Historian and author Liz Gillis gives her top picks for this year’s Culture Night
Culture Night is a celebration of our heritage, culture and history, told in a variety of ways. Our cultural institutions are inviting us to come in, take a look, hear the stories, our streets are inviting us to take a walk and discover our city from a different perspective. This year, there are over 300 free events, in-person and online, in over 250 venues all across Dublin and beyond.
One hundred years ago, Dublin city was a battlefield, the Civil War was raging, the scars of which can be seen on many of our buildings today, including the Four Courts, which was headquarters of the anti-Treaty IRA when the Civil War began in June 1922. On Culture Night the Four Courts is hosting a recital by the Castle String Quartet in the Round Hall, which was destroyed in the Civil War, a screening of Billy Wilder’s classic film, Witness for the Prosecution in the historic Supreme Court and guided tours.
For those interested in crafts or just trying something new, there are demonstrations and workshops galore. Starting on the southside of the city in the Liberties and Historic Quarter the Liberties Weavers, winners of the Community Archives Awards 2022 are hosting two weaving demonstrations in Fumbally Stables and Kevin Street Library, a beautiful Victorian building which opened in 1904. The library will screen The Story of the Tenters, a film which celebrates the centenary of the Tenters Housing Scheme, the first housing scheme built by the Free State.
A short walk away, on Lennox Street, the Bretzel Bakery will host a number of tours on how food culture has changed and lockdown sourdough mania where guests will receive a free sourdough starter. In Camden Row you will also find the Jewish Portobello tour, and discover the rich Jewish history of the area.
Continuing towards town, a must see is the Chester Beatty in Dublin Castle. Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, a successful mining engineer and philanthropist, bequeathed his private library to the Irish State on his death. The only Irish Institution to ever win the European Museum of the Year Award, visitors can take a workshop in origami or sketchbook-making. There will also be live music from Edel Meade Jazz Trio.
In the last two years, podcasts have become increasingly popular. For those wishing to learn more make sure to visit The Podcast Studios in Magennis Place, where you can take a tour of the studio and make your own five-minute podcast with a producer.
And crossing the Liffey there are as many workshops on offer including Mind the Step on Strand Street Great who will be hosting one-hour lessons in belly dance, Indian choreography, ballet for LGBTQ, tango, hip hop, street jazz and salsa Cubana. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
And not forgetting artists, drop in to No 32 North Brunswick Street. Here you will find Damn Fine Print, where you will create your own limited edition print and The Darkroom, which is hosting a workshop on how to create photographic prints without using a camera. If you love screen printing or photography, this is definitely for you.
But Culture Night is not just about celebrating our heritage. It is also about celebrating the people from our past and present, and this year there are a number of events remembering our trailblazing women.The Abbey Theatre, home of the National Theatre of Ireland, and birthplace of so many of our great actresses will host the world premiere of Edna O’Brien’s Joyce’s Women, which gives voice to the women who were central to the life of James Joyce. The Abbey is also the starting point for The Amazing Women of Ireland walking tour, which highlights the role women played in art, politics and culture. O’Connell Bridge is the starting point for the Never Business as Usual tour which looks at the businesswomen of 19th-century Dublin.
Bringing it up to the present day, visit the Lab Gallery on Foley Street to see the exhibition, O, To Have Little House, the first major solo exhibition by visual artist Michelle Malone.
What is great about Culture Night is that it offers the opportunity for people to see places they may not be aware of, to see how our cultural spaces work and there is a wealth of places to choose from including some hidden gems. First off there is the Manuscript Archive in the Valuation Office in the Irish Life Centre, which houses the earliest complete census record for Ireland, covering the period from the mid-1850s through to 1901.
Crossing over the Rosie Hackett Bridge, opened in 2014 and the only Liffey bridge named after a woman, visit the Dublin City Library and Archive, which is the guardian of the heritage and history of Dublin city.
Culture Night takes place on September 23. The packed programme has something for everyone, no matter what their age or background. So go out and be a tourist for the night. For more information visit www.culturenightdublin.ie