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Crowds watch as performers from French arts group Royal de Luxe take to the streets of Limerick. Niall Carson

It's been Ireland's City of Culture, now Limerick is bidding to be Europe's

They are not the only Irish city interested though…

Updated 18.12pm

LIMERICK HAS ALREADY been Ireland’s City of Culture, but they are going after the big fish and announced that they are preparing to put in a bid to be the European Capital of Culture 2020.

Despite some controversy during their national reign, with the CEO and artistic designer stepping down from their positions, Limerick City and County Council state that the overall year was hugely successful with exceptional cultural projects having a long-term positive impact on the city.

Tender process

The councils said the tender process is currently underway to secure consultancy services to prepare the bid and confirmed that a local steering group, led by the local authority and comprising community, business interests and public representatives will be set up to direct and oversee Limerick’s preparations for a bid proposal.

Although the call for the bid to become European Capital of Culture has not yet been formally announced, they said the 2020 designation will be given to both Ireland and Croatia. The designated city/region is expected to be announced in early 2016.


Josephine Cotter Coughlan, Director of Community, Arts, Culture and Emergency Services in Limerick City and County Council said the European Capital of Culture initiative is one of the most prestigious and visible European cultural awards in the EU.

In bidding for the designation of European Capital of Culture 2020, Limerick wishes to maintain the climate of support for culture that has been achieved in 2014 thereby giving culture a real chance over a six-year period to help in delivering the economic, social and cultural benefits for the city.

She said the aim is to deliver a programme of cultural events and engagement in a city for one year, which also has a longer-term positive impact.

“The growth in visitor numbers to Limerick indicates the excellent Limerick cultural infrastructure that exists and the level of community participation. Limerick City of Culture 2014 has therefore set the seed for using culture as a driver for the city and county both socially and economically and we have embraced the European dimension of artistic and cultural life through the programme delivered in 2014,” said Cotter Coughlan. 

Meanwhile, Galway West Fine Gael TD and Chair of the Fine Gael Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Committee, Seán Kyne said concerns have been raised regarding the absence of the formal call for submissions which the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht must initiate under the EU process.

“This week the Mayor of Galway City, Cllr Donal Lyons contacted me regarding concerns that the Government had not yet initiated the call for applications from prospective cities which was in turn causing uncertainty and reducing the time that will be available to finalise Galway’s application,” said Kyne, who added that Galway also plans to put in a bid.

Having contacted the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, the Minister has assured me that she is to bring proposals to Cabinet in the next fortnight and moved to address concerns that Ireland would not be making a bid.

He said he was confident that Cabinet would make the right decision and initiate the call for applications from Irish cities and said he was hopeful that Galway will be successful in this competitive process.

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