Culture Night in Laois was a great success with twenty one separate events happening in the county on Friday 22nd September.
The highlight event included Anam- Siamsa Tíre, The National Folk Theatre of Ireland performance at the Dunamaise Arts Centre where the packed theatre were mesmerized by performances by four world-class step dancers from the US, Canada and Ireland including Matthew Olwell (Appalachian Flat Foot) Jonathan Kelliher (North Kerry “Munnix”) Nathan Pilatzke (Ottawa Valley, Canada) and John Fitzgerald (Modern Irish) in an exhilarating fusion of dance styles with live music and song by Fergal Ó Murchú, Mikey Smith (pipes & tin whistle) and Joseph McNulty (bodhrán & guitar). The audience took to their feet at the end of the show in appreciation of the amazing show that they had witnessed.
The weather stayed fine for a colourful and entertaining outdoor Samba Drum Performance at The Plaza, Áras an Chontae, Portlaoise, led by drumming specialist Peter Crann and visiting Samba Band "Itchy Feet Drummers" from Sligo who were joined members of the Music Generation Laois Samba group and children from the Holy Family School, Portlaoise.
Exploring Cultural Connections – at the Parish Centre, in Portlaoise was also a huge success with a great crowd attending to enjoy a myriad of performances and displays including; Lithuanian dancing, a Polish traditional dress display, a Syrian singing group and traditional Irish dancing and music. Visitors got the opportunity to try a traditional Irish musical instrument with Portlaoise Comhaltas and join in the exploration of different cultures.
Also in Portlaoise a late night event The Equinox: Live Art at Kavanaghs brought in the audiences to enjoy a night dedicated to experimental dance, video art, storytelling, live painting, and poetry. Earlier in the day students enjoyed storytelling with renowned storyteller Jack Lynch at Portlaoise Library and art lovers enjoyed the opening of Bennie Reilly New Works at the Dunamaise arts Centre.
Stradbally Arthouse Gallery opened for extended hours to showcase 'Time and Space' - A Celebration of Texaco Children's Art Success in Laois, curated by Lucy Deegan, this years winner of the competition and the 2017 Laois Culture Night Ambassador. The exhibition the winning painting and 8 other works by Lucy and work by young Laois artists who featured highly in the competition including: Ciarán Leonard (age 13), Asma Zulfiqar (age 14), and Abdul Ahad Zulfiqar (age 6). Artworks originating from the Texaco Children’s Art Competition on loan by kind permission of Valero Energy (Ireland) Limited.
Ballyfin hosted two very successful events as traditional music lovers enjoying an evening of music, dance, song, stories, cúpla focal agus cupán tae at An Sean Chistin and artist Kevin McCann opened his studio to welcome visitors to see where and how he creates his artwork with refreshments and some music added in.
Mountrath also enjoyed an open Studio event as design Studios ‘Figure2Ground’ artists welcomed a large group of visitors into their showroom at the Left Bank House to view their amazing designs and enjoy music and some refreshments.
Tours of our heritage sites included entry to Emo Court for two free tours of the House and the exhibition on show “Through the Eyes of Father Browne" – and Roundwood House opened their doors this year to visitors to enjoy a tour of their beautiful Georgian period home and grounds. Owners Paddy and Hannah Flynn were delighted with the response and the level of interested shown in this event.
In Mountmellick Library a landscape painting demonstration by artist Tom Joyce was a great draw and was booked out early and a large crowd turned out to enjoy a reading by local author Sheelagh Coyle, from stories of her life and experiences.
The Hawthorne Bar in Portarlington hosted a very successful traditional evening with Portarlington Comhaltas Group and art lovers turned out in strength for the opening of anExhibition of Paintings ‘The Fight for Colour and Wonder’ by new young artist Melissa Donagher at the French Restaurant in the French Quarter in Portarlington.
Rathdowney Mens’ Shed also opened their doors to the public for an evening of music, song and the spoken word and to display their wonderful woodcraft.
Comhaltas groups in Laois had a busy evening with Spink Comhaltas hosting a wonderful traditional evening at Spink Community Hall and Camross Comhaltas hosting two shows in the Poets Cottage in Camross. Members of Ratheniska Comhaltas also brightened the evening for residents of Droimnin Nursing Home, Stradbally with traditional Irish music performances for residents, family and friends.
The Arts Office are delighted with the level of participation and the level of fun that was had on the nightand wish to thank all those involved in organising events in Laois. Next years programme is already being planned and we hope for greater participation and more events to be added.
For a full gallery of pictures from the night in Laois click here
For more information contact: The Arts Office, Laois County Council, Áras an Chontae, Portlaoise, Co Laois T: 057 8664033/13 E: firstname.lastname@example.org or W: www.laois.ie or visit the National Culture Night website www.culturenight.ie
Culture Night is brought to you by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Creative Ireland Programme in partnership with Laois County Council. An Roinn Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta a dhéanann comhordú ar an Oíche Chultúir, i gcomhpháirt le Comhairle Chontae Laoise.