Evening descends on a warm Autumn day, and Dublin springs to life. Welcome to Culture Night in the capital, a veritable feast of festivity and fun.
There`s an app, of course. And a booklet. Oh, and a website too. But, pressed for time, I decided to venture forth and take the city as I found it, my only rule being “Don`t queue for more than ten minutes”
That saw me safely into St Anne`s Church, Dawson Street. An Episcopalian Church, I wandered about aimlessly, taking in the beautiful stained glass and sensing, despite the shuffling feet of the curious throngs, the peace within. Worth a return visit, for a concert perhaps, or maybe, should I ever decide to become more spiritual again, a service.
Lithuania holds the presidency of the European Union right now. The European Offices in Dawson St. threw open their doors to welcome the crowds. Two Lithuanian jazz musicians struggled to keep them entertained, while two pleasant girls struggled to find sufficient plastic cups into which to dispense wine. Evidently, there was more wine than plastic cups. A bad sign, I suspect. I eagerly supped of the European wine lake. Only to discover it is deeply polluted.
Thus cured of my need for alcohol, I scouted around for other less toxic cultural treats.
The Mansion House tour seemed promising…but, alas, the sign declared that my assigned place in the queue would find me waiting for an hour. I scurried on to the Little Museum instead.
I was thrilled to see Molly Bloom soliloquy advertised there. And, the man at the bottom of the stairs assured me of a place. I eagerly ascended the three flights, only to be turned away. All seats were taken, apparently. Oh well.
I rambled around the ground floor instead. An exhibition there was devoted to the Irish emigrant experience in America.
Showing the Irish fascination with the most famous of Irish emigrants, the Kennedys, it even displayed the lectern at which JFK spoke during his visit here in 1963.
Another queue led to another room in the museum. But I hadn`t the patience to follow it. A sign declared late and free opening on all Thursdays. So I resolved to return for a closer and calmer look the next Thursday I`m in town.
Next stop, the National History Museum. My rule with museums is to just take in two or three items and ponder on them. And I hadn`t seen this wheel before. Isn`t it fantastic? The sign said it had been found in a bog in County Roscommon and dated from 400 BC.
So the Irish reinvented the wheel. Love it!
Loved all the culture night advertising too. A lot of places hosting a Culture Night event-and there were one hundred and ninety six of them in Dublin-hung balloons outside to advertise their involvement and draw the crowds.
Art Galleries were among the many to throw open their doors. This one, Gallery Six, was beside Kehoe`s pub and had a delightful Peter Price watercolour of Kehoe`s in it`s window. There were other Price watercolours within. However, my camera was eyed with deep suspicion by the shop assistants. Feeling distinctly unwanted, I fled back into the merry throng.
And followed it down to Temple Bar.
That place was heaving. RTE were broadcasting a three hour Art Show special from the place. Maybe that`s why the crowd had gathered. Or maybe Temple Bar is like that on any Friday night. Onwards so, to the relative tranquillity of Dublin Castle.
What`s this? Another notice declared that the city walls had been excavated deep in the bowels of the castle itself. I followed the crowd down into the basement and we rambled along by the old walls along a steel walkway.
It was surreal. I felt like I was peeking through a glass wall at medieval life. There were helpful murals depicting medieval city scenes and the moat could clearly be seen, complete with water which no doubt seeped up from the marshy ground.
another taste of live music. This time, a quartet played. You`ll just about see them in the photo, in the upper floor of the Bell Tower. People stood beneath, spellbound by the sounds of Bach and Vivaldi, just as they had centuries ago. Sheer delight.
Music swirling through my head, and fatigue nipping at my heels, I bade farewell to Culture Night in the fine surroundings of City Hall.
Dublin 1913 was sprawled across the exhibition area and as a particular hero of mine, Daniel O`Connell, stood guard, like the giant he was in Irish history
I`d swear he was blessing the crowd beneath and telling them to Go forth, enjoy the festivities.
But, I had had my fill of cultural tasters by then. It was time to head for the Chook House.
Later, in the car, on the short journey home, I caught the tail end of the Radio One Arena programme as Carmen`s Habanera rang out from Temple Bar. A swirl of a gypsy skirts seemed the perfect way to end evening`s festivities and a perfect time to promise to be back again. No, not next year-sooner. This time, for bigger bites than the mere morsels I`d enjoyed.
That`s the point of it all. See what you like and come back for more.
I hope there`s a Culture Night near you.