At my signal, unleash antics

CORK’s second Culture Night on Friday (September 25) is a long Indian summer evening of 150 mainly family-friendly events run by 50 groups all across Cork city and suburbs, and all linked by a free shuttle bus service.

Camille, Cara and John were highlights of last year's walking tours.

Camille O'Sullivan, Cara O'Sullivan and John Spillane led three of last year's walking tours.

And of course culture means more than art. Alongside the theatres, artists’ studios, galleries and museums, there are a heap of other perhaps unexpected venues, all running a joyous, unruly riot of activities.

Visit a working bookbinder…
Row a boat under St Patrick’s Bridge…

Try your hand at fine-art printmaking…

A sense of place is a keynote. The charm of some events is enhanced by the chance to see a spot that’s worth visiting but isn’t normally open to visitors. Check out for the comprehensive guide, and be warned: some do have to be booked in advance.

Walk this way

The programme of guided tours between 5pm and midnight is a mini-festival in itself.  Some of them are being led by mystery guests –  “writers, musicians, artists and others”  as yet unnanounced. But to give you an idea of the calibre, last year’s guides included opera soprano Cara O’Sullivan, singer songwriter John Spillane and sulphurous torch singer Camille O’Sullivan. All the tours were heavily subscribed so get booking.

Among the tours already announced… Well  the delightfully engaging and witty food historian Regina Sexton will be leading a trudge of discovery around Cork’s food culture, from the English Market to Cornmarket Street (the Coal Quay) and on across the Lee through Irishtown and up to Shandon and the Butter Museum. This promises to be an excellent trip. What a people farmed, fished and feasted on has to potential to tell us far more about them than many an official history.  (The English Market is open til 9pm by the way, and is hosting exhibitions and whatnot amid the bustle).

Drop in on a dedicated theatre-in-education company in Blackpool…
Explore the enormous barracks looming over the city for the last 200 years…
Enjoy being serenaded from the comfort of your pushbike…

Song cycle

Another confirmed tour guide is one of the main men in the folk and traditional scene, William Hammond. He’s devised a songbook itinerary and will be the lieder (sorry) of a flotilla of cyclists on a unique tour, pausing at each of his chosen locations to sing and explain the songs’ significance to that part of the city.

Buses will ferry people around the various venues free of charge.

Buses will ferry people around the various venues free of charge.

To encourage yiz to drop in, Culture Night is laying on free buses running every 20 minutes on three routes from City Hall. The green route is a circle stopping at venues in the city centre and north side including Shandon, the City Archives, Collins Barracks and Graffiti in Blackpool among others. Buses on the other two routes are shuttles back and forth to Blackrock and CIT and all points in between.

See the Vanbrugh quartet in the country’s first Freemason’s Lodge…
Get kitted out in 1980s gear to celebrate an art retrospective…
Drop in for a  gig and readings in the library HQ…

Make a show of yourself

I count three excellent reasons to visit the Lewis Glucksman Gallery at UCC ( – the gorgeous, multi-award-winning building itself; the big group show it has on at the moment; and the antics planned for Friday night. Inspired by the retrospective show spanning the 1980s to the present, the gallery is hosting Back 2 the Future on Friday when (and I swear this is true) “visitors are encouraged to raid the Glucksman pick‘n’mix fashion chest and dress up in their finest 80s-inspired outfits.”

Plus they’ll be photographing and projecting the best costumes.  Sounds like a scream. 5pm to 11pm

Civic Trust House is welcoming visitors on Friday.

Civic Trust House is welcoming visitors on Friday.

Open all hours

Another gaff well worth a visit is Civic Trust House on Pope’s Quay, just across from the Opera House. Dating from the 1730s, the beautiful building is now the home of eight arts organisations from the Folk Festival to Corcadorca.

I’m not sure what they’ve planned for this year but it was a lovely atmosphere on last year’s Culture Night. There was a whole programme of stuff for kids earlier on, followed by music late into the night from Cork Chamber Choir among others, and good grub available from the stands outside including some pretty wicked coffee. Bug-eyed I was by the end of it.


As a fan of arcana, chance discovery and serendipity, there’s a special place in my heart for what I call the  WTF events. As in, “what the flip is that all about?” The brochure notes about a handful of the events offer up few clues (to me at any rate) as to what we’re likely to encounter.

For instance The Black Mariah ( at 4, Washington Street, is presenting work which “explicitly references mediated experiences and signifiers as opposed to the actual signified cultural or political context of the sources.” No, I haven’t the foggiest. 12pm to 10pm.

There are more clues in the information about Patrick Street Gallery (2nd Floor, 123 St Patrick Street which is presenting an “endurance performance” (their words) and installation from 4pm to 12pm:  “Over eight hours two performers attempt to describe themselves by using the products of other people’s imaginations.” No, not a notion.

But (he said, brightening up somewhat) the brochure also says the venue is presenting an afternoon jazz session with the Akosua Trio  which sounds really promising. There’s also a video installation – Circadian Rhythm by artist Edel O’ Reilly. Come on get into the spirit of it and check ’em out.


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