Dublin is shaping up for a real culture shock in the next little while. Visitors and locals alike will be chewing their lips in indecision at how to possibly choose between what can only be described as an entire galaxy of cool events. Here’s what I’m looking at…
First on the line-up of fabulous distraction is this 10-day film festival, kicking off on 17 February. The focus is on good, old-fashioned storytelling, with a programme ranging from Irish premieres, contemporary world cinema (French, German, even Latin American and Romanian), documentaries, classics and special lectures.
The lips are getting raw anticipating the haunting landscapes of Tim Robinson: Connemara and the presentation of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with a live score performed by the RTE Concert Orchestra in the National Concert Hall. Meanwhile Dublin comedy filmmaker Sean Grant tells me he’ll be in the front row of the Festival Directors Panel – Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Film Festivals offering invaluable tips for budding filmmakers out there on how to get your work screened.
I’d step over my own sister (metaphorically speaking, of course, sis) for one of the limited tickets to a special screening of The Usual Suspects on Monday 21, followed by an intimate discussion with its star, Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey.
The fun doesn’t end at the foyer, though. Actors from the renowned Gaiety School of Acting will be presenting scenes from great movies live in completely random corners of the city during the festival. Watch your step on those cobblestones, you hear! You could be walking into a rowdy bar scene from The Field before you know it!
If all these movie stars and popcorn munching doesn’t ice your cake, don’t fear, Dublin has a lot more up its sleeve, and a very roomy sleeve it is, too!
Next on the agenda is the Dublin Book Festival from 2–6 March. This UNESCO City of Literature has had more writing talent in the past 100 years than is scarcely believable. And we’re still churning them out, with a catalogue of Ireland’s contemporary writers, poets and children’s authors taking part in the festival’s free readings, interviews, debates and book launches.
Trotting to the events will be a pleasure in itself, as the buildings will be as grand as the authors they’re hosting, including the National Library of Ireland and City Hall, and trendy Temple Bar spots The Project Arts Theatre and The Gutter Bookshop.
Just a week later, and in the midst of the city’s annual St Patrick’s Festival revelry, a special evening of words, music and film will take place at Dublin’s new Convention Centre. I stagger under the weight of the names I am about to drop: Sebastian Barry, Dermot Bolger, Damien Dempsey, Roddy Doyle, Paul Durcan, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Glen Hansard, Paul Howard (Ross O’Carroll Kelly), Declan Hughes, Biddy Jenkinson, Claire Kilroy, Paula Meehan, Joseph O’Connor – basically Dublin’s best loved names from the worlds of literature, music, film and theatre, will all be in attendance for DublinSwell on 18 March.
Even after all that, Dublin still won’t let you file away your bookmarks. The month of April brings the Dublin: One City, One Book Festival, an annual event celebrating one book around the city. The book for April 2011 is Ghost Light by Joseph O’Connor, a novel loosely based on the love affair between the great Irish playwright John Millington Synge and the Abbey Theatre actress Molly Allgood. One of the sweetest parts of the event is that O’Connor will visit and perform a reading to eight lucky people, who can ask him to read anywhere they want, literally!
By now I expect you’re like me – in total culture shock with all that’s going on. Right now I’m off to buy some lip balm, oh, and say sorry to my sister…
If you are planning to come over and taste some of Ireland’s Art and Culture, there are some apps you might want to pack in your smartphone before you leave. In this blog post we pick the best apps for visiting Ireland.