Culture Night in Laois

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Review of Culture Night 2020 in Laois on Friday 18th of September 

Laois celebrated in style with a number of live events  and online events taking place in the County, throughout the day and night. Highlights included an exhibition at The Gallery Laois Arthouse, Stradbally featuring beautiful work by members of the Laois Arthouse Collective and work by the community from a series of pre-Culture Night workshops.  Another amazing highlight was the projected screening of a short animated film, with wonderful sound track at Fitzmaurice Place Plaza, Portlaoise – ‘In celebration of Helen Roe’; the work of artist Caroline Conway, that gave a fascinating insight into the life and work of Mountrath born, Helen Roe.  At the Dunamaise Arts Centre, limited visitors enjoyed an exhibition entitled ‘Children of the Free State’ by Annie Holland and Live Portrait Painting with Blaise Smith.  And in Mountmellick an outdoor performance by CCE Mountmellick took place on the steps of the Art Centre, Mountmellick.   Online events included an opportunity to view an’ Eco Printing Workshop’ with Artist Angelina Foster and an ‘Earth Art Workshop’, with artist Aishling Hennessy and Rebecca Deegan live streamed a workshop on painting an eye from the Arthouse.  Wonderful online workshops from Mount Henry Arts Studios included a  Plein Air Workshop with artist Mary Slevin and two childrens’ workshops.  People had the opportunity to view ‘ Laois Series: A Sense Of Place’, a video featuring 26 young people including, Laois Youth Theatre, Laois Youth Dance Ensemble, Laois County Library Service, Music Generation Laois and young people interested in nature and biodiversity.  Also online ‘Bringing Bacon Home’ from Heritage House Abbeyleix, a short film exploring the artist Francis Bacon’s time at Farmleigh House, Abbeyleix.  Music lovers enjoyed documentation on  ‘The Impossible Dream,’ a specially commissioned suite of music inspired by the life of Colonel James Fitzmaurice with musician and songwriter Martin Tourish in collaboration


Review of Culture Night 2019 in Laois, Friday 21st September –


Culture night Mountmellick Photo Denis Byrne

Paddy Flynn ( Proprieter , Roundwood House ) chatting with visitors during the Tour at Roundwood House Mountrath, on Culture Night. Photo: Michael Scully- no fee.


The launch of Culture Night Laois 2019 took place at Áras an Chontae, Portlaoise on Tuesday 3rd September to announce the wide variety of free arts and culture and to introduce the Culture Night Ambassador Glory Anumudu, a young spoken word artist from Portlaoise who commented “It is a great honour, as a young artist dedicated to representing the often unheard cultural and artistic voices of Laois”.


In Portlaoise the packed programme included a wonderful concert at the Dunamaise Arts Centre by the Henry Girls who were exquisite in their vocal and musical performances. At Laois Shopping Centre Youth Dance Ensemble stopped and delighted Friday night shoppers with wonderful dance performances and Mountmellick Embroidery Portlaoise Group showcased their exquisite craftwork to the public.

Portlaoise Library hosted author Anne Griffin in conversation with Claire O’Brien at 7pm and Laois Writers’ Group shared the best of classical writing in “The Language of love’ at 8.30pm. The Equinox at Kavanaghs’ Pub upstairs venue featured a number of performance artists that included an eclectic mix of live art, music, poetry readings and belly dancing.

Abbeyleix Heritage house hosted a wonderful family puppet show with McCormick Puppets. A Pop Up Gaeltacht  took place at An Sean chistin in Ballyfin with refreshments, music and conversation as Gaeilge in a lovely homely atmosphere. Art lovers visited a ceramic art exhibition ‘losing Ground’ at Laois Arthouse, Stradbally and got to meet and talk to the artist Cathy Whelan. A wonderful event took place at Kevin McCann open art studio in Ballyfin, in the heart of the countryside where there was plenty of art, music and refreshment for visitors. Mount Henry Art Studio, Killenard had a great afternoon and evening at their open studio event where a full capacity of young and adults took part in the free workshops and art studio viewings.


Heritage sites events included Donaghmore Famine Workhouse informative free tours and talks and Emo Court hosted 2 free tours to showcase the house and three exhibitions. In Living Memory – an exhibition of Contemporary Still Life presented by the Oliver Sears Gallery and “Through the Eyes of Father Browne” – an exhibition on the life and photographs of Father Frank Browne as well as the exhibition of Architectural Drawings for Emo Court on display for the first time on the first floor of the house. At Roundwood House Mountrath there was a tour of the house and grounds to finish with refreshments and music by Paddy and Ted (“Roundwood Kitchen Staff”) in the Library.


Durrow Library hosted a wonderful musical evening of light classical and popular music performed by violinist/violist Ali Comerford and pianist Anna Callanan. Mountmellick Comhaltas performed in concert for  residents and their visitors at St Vincent’s Hospital. The Slieve Bloom Association presented ‘Life Stories’ , a documentary with memories of traditional music, dance and life over the years, followed by refreshments at the MDA.   In Portarlington at the Church of Ireland Hall, there was a special film screening of the film “Into the West” in celebration of the new Into the West Mural created for the town on the facade of the building that featured in the film itself.

A fun Traditional Evening of music, dancing, singing, storytelling with Spink Comhaltas group took place in Knock community Hall.  Free Buses  were also available from Laois County Council to the Roundwood House event and to Kevin McCann Open Studio event in Ballyfin.