On the morning that I visit the Royal Irish Academy, they’re testing out the new Luas on Dawson Street; empty carriages move by while people take time to stop and take in Dublin’s ever-evolving cityscape. The Royal Irish Academy has been located at 19 Dawson Street since 1851 when it moved from its Grafton Street origins to the more spacious Academy House. Sandwiched between Saint Anne’s Church and the Mansion House, you have probably walked past its elegant exterior hundreds of times and assumed that whatever happens inside has nothing to do with you. But the Academy wants you to know that it has. Pauric Dempsey, the Head of Communications, meets me in reception
Whether you’re into music, theatre, art, literature, history and heritage or comedy, you’ll find some cultural happening to suit your taste.
Although the Irish Writers Centre has long been a place for keen readers and writers to attend readings and launches, or to take part in one of the many writing classes on offer covering every topic from memoir to ghostwriting to autofiction, the centre can at times be overlooked because of its location, tucked away as it is away from the bustle of the city, beyond the trees of the Garden of Remembrance.
Sometimes the queue for the Ruby Sessions is so long that it snakes down the stairs of Doyle’s pub and out the door around past the old plaque on the wall that says “Good times are coming/Be they ever so far away” and down into the dark and puddles of Fleet Street. If you find yourself that far back, your chances of getting in are very far away indeed. These are the nights when word has leaked out into the world that a ‘Very Special Guest’ will be taking to the mic of the renowned live music night, and for the price of a six euro charity donation, you too could be part of the intimate gathering that surrounds the candlelit stage. Ed Sheeran, Damien Rice, Paulo Nutini, T
Walking through Temple Bar on a midweek afternoon, the sounds of céilí bands and lads on guitars belting out U2 covers tumble out onto the street every time a pub door swings open. Buskers are so much a part of Dublin culture that Glen Hansard starred in an Oscar winning film about them. Phil Lynott’s statue off Grafton Street is often draped in rocker pilgrims from around the world, a replica of Rory Gallagher’s rusty guitar hangs over his own designated corner near Meeting House Square, and Whelan’s is a mecca for any serious music lover. Dublin’s rock heritage is as legendary as its literary one, with the city punching well above its weight on the international scene
On a quiet corner in Stoneybatter, behind a quaint but unassuming shopfront lies renowned Dublin publishing house, Lilliput Press. The door is wide open when I arrive, and the sunshine falls in on a room lined with bookshelves. Two men sit on a sofa by the window, leaning over a coffee table covered in books. The door of founder Antony Farrell’s office sits ajar, and inside there is the busyness of a thoroughly active office; heaped manuscripts, teetering book stacks, handwritten letters taped to the wall. After he ensures I have a coffee and a bit of fruit to snack on, I sit on a chair in amongst the chaos of the heaving room. Antony sits behind his desk, peeling a mand
When Vanessa Daws moved to Dublin in 2011, she did something that might seem unusual to most people, but has become a habit for her: “The first thing I did was I arranged a swim down the Liffey at dawn – what I normally do when I go on art residencies or move somewhere: I find the nearest body of water and I swim in it.” She tells me that she does this to feel more at home in a place: “to bond with a place. To be accepted by the city. Connecting, submerging, in the city. And I knew if I swam I just knew I’d be able to relax in the city. I knew it would be alright
Dublin residents are by now familiar with the UNESCO emblem on programmes and posters for the city’s many literary events, but it was only on the 26th of July 2010, that Dublin was designated a City of Literature by the cultural arm of the United Nations. The fourth city to receive such a designation, after Iowa City, Melbourne and Edinburgh, it was a recognition of Dublin’s lively contemporary literary scene built on the strong foundation laid by past masters.
One of Rathmines’ smallest buildings happens to be one of the most distinctive, for it houses a Dublin art collective, MART. The old fire-station, with a classic engine-red door facing the main street, was built in 1847 soon after Rathmines became an independent “township”. Like the magnificent Rathmines Town Hall, the station was a symbol of township independence and civic pride. The fire crew based here played a big role battling the inferno, which blazed around Sackville Street during the
Dublin’s art scene is blossoming. A new wing has opened up in the National Gallery, IMMA continues to attract international work, the walls of the city are awash with commissioned street art but with a competitive housing market and rising rents, how is the city looking after its artists? Each year, Dublin City Council puts out a call for artists to live in the four subsidised residential spaces offered for periods of three months to a year; two cottages in leafy tranquil Albert College Park in Glasnevin, a Temple Bar apartment and St Patrick’s Lodge beside the
It’s still early in the morning when I walk up the steps to the National Library. Standing on the porch, through the fence I can see the TDs totter up the path next-door, folders underarm, heading into the Government Buildings. This Kildare Street building has housed Dublin’s main public reference library since 1890, and in Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he describes students gathering here to smoke and chat. Inside, it is quieter than even a library should be although there are a few eager types waiting in the lobby. A cleaner polishes around the bronze bust of Senator Mi
The popularity of spoken word is on the rise in Dublin and one of the stars of the scene is Elayne Harrington, AKA Temper-Mental MissElayneous. She’s a rapper and slam poet from Finglas and a standout female performer on a male-dominated scene. Dublin.ie first saw Elayne perform at a women’s storytelling night in Temple Bar’s Project Arts Centre. With her trademark hairdo of curlers in her fringe, the bold red lips and her warrior stance, she was defiant and gutsy. She set her words to the beat of h
There’s a bigger picture behind the recently re-opened National Gallery wings so we went along for a visit. In 2008, Ireland was in the grip of a financial crisis like none we had witnessed before. No wonder then that more than a couple of eyebrows were raised at the awarding of a €25m grant to the National Gallery of Ireland for the renovation of its Dargan (1864) and Milltown (1903) wings. But the truth was they were both painfully in need of attention. Apart from a few cursory repairs along the way, the buildings had seen little or nothing in the way of modernisation in their century-an