It's CULTURE NIGHT in the city and county this Friday, with more events than you can shake a stack of sticks at.
That’s not the only thing on offer this weekend, though - there are some great music gigs, multilingual theatre and a street party on O’Connell Street this Sunday.
Strap yourself in this weekend - it’s going to be a fabulous ride.
Thursday (Sept 19)
Cork singer-songwriter Barry Wilson brings his unique blend of jazz, funk and light hip-hop to the Commercial’s Record Room this Thursday night. It’s the first chance you’ll have to hear some tracks from his debut album Portrait. Based on the personnel involved and hearing some of his collaborations over the past few years, you’d be a fool to miss this gig. He’ll be supported by Limerick's Laura Duff, who would be worth the price of the ticket on her own. Doors at 8:30pm, tickets are €7.
Friday (Sept 20)
This Friday is Culture Night in Limerick, the wonderful annual evening when cultural venues throw open their doors to the public, non-cultural spots scramble to mount events that can fit in the fancy booklet and crowds of people visit the city at night for a change. The theme for the evening is ‘Wrap Up In Culture’, which sounds like there’s a secret event where you make a condom out of a pot of yogurt. There are over 70 free events in the city and county - far too many to include here - so you should pick up the Culture Night booklet and start making a plan. Here are some of the events I particularly recommend:
The Hunt Museum is the behemoth of Limerick’s Culture night every year and it’s knocking it out of the park this Friday. Apart from the usual Hunt activities of kids’ arts & crafts, music and dancing, they’re hosting a Culture Of Food night from 5pm. Professional chefs will be cooking recipes submitted by the public (I don’t know if this means coddle will be served but we can hope) and you can also try a historical cooking objects tour. Eating the food will cost you a fiver but you can definitely smell it for free.
Put on your dancing shoes for the giant céilí at Dance Limerick between 6pm and 9pm. You’ll be shown the steps so you don't embarrass yourself too much. This is perfect first date material.
Limerick Printmakers on John’s Square have four hours of printmaking workshops from 5pm to 9pm. Children and adults from 5pm till 7pm, adults-only at 7:15pm. It’s the perfect opportunity to get your hands covered in ink and take home what you create.
It takes a brave person to schedule a paid gig opposite Culture Night but this Friday night you can experience Cloudbusting: The Music Of Kate Bush in Dolan’s Warehouse. Yes, it’s a tribute act. Of sorts. Singer Mandy Watson makes a point of not trying to sing like Kate Bush on stage but manages to bring something new to the interpretation, while still offering up the full Kate Bush experience. Definitely worth catching. Doors at 7:30pm, tickets are €21.
If you’re a fan of Chopin (and apart from tuberculosis, that should be everyone), Latvian pianist Santa Ignace will be playing all the Chopin you can possibly eat this Friday night at the Belltable. She’s won more awards than a piano has keys and this is a must for fans of all things classical. 8pm, tickets are €18. As it’s Culture Night, you can avail of a buy one get one free offer, so your ticket will be €9 if you have a piano-loving friend.
Saturday (Sept 21)
Mary Black is at the Lime Tree Theatre on Saturday night, playing songs from her 30-year back catalogue. The folk singer has been stunningly popular in Ireland since leaving trad band De Danann 30 years ago and will be promoting her forthcoming album Mary Black Orchestrated - her best songs reinterpreted with backing music from the RTE National Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra will not be in Limerick on Saturday as travelling outside the M50 seems to be beyond them but, honestly, it’s a better gig without the distraction of strings. Doors 8pm, tickets are €35.
The annual Polish Arts Festival kicks off this week and you can see the first big event of the festival this Saturday night at the Belltable. The headline performance of the night is Justyna Cwojdzinska’s Julia, a theatre piece about one woman’s life story through rejection, breakdown and recovery. It’s a bilingual show in Polish and English. You’ll also be treated to a performance by Fantasmagoria Dance Theatre and some improv. It runs from 8pm to 11pm - definitely giving you bang for your buck - and tickets are €20.
What do you get if you take an electric fiddle and combine it with loop pedals and synths to make house music? A prescription from your doctor and a request to come back for a future assessment at some undefined time due to ridiculously long waiting lists, that’s what. You also get Daithí, the electro music producer who has a fixation with traditional Irish culture. He’s in Dolan's Warehouse this Saturday night, taking the next step on his musical journey that will presumably end up with sean-nós hip-hop becoming acceptable in modern society. Doors at 9pm, tickets are a tenner.
This Sunday is Car Free Day, probably the closest thing Ireland has to Yom Kippur. To celebrate the future world where nobody will be able to afford a car, you can check out Cyclovia in the city centre. It’s a teasing sample of what O'Connell Street could be like with pedestrianisation, featuring a street party between Roches Street and William Street, and a circular city route from Thomond Bridge to Shannon Bridge where cars will be banned for the afternoon. It runs from 2 to 4pm.
Lucky Lane hosts Contact Studios’ Ask Not What Culture Can Do For You But What You Can Do For Culture from Friday to Monday this weekend. Sheila Richardson’s Hetertopias exhibition is at Limerick Museum till September 27. Mariele Neudecker’s Sediment exhibition is at the Limerick City Gallery until November 17. All free to see. Tickets are €10 for the Lavery & Osborne: Observing Life exhibition at the Hunt Museum, which runs till September 30.
That's your lot for this weekend and, as always, if you go to things, there will be more things!