Covid-19 curtain finally set to be lifted at the Laois Dunamise Arts Centre in Portlaoise

Culture Night marks the first big

Conor Ganly


Conor Ganly


coronavirus covid-19

Just like the Portlaoise Musical Society in 2019, the Dunamaise Arts Centre is set to break out of the Covid-19 chains

The curtains are finally set to go up again in the Dunamaise Arts Centre in Portlaoise after months of having its doors closed and events cancelled due to Covid-19.

Since the Lockdown began, the team at Dunamaise say they have continued working in the wings and now have fantastic events set in place for the re-opening of the centre’s gallery, theatre and workshop spaces.

They say this includes the hosting to two writers-in-residence - Kate Heffernan and David Butler in a scheme in conjunction with Creative Ireland Laois.

In a statement, the Dunamaise said audiences should not worry and be reassured that following a health and safety audit, every precaution has been taken to ensure a safe environment for all attendees. Management say these include sanitizing stations, perspex panels, socially distanced seating arrangements and extra cleaning measures. 

The curtains open on Friday 18 September for Culture Night as award-winning artist Blaise Smith, RHA takes to the stage for a Portrait Painting Masterclass from 6pm to 6.45pm with his model being Christy Bannon.

Christy is a local actor, singer and Pantomime personality who is an advocate for Mental Health and Ambassador for Cycle Against Suicide, who works in Portlaoise Prison.

Blaise Smith is a figurative painter who has exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad. His artistic practise documents Irish life in the 21st century with painterly realist works observed from life. A key interest is portraying a community of people connected by a common purpose. 

The Dunamaise say this will be followed by live portrait painting which will be streamed on Facebook and Instagram where a portrait of broadcaster and film-maker Ann-Marie Kelly will unfold live on stage as Blaise chats with his model throughout the process. More below picture.

The gallery will also be open on the night from 6-11pm with an exhibition by Annie Holland - Children of the Free State; supported by Dunamaise Arts Centre and Creative Ireland Laois, as part of the Creative Ireland Programme 2018-2022 in partnership with Laois County Council.

The café will be open from 6-9pm and will also feature an exhibition by Catherine Brennan.

At Fitzmaurice Place Plaza a visual art installation of a video projection will take place as Caroline Conway presents In Celebration of Helen Roe (1895-1988) screening at 10 minute intervals from 8-11pm.

Apart from Culture Night, the Dunamaise says a wonderful series of events will also take place this autumn at the centre.

Among the highlights of the season is Gerry Lynch’s dark and funny play According to Sydney, starring Rose Henderson on Saturday, September 26. The Banbha Quartet, a new Irish string quartet, made up of four of our finest chamber musicians, perform as part of the National String Quartet Foundation's celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth on Friday 2 October.  Renowned award-winning Irish band Goitse perform live and in a virtual concert on Saturday, October 3.

Also among the highlights are an array of cultural films on the cinema screen. more below picture.

These include A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood on Wednesday, October 14 in which Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers, in the timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life among many other riveting films to be looked forward to.

Aidan Dooley brings his renowned show Tom Crean, Antarctic Explorer in his dramatic and humorous solo performance on Tuesday, October 22 and is ideal for families. Families can also look forward to a visit from Jackula on Thursday, October 29 when he ventures on a spooktacular quest to become the world’s most magical vampire. More below picture.

Management say the centre's facilities are also available to companies, groups and organisations seeking venues for socially distanced meetings and events.

Enquiries can be made to the Manager Michelle de Forge (Email: Pre-booking is recommended and full details of events and safety guidelines can be seen on the arts centre’s website or enquiries and bookings can be made online or via the Box Office, Tel: 057 8663355.