St Patrick Festival 2011, Details

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    St Patrick’s Day Festival…What’s the Story?

    ~ Commemorating Dublin as UNESCO City of Literature ~

    This year’s much anticipated St. Patrick’s Festival will be a spectacular celebration of Ireland’s literary heritage, commemorating Dublin’s prestigious title as a UNESCO City of Literature. The festival, which runs from March 16th – 20th, is the biggest event of its kind in Ireland, bringing together pageantry, performers and spectacle, over five exhilarating days of arts, culture and craic, with an overarching literary theme. Log on to to find a full and detailed list of what’s on around the country this St. Patrick’s Day.

    Dublin, Unesco City of Literature
    Dublin is only the fourth city in the world to receive such an accolade after Edinburgh, Iowa and Melbourne. You only have to think of great works like Ulysses, or authors like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift to understand why. Yet contemporary authors continue to light up the literary landscape, including, most recently, Paul Murray, whose novel ‘Skippy Dies’ placed third on Time Magazine’s Top 10 books of 2010. Roddy Doyle, John Banville and Anne Enright have all won the prestigious Man Booker prize, and writers like Sebastian Barry, Maeve Binchy, Joseph O’Connor, Marian Keyes and Cecelia Ahern who enjoy enormous international popularity.

    If you’re in Dublin for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, make sure you visit some of the great monuments of Ireland’s literary past and present, including The Abbey Theatre, where Ireland’s literary revival and heritage can still be seen, Ireland’s National Theatre, the Dublin Writers Museum, the James Joyce Centre, Trinity College, the Chester Beatty Museum and the National Library. You can also take part in literary tours, such as literary pub crawls, cycling tours or iwalks and visit literary bookshops, cafes and restaurants.

    Roddy Doyle’s ‘Brilliant’
    To mark the UNESCO title, booker-prize winning author, Roddy Doyle, has written a specially commissioned short story called ‘Brilliant’, which has provided the inspiration for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. ‘Brilliant’ is a fun and uplifting story about banishing the black dog of depression over Dublin and getting the city’s funny bone back, ultimately celebrating Irish people’s resilience. Ireland’s leading pageant companies will interpret different chapters of this story using their own inimitable style, bringing ‘Brilliant’ to life during the parade.

    Bookmark some Literary Events:
    There are an array of literary events lined up this year to celebrate Dublin’s Unesco designation. New to the line-up this year is a unique ticketed event ‘DublinSwell’ on 18th March at the new Convention Centre, when words and voices from the City of Literature will be brought to life. Guests will be moved and inspired by some of the city’s best loved names from the worlds of literature, music, film and theatre, including Roddy Doyle, Cathy Kelly, Sebastian Barry, Damien Dempsey and Paul Howard (Ross O’ Carroll-Kelly). President Mary McAleese will also attend the event and internationally acclaimed Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney will give a short reading.

    On Saturday 19th March there will be a free Literary Treasure Hunt throughout Dublin city where participants of all ages can crack the clues and conundrums that lie concealed in the many city’s many cultural venues. It’s a great opportunity for all the family to explore or rediscover Dublin as you will be lead around some of the most historic and interesting areas of the city, gaining access to locations which are not generally available to the public.

    Another free event, ‘How Ireland finds its Voice’, taking place on the 16th March in the O’Callaghan Alexander Hotel, will be a fascinating discussion examining the ways in which the Irish literary tradition has progressed into genres such as film, television and radio alongside theatre, literature and music. Expect an evening of lively and outspoken debate in association with the Dubliner magazine.
    Hit the right note at Music Events:
    If you’re looking for an evening of traditional music and song, then head along to see one of Ireland’s most celebrated and accomplished musicians, trad queen Sharon Shannon at the National Concert Hall on 19th March.

    Trad fans will also enjoy the new eclectic mix of indoor spaces throughout Dublin city dedicated to one hour Tradtrail ‘seisiuns’ which will feature Irish music, song and dance.

    The Commitments 20th Anniversary Reunion Concert is taking place on 19th March at The O2. This is the first time the stars have performed together since the making of The Commitments 20 years ago. They will also perform in The Royal Theatre in Castlebar Co Mayo on March 14th and The INEC in Killarney Co. Kerry on March 15th.

    This St. Patrick’s Eve as part of Seachtain na Gaeilge some of the best Irish musicians – including Republic of Loose, Fiach, Dublin Gospel Choir, Lumiere, Lir, Delorentos, The Flaws, Heathers, Luan Parle – will come together to play a special Irish language gig in Vicar Street. Musicians will be performing songs in English and Irish, and all proceed go to Barnardos.

    Pencil in some Family Fun:
    Families can look forward to a range of funfairs at Merrion Square, Wolfe Tone Park and Custom House Quay in Dublin from 16th – 20th March. From carousels to roller coasters, family attractions and Ferris wheels, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

    From the 17th – 20th March, The Ark in Temple Bar, a cultural centre for children, will come to life when it plays host to ‘Crafted Creatures’, a free exhibition of animal-themed Irish craft for children. Running alongside the Crafted Creatures exhibition, a programme of craft workshops will give children a unique opportunity to work with jeweler Angela O’Kelly and textile artist Liadain Bulter to explore pet animal themes using materials like clay, wire, fabric, rubber and plastic.

    On 17th March, head along to O’ Connell Bridge at 9.30am to see the start of the annual rowing race on the River Liffey between University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, the Gannon Cup University Boat Race.

    On Sunday 20th March, a Festival Road Race for all the family will take place through the streets of Georgian Dublin, hosted by Irish Olympian and former Grand Marshal Eamon Coughlan. The 5km (3.1 mile) race will start at the Mansion House on Dawson Street and finish at the Mansion House.

    To finish off your family fun filled weekend, head to the Big Day Out in Merrion Square for a range of open air shows from leading professional street theatre artists including The Fanzini Brother’s, Lords of Strut, Tumble Circus, Fidget Feet Aerial Dance, Bui Bolg and Cathal Carroll. Kids can also experience the wonder and excitement of science in a fun, entertaining and interactive manner at the Discover Science & Engineering area. The GaelSpraoi area ‘An Puball Gaeilge’ will have a jam-packed programme for the whole family including puppet shows with Branar, comedy, a baby & buggy céilí, live Irish music, games with Ógras, new music, sean-nós dancing – and more!

    Celebrate Irish Language with Gaelspraoi:
    Along with ‘An Puball Gaeilge’, Gaelspraoi, St. Patrick’s Festival’s Irish language programme, will have an explosion of Irish language events and entertainment throughout the festival, including: Cabaret Craiceáilte on the 18th March, a wild (and late) night, with the best of Irish-language rock, pop, folk, rap, and sean-nós; and Siuloid Sleibhe on the 17th March, which is an alternative way to spend Lá ‘le Pádraig, where you can take your cúpla focal out in the open air and join Na Cnocadóirí.

    Read up on Culture Events:
    Make sure you get out and about during the festivities and enjoy all the city has to offer, especially its literary heritage, from museums to galleries, libraries, theatres, exhibitions, parks and much more.

    The National Museum of Archaeology will have a number of events running throughout the weekend, including a special lecture ‘St. Patrick in his own Words’ on 16th March, a public tour called ‘Medieval Ireland’ a chance to learn about the symbols of Ireland, and the opportunity to make a St. Patrick’s Day Badge on 17th March.

    You could also do the ‘Footsteps of St. Patrick’s Tour’, which departs from outside Tourist Information Office on College Green at 2pm from the 16th – 19th March. This interesting and informative walk will include Dublin connections with St Patrick or the early Christian Church such as City Hall, Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, St Audoen’s, the Liberties, St Patrick’s Park and St Patrick’s Cathedral.

    The St. Patrick’s Day Festival will also have programme of Irish films playing in The Screen cinema that includes: ‘His and Hers’, a 90 year-old love story told through the collective voice of 70 ladies; ‘Waveriders’, a film about a surfing tournament in Ireland; ‘Garage’, which features a misfit from the West of Ireland; ‘The Commitments’; and the premiere of “Between the Canals”.
    Over the St. Patrick’s weekend, ‘Text inthe City’ will take place in Dublin’s Laughter Lounge. This improv comedy show is in the style of the TV show ‘Whose Line is it Anyway’ and will feature three of Ireland’s best comics, Paul Tylak, Ian Coppinger and Joe Rooney. The audience will begin the night by texting in suggestions to the comedians on stage who have a huge mobile phone screen behind them – and then it is up to the comedians to make these text messages as funny as possible! Expect loads of great comedy and madcap funny sketches from three great Irish comedians.

    Enjoy the Spectacle of the National Lottery Skyfest
    Wexford has been chosen as thelocation for this year’s spectacular National Lottery Skyfest, which will take place on Saturday March 19th. The Wexford Quays provide a stunning setting for the formidable fireworks display where bright colours and amazing effects will light up the skies over the river Slaney. A whopping 1.6 tonnes of fireworks, 5 tonnes of firing equipment, 6000 pyrotechnic effects and the largest pyrotechnic waterfall ever fired in Ireland will all contribute to ‘Make the Magic Happen’. The display will be choreographed to a mesmerising soundtrack guaranteeing a night that will dazzle the senses. Performing live on the evening will be Wexford based and internationally renowned street arts company Buí Bolg.

    Don’t forget that St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in nearly every city and town around Ireland so wherever you are there’s sure to be colourful celebrations nearby. Log on to to find a full and detailed list of what’s on around the country this St. Patrick’s Day.

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