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Opinion Take a walk on the dark side in Ireland's spookiest city

Ever wanted to create your own monster?

During October 22nd -25th, Limerick City will be the home of the Locating the Gothic festival and conference – featuring everything from writing workshops to monster making, in one of Ireland’s spookiest cities, ‘Locating the Gothic’ will surely be a highlight on this year’s autumn calendar.

WITH THIS CONFERENCE and festival, we wanted to take the idea of ‘the gothic’ through academic conference discussions out into the wider arena of Limerick City, tapping into the native tradition of storytelling and folklore and the rich history of literature and art.

Myself and my ‘partner in crime’ Maria Beville met at the Studies in Gothic Fiction conference in San Diego back in 2012. Maria’s background is in literature and film, and mine in fine art theory, so together we bring an interdisciplinary approach to our passion for the Gothic. We both live and work in Limerick, where Maria lectures in English Literature at Mary Immaculate College and I run the Department of Fine Art at Limerick School of Art and Design. We were fascinated by the dark history and rich culture of the city, which lends itself perfectly to staging Ireland’s first large Gothic conference and festival.

10492065_436209869852738_8534261179399577949_n Maria Beville (left) with her co-creator of 'Locating the Gothic' Tracy Fahey (right) Photographed by: Deirdre Power Photographed by: Deirdre Power

Over 70 international delegates are expected in Limerick in October, from Australia, New Zealand, the US, South Africa, and all over Europe. The conference features an interdisciplinary range of papers on Gothic literature, film, TV, fine art, geography, theatre, multimedia and gaming.

The festival activities promise to be enormous fun, with Gothic chants, walks, films, exhibitions and the famous Limerick annual zombie walk – Outbreak! Meanwhile, horror novelist Gemma Mawdsley will give workshops with key tips on writing your very own horror story.

The festival is sponsored by Limerick City of Culture and connected with other cultural institutions in the city including the Limerick School of Art and Design, Mary Immaculate College, the Hunt Museum and the 13th century King John’s Castle.

10176041_396706223803103_532249072592885479_n St Johns Castle in Limerick City. Facebook Facebook

If you’re still not convinced, we should also reveal that there will be a performance of Conor McPherson’s The Veil, directed by Deirdre Flynn, a ghost story telling session presided over by story teller Anne Culhane, a Day of the Dead printmaking workshop hosted by Limerick Printmakers and a monster-making workshop with Fantasy Fabrikken, a “Danish group of artists who create stories/adventures/props/events for others.” These FX artists will be having their own workshop on the Saturday of the festival (25 October). Whether it’s becoming a zombie or creating a giant green troll, these artists will be able to show you how they create their magic.

10174897_712194235489041_8769320805215490036_n Danish group Fantasy Fabrikken who specialize in creating props and costumes for special events. Facebook Facebook

The festival will also feature female vocalist group Sionna. These young artists met while at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at Limerick University. They took their name after a mosaic of the goddess Sionna (pronounced shunna) whom the river Shannon takes her name. The group have a very atmospheric and monastic tone and their harmony is simply beautiful. As Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin has stated “The sound of Sionna flows like the river from which it takes its name.” They will be performing in Mary Immaculate College Chapel on the Friday (October 24th).

dsc_0688 Female vocalist trio, Sionna, will be featured at the festival. Sionna Singers Website Sionna Singers Website

As for the entrance fee to the events… all events are either free or heavily subsidised. The festival is based firmly on ideas of democracy and easy access (although some events will be ticketed due to venue capacity). One of the primary goals of the festival is to stimulate interest and a lively public celebration of all things Gothic just before Hallowe’en.

Gothic entertainment 

The Twilight phenomenon has especially been explosive in Young Adult fiction, film and TV dealing with vampires, werewolves, zombies and ghosts. This encroachment of the gothic into mainstream culture has caused an upsurge in interest in themes of otherness, darkness and the monstrous. The festival welcomes this chance to engage the public further in exploration of the gothic across different media.

So if you’re a Goth, a ‘Twi-hard’, or just someone who wants to release their inner monster you will definitely want to go down to Limerick later this autumn.

Tracy Fahey is Head of Department in Fine Art and Head of Centre of Postgraduate Studies at Limerick School of Art and Design. Tracy has delivered numerous papers around the world and has published articles on the Gothic, fine art and design practice. Some of her creative short stories are Impossible Spaces, Hauntings, Girl at the End of the World, Drag Noir, and Darkest Minds.

For more information on Locating the Gothic visit the website or Facebook page.

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