‘Hunger’ for creativity evident during Culture Night in Limerick

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

Enjoying ice-cream and art: Timmy Joe, Rhianna and Elliemai Casey, Garryowen, at the launch of the Urban Horse project in People's Park as part of Culture Night last Friday. Picture: Alan Place.
IN the People’s Park, a herd of horses were christened, while around town a stampede of cultural activity was taking place.

IN the People’s Park, a herd of horses were christened, while around town a stampede of cultural activity was taking place.

Culture Night, running for a sixth consecutive year last Friday, saw people out in their droves to take advantage of free admission and late opening hours in the city’s arts, culture and heritage venues.

Seventy specific events in total across Limerick took place, a record for the annual event.

Limerick’s Urban Horse project was a key event of the night, a City of Culture legacy project, overseen by artist Angela Connolly. The innovative and highly interactive public art project engaged with schools, youth groups and other organisations to create the horses, 15 in total, which will be on display in the People’s Park until the end of September.

“I am thrilled so many people turned out,” beamed the artist at the launch event. “What started to be a really bad day, I was looking at it like the horses were being christened - so all 15 are christened now and the rain has stopped, people are here and everyone is having a great time.”

Ms Connolly worked with schools such as St Patrick’s, and institutions like the Bedford Row Project, to create the wildly creative fibre-class horses.

David McNamara, Kennedy Park and John Boden, Moyross, who worked with the artist in the Bedford Row project, explained that their particular horse had “a dark side and a brighter side”.

“The meaning of the horse was about youngfellas in prison, on drugs, suicide; that was the dull side of it, the bad side,” said David. “The other side is when they are changing life, getting off drugs, staying on the right level and out of jail.”

Fifth class pupil in St Patrick’s, Larysa Giec from the Dublin Road, said she “really enjoyed” working on the project.

“The horse looks really cool. I liked the style of the paint and it looks really shiny. The designs are like aboriginal art and stars,” she said.

Elsewhere, the town was teeming. In the Milk Market, Macnas hosted two ‘bespoke performances’, created for Culture Night.

“It was a fantastic crowd and the kids seemed to really engage with it,” said Jamie O’Neill of Macnas. “It is a mad old show and it has all the bells and whistles with music and dancing, and it is great for Macnas to get down to Limerick and show people what we do best.”

Watching the show was mum Sarah Flood, with her daughters Sara O’Gorman and Tanya Flynn and six grandchildren.

“I really enjoyed it, it was fantastic, what is not to love? There is a great buzz around, Limerick is going up at the moment,” she said.

“We come every single year and we go to King John’s Castle. We made bees today up on Thomas Street, we made T-shirts and bags in the Printmakers - we sang in the choir, saw the vintage cars, we are out since 4pm today,” laughed daughter Sara.

The area around the Hunt Museum and the Fab Lab on Rutland Street, and Ormston House on Patrick Street was particular busy, and Mike McLoughlin of Fab Lab - a creative design space - said the “evening has very, very busy”.

“A lot of people are afraid to come in during the day, but this sort of evening, everybody feels comfortable coming in, you can look at what we do,” he added.

Across the road, Hunt Museum director Hugh Maguire confidently predicted the venue would top last year’s number of 3,000 through the doors.

“It shows that people are actually hungry for music and art and feel that they are engaging with it,” he said of Culture Night.

“It is also a wonderful opportunity to show people that we are here and what we do. It is all very good.”