of our talented creative minds.
Culture Night’s theme for 2021 is ‘Inclusion, Human Rights and Diversity’, aligning with the second Creative Ireland pillar, ‘Enabling Creativity in Every Community’.
There will once again be a strong online aspect to this year’s festival, but outdoor events and a myriad of fantastic ‘real-world’ shows and activities are back on the menu. All in all, there will be over 30 free cultural events across the county.
Among the online events are ‘Music, Song and Dance from Foxford’, a video that will be premiered from the promenade in Foxford, beside the river Moy. Books at One in Louisburgh will be hosting ‘Comparisons – Female Composers and Female Writers’ with readings by poet Geraldine Mitchell, author Anne Chambers, surfer and environmental activist Easkey Britton and Shelly Upchurch, with music by members of the Louisburgh Music School.
Mayo Traveller Support Group will premiere ‘A Person Just Like You’, a video made with Traveller youth in Mayo, and Ballinrobe’s Tacú Family Resource Centre will celebrate folklore and traditions with online videos featuring members from all the communities in and around the town. In Claremorris, John Farragher will give an online talk inviting participants to consider the theme ‘Building Blocks to Multicultural Community’.
Scoil Acla will be hosting a night of Ceol, Craic agus Cultúr on its Facebook page, with a mix of ‘live’ performances with pre-recorded video clips. Meanwhile, Gnó Mhaigh Eo will provide entertainment from Irish musicians and storytellers on its Facebook page, while the Jackie Clarke Collection in Ballina will present the short film ‘Archive and Repository’.
In Westport, The Custom House Studios and Gallery at the Quay will host a traditional music and poetry evening, ‘Between the Lines’. The event will feature The Clew Bay Pipe Band, as well as a concert featuring music from the acclaimed Moynihan siblings – Deirdre Moynihan (vocals/fiddle), Diarmaid Moynihan (uilleann pipes) and Donncha Moynihan (guitar) – and poetry from renowned Mayo poet Ger Reidy.
The public will also have the opportunity to visit the working artist studios at the Custom House, as well as wander around the hugely popular outdoor exhibition ‘Sculpture at The Quay’, which has seen works by a range of sculptors populate the quayside area over the summer.
Indoors, the venue is currently showing two engrossing exhibitions – Pauline Garavan’s ‘Seeing Earth’ (see review here) and Vera Ryklova’s ‘Of the Body’ – and will be hosting meet-the-artist events with both artists on the evening.
Meanwhile, Westport Jazz will be hosting a gathering of local jazz artists, who will play to a small outside audience at Madden’s, The Clew Bay Hotel – an event that will be filmed for streaming on the Westport Jazz Facebook page after the event. The night will feature Westport blues, jazz and roots artist Joanne Keegan along with fellow guitarist Eddie Walsh, as well as popular local jazz trio Ain’t Misbehavin’.
In Áras Inis Gluaire, there will be an exhibition of print, painting and video by Pamela de Brí, entitled ‘Re: Place (Ionadú)’ – and the artist will also run a print-making workshop.
Ballyhaunis will host the delighfully conceived ‘Pushing an Open Door’ – an outdoor exhibition of doors painted with greetings in the languages of the many diverse communities in the town. Meanwhile, Ballinrobe’s Calli Collective will present Supper and Song as a celebration of the gift of food, heritage and culture.
Ballina 2023, a year-long celebration marking the 300th anniversary of the founding of the town, will premiere a specially commissioned promotional film on its new website, www.ballina2023.ie, and will also stage an open-air live music event at Tom Ruane Park.
The musical appreciation will be of a percussive nature at Glenisland NS, Barnastang, where bodhrán players new and experienced, young and old, are invited to an interactive Irish music workshop.
In the county town, the Castlebar Concert Band will perform on The Mall, while Collins Music Store will host a music session with Mayo musicians on Castle Street. The Linenhall Arts Centre presents ‘Walk ‘n Talk Arts and Creativity’ at Lough Lannagh, with five artists and a walk around the lake. For those who fancy a bit more exercise, there’ll also be yoga at St Mary’s Running Track.
Over in Turlough, the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life will extend its opening hours, as well as host a new photographic exhibition, ‘Field Work’, by Betsy Stirratt, in the Courtyard Gallery.
The wonderful Ballinglen Museum of Arts Foundation in Ballycastle is hosting storytelling as well as ‘Stoney Road Press: Twenty Years – A Survey’, a group exhibition with works from a range of artists, including Donald Teskey, Dorothy Cross and many more.
Last, but by no means least, the stunning Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park will see park guides recite poetry along the beautiful 2km Tóchar Daithí Bán Trail, rounded off with a feast of music from local talent at the Ballycroy Visitor Centre.
It has been a tough year and a half for the arts community. Somehow Culture Night seems more significant and more important than ever. Let’s all come out and show our Mayo artists that they’ve been sorely missed, while taking the opportunity to lose ourselves in their diverse creative visions.
Culture Night is strategically funded by Mayo County Council and the Arts Council and is supported by Creative Ireland and participating groups and venues in Mayo. For more information on the programme and each of the events, visit culturenight.ie.