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Saturday 10 June 2023 Dublin: 17°C
# Culture Night
Coddle, queens and Lady Gaga: Culture Night Preview Bus
Fifty lucky readers (and one editor) were treated to a whistlestop preview of next Friday’s hotspots – with poetry, storytelling and music in between stops.

Mike Nolan Mike Nolan

IF YOU’VE NEVER participated in Culture Night in your area, we’ve just one recommendation: do it this year.

Next Friday, 19 September, is Culture Night 2014 when thousands of venues around the country throw their doors open to the public for a celebratory evening of heritage, culture, arts, fun and events of all sorts, for all tastes, for all ages.

A full database of what’s on in towns and cities around the country is here on but to give a taste of what is on in the capital, teamed up with Dublin Bus to get 50 readers on a bus and tote them on a whistlestop tour of just three of hundreds of brilliant locations open next Friday.

Dublin Bus is putting on free bus routes every 20 minutes on Culture Night to whisk people across the city to various cultural quarters*.

They will have a bespoke programme of performances on the buses including music, spoken word and – for people lucky enough to catch her – this year’s incredibly talented winner of the Texaco Children’s Art competition, Shania McDonagh, will be doing quick pencil sketches of passengers.

Remember Shania’s work?

Culture Night Culture Night Dublin Bus #CultureNight Preview Bus took off from Bachelor’s Walk last Thursday night.  The craic started early with fiddlers on the roof (okay, the back seat) of the bus creating the atmosphere on our way to Windmill Lane Recording Studios in Ringsend.

Windmill Lane is, of course, synonymous with U2 – although it has built up a global reputation with recording artists so that everyone from Lady Gaga (who was there just a month ago) to The Rolling Stones have set up shop in there to record.

Interesting fact: the recording studios are not, in fact, “where the graffiti is” on Windmill Lane – they have been in Ringsend in a fabulous old art deco building for decades. But let’s not tell the hordes of Spanish students who descend on the lane that Bono’s not knocking around there.

A little tip for Culture Night – Windmill Lane Recording is open for tours to see where the magic happens, but it’s also hosting two intimate gigs from Relish that night – they are free, but for 50 people each time, so it’s first come, first served (ie, get there when doors open at 5pm).

Mike Nolan Mike Nolan

On then to the lavish State apartments of Dublin Castle – with a storytelling session from the energetic folks at Storymap along the way (lesson of the particular story we heard – don’t get too big for yer boots):

Mike Nolan Mike Nolan

Dublin Castle is a place we normally only get to see the gilt-edged inside of when there is a State function, such as the banquet to welcome Queen Elizabeth I, or the inauguration of President Michael D Higgins…

Anwar Hussein / Anwar Hussein/EMPICS Entertainment/PA Images Anwar Hussein / Anwar Hussein/EMPICS Entertainment/PA Images / Anwar Hussein/EMPICS Entertainment/PA Images

But it was access (almost all) areas, led by surely the most knowledgeable tour guide in the Castle. Any question about who’s who in those portraits, what happened to the Irish Crown Jewels, and any other trivia you can think up – and readers are an inquisitive lot – he was up to the challenge.

Including this tidbit – the little footstool below this throne was made for Queen Victoria, so she would look more elegant clambering into the throne vacated by the overweight and oversized King George…

Culture Night Preview Tour (6) Mike Nolan There are readers, legging it up to to State apartments at Dublin Castle. Mike Nolan

Back on the bus, the poetry slam was getting energetic…

And so on to a well-deserved slurp of coddle at the James Joyce House of the Dead on Usher’s Island:

The house is that which Joyce’s aunts lived in, and which inspired his short story masterpiece, The Dead. The Georgian building has itself been resurrected from a near grave by Brendan Kyne and his army of volunteers.

We were led through the history-laden and artistic surroundings by Kyne himself, a man whose passion and vigour for the project prompted a round of applause from the 60-odd of us watching him operate a hand press in the reclaimed basement. (And yes, Brendan, we do think you should put in a wine bar there, so we can all come back and visit).

Mike Nolan Mike Nolan

This was just a taster of the vast array of events for Culture Night. In Dublin, there is also a nice central touch with RTÉ Radio’s Arena culture programme taking to the stage in Meeting House Square from 7pm with a line-up of interviews, music, drama and comedy, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Jack L, Oliver Callan, readings from John Banville and Pat McCabe and more.

Our friends at Culture Night recommend clicking through to see what is on in your part of the country. But they have a few special recommendations:

  • Hospital Show Window Festival: Running from Culture Night until the following Friday, 26 September, the main street of Hospital, Co Limerick will use shopfronts for visual arts;
  • Boat trips with Meitheal Mara: A 40ft Bantry Bay longboat and a Naomhóg currach will be used to show the city of Cork as you’ve never seen it. These boats were handcrafted by Meitheal Mara, Cork’s community boatyard;
  • Belfast Roller Derby: The Belfast Banshees and the Norn Iron Maidens will demo their hard-hitting, fast-paced sport at Writer’s Square;
  • Lisa O’Neill at Cavan County Museum: The witty lyrics and singular voice of Lisa O’Neill will entertain at the museum on Culture Night – she’s just back from touring with David Gray.

* The Dublin Bus routes for Culture Night see buses depart every 20 minutes from Bachelor’s Walk, Aston Quay, Trinity College and Parkgate Street. The Parkgate Street one will cater for this year’s new Culture Night locations in the Phoenix Park (Áras an Úachataráin and Farmleigh).

Heritage Ireland: hidden gems around Ireland you really should visit>

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