The Wood Quay Summer Sessions, run by Dublin City Council, are a series of free lunchtime gigs that take place every Thursday in July from 1-2pm in association with First Music Contact (FMC), Improvised Music Company (IMC), Music Network and Contemporary Music Centre (CMC).
“When Dublin City Council came to us and asked ‘Do you want to programme some music for Thursdays during the summer?’ we said, ‘Why don’t we show all of Dublin’s music?'” said Angela Dorgan, CEO of First Music Contact. “Events like the Wood Quay Summer Sessions can help to bring artists to a new audience.”
It all kicked off on Thursday 5th on what felt like the first grey day in months but, there was no gloom to be found in the Wood Quay Amphitheatre.
Events like the Wood Quay Summer Sessions can help to bring artists to a new audience
As a gentle breeze blew, visitors flowed in to see the show. There was a varied crowd with everyone from toddlers to experienced culture vultures taking a seat for the concert. Some came prepared with blankets, cushions and packed lunches while some seemed to just happen across the event, most likely drawn in by the music.
The gig started with the unlikely pairing of trumpeter, Niall O’Sullivan and accordionist, Dermot Dunne. They opened the show with a number familiar to most, The Godfather theme tune, before playing a few more traditional numbers.
They were a pleasure to watch. Dunne seemed to feel every note with his entire being, his face and body playing to the melody as much as his accordion, while it was plain to see that O’Sullivan was having a great time.
The second act of the afternoon dubbed themselves the “Wood Quay Trio” and featured double bassist Paul O’Driscoll, harpist Eilís Lavelle and uilleann piper Mark Redmond. The group had been “thrown together for this gig” according to Redmond, but you couldn’t tell. They were perfectly in sync, their toes all tapping out the same rhythm but in their own individual ways. O’Driscoll was tapping his right toe double-time while Redmond’s right heel kept pace and both of Lavelle’s feet marked alternate beats.
Redmond was a fantastic storyteller, giving the background to every tune. One had been hidden in a book (gathered to prevent the loss of music after the famine) in the library of Trinity College for over 100 years. When they finished, the man beside me turned to me and said, “Thank God they got that book out of the library”, he spoke for all of us.
The Wood Quay Summer Sessions continue every Thursday in July from 1-2pm. Over the next couple of weeks, five more acts will take to the stage. Entry is free to all, and the area is well served by Dublin bus with stops on both the quays and nearby Lord Edward Street.
To learn more, visit the DCC event page.
The people, places and things that make Dublin special.
James Caulfeild, the 1st Earl of Charlemont, was a man who did things with style, and then some.
His townhouse on Parnell St, which now houses the Hugh Lane Art Gallery, reflected his elegant, artistic nature, and was initially designed as an adornment to the city, where paintings by Rembrandt and Titian hung. When he embarked upon his Grand Tour – the 18th century equivalent of a gap year – he spent a rather impressive 9 years taking in the delights of Italy, Turkey, Greece and Egypt and became close friends with the future King of Sardinia. As you do.
One lasting souvenir from Caulfeild’s travels was a deep love of everything Italian, resulting in one of Dublin’s most beautiful buildings. After his Grand Tour, Caulfeild commissioned the Scottish-Swedish architect Sir William Chambers to design a summerhouse on the grounds of his main residence, Marino House. The latter, which he named after the Italian town, was torn down in the 1920s to make way for affordable housing, but the Casino at Marino (casino meaning ‘small house’ in Italian – it’s nothing to do with gambling), completed in 1775, still stands and is often regarded as the finest example of Neoclassical architecture in Dublin. Better still, these days it’s open to the public.
It’s the element of surprise that hits you every time you visit the Casino, which took around 20 years to complete. Sure, it might look relatively modest from the outside, but the building actually contains a whopping 16 rooms across 3 floors – size-wise, it’s about the same as a modern family home, albeit the one of your dreams. So much of the Casino is smoke and mirrors: the huge front door is an illusion, with only two panels opening to allow entry, while some of the Tuscan columns surrounding the Casino are actually hollow, to allow rainwater to drain down. The interiors include a state bedroom, reception rooms, kitchen and servants’ quarters, as well as a wine cellar. Rich parquet floors made from rare African and South American woods, ornate plasterwork ceilings and beautiful fireplaces are but some of the exquisite design features; then there’s The Zodiac Room, a study decorated in symbols reflecting Caulfield’s interest in astrology. It’s all terribly beautiful and harmonious and wonderfully judged, and it’s no surprise that it’s become a popular wedding destination.
Rather intriguingly, 8 tunnels lead from the Casino, but their exact purpose remains unclear. One tunnel, which originally connected the Casino to the main house and was subsequently boarded up, was probably used by servants running between the two establishments. There are also rumours that the tunnels were used for target practice during the War of Independence, with the stonework dulling the sound of gunfire.
Although Caulfeild’s son succeeded him, the Earldom died out in 1837 and the Casino fell into disrepair. A major restoration took place in the 1980s and a subsequent revamp happened in 2014, with some controversy surrounding the latter. Once upon a time, the erudite and well-travelled James Caulfeild would have enjoyed a series of formidable sea views from his pocket palace, when the surrounding area was still countryside. Suburban sprawl means that those views are no longer available, but a trip to the Casino still provides a fascinating and visually arresting insight into the life and tastes of a rather fashionable 18th century Earl.
Cherrymount Crescent, Off Malahide Road, Marino. See casinomarino.ie for more details.