Culture Night in Laois 2022


Expressions of Interest are now being sought to bring a host of creative arts Events to County Laois in September 2022.  The Arts Office welcomes new ideas and proposals from individuals, groups and venues for to add to our 2022 plan.  Download the form here Expressions of interest form 2022




In 2021 a packed programme of events happened around Laois on Culture Night – Friday 17th of SeptemberFREE-   Live events included:

In PORTLAOISE – Music from the Bandwagon – at Fitzmaurice Place –Music Generation Laois presented performances aboard The Bandwagon. Specially created performances from Music Generation Laois’s musicians aboard The Bandwagon, a mobile performance unit developed by Laois School of Music, that debuted at Electric Picnic in 2019. A safe open-air live music experience in Portlaoise town.


At the Dunamaise screening of  BARDO by Aisling Conroy at 9pm  The Laois premiere of And Maps And Plans new short film, BARDO. Winner of the Best Debut Animation Short at Galway Film Fleadh, BARDO was written & directed by Aisling Conroy.  The film is an original, cinematic, 4 -minute, 2D, hand-drawn animated short, with arrangements and music performed by Ros O’Meara and Sound Design by Michelle Fingleton. All three are Laois natives. Twitter @andmapsandplans and Instagram: andmapsandplans. Limited seats incl. of the gig, must be booked at

A concert with Pádraig Rynne l Tara Breen l Jim Murray l Dónal Lunny – 9pm – Embark on an odyssey of wonder, joyfulness and upbeat music as four incredibly talented and creative folk musicians shape melodies from past and present into something dynamic and irresistible. A quartet comprising of musicians at the fore of our tradition, expect a performance from the gentle to the rhythmical and all the in-betweens. This gig is sure to lift the roof and the spirits of music fans who have been missing live performances so much over recent months!

Nasc is the new album from Co. Clare musicians Tara Breen and Pádraig Rynne. The duo has been performing regularly since 2009 and 2020 offered the perfect opportunity to enter the studio with long time collaborators Dónal Lunny and Jim Murray. The resulting nine-track album of mostly Irish traditional music with a sprinkle of Scottish, Asturian and Breton melodies as well as self-composed pieces by Pádraig, Jim and Dónal… “…holds a raft of sparkling new tunes and judiciously chosen borrowings. Generous of spirit and wide-open arms, this is an album to savour, often and long” Siobhan Long, The Irish Times.

Tara Breen has numerous All Ireland titles on the fiddle and tours regularly with The Chieftains, Stockton’s Wing and as a solo performer. Pádraig Rynne is considered a leading figure in Irish music and is a founding member of well-known bands such as NOTIFY, Atlantic Arc and Guidewires. Both Tara and Pádraig have worked regularly with Dónal over the past decade while Jim and Pádraig have been long-time friends, first meeting on the Galway scene when Jim began working with Sharon Shannon.

“Sure-footed, engaging and joyful music from a dynamic Clare duo. Expert musicianship, courageous creativity and sweetness of melody.” Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, RTÉ Radió na Gaeltachta

At Kavanaghs Upstairs – The Equinox –   Time: 9pm til late // 18+ only

A night dedicated to art forms and performance in celebration of the Autumnal equinox. Beautiful, mystical, and magical performances from artists from Laois and across Ireland – expect visual art, magic, performance art, poetry, dance, music, and burlesque.  The performances will take place on and off-stage – a mix of collaborative, stand-alone and durational. The event is designed to keep the audience feeling involved and inspired, and likewise to the performers. “The Equinox” aims to introduce emerging and experimental performance-based acts to the Laois audience; acting as a platform for both local and national acts. This event will serve as an opportunity for the Laois community to experience an accessible, intimate live art event, with exposure to contemporary and experimental methods of creative expression, art forms and performance.  The show can be adapted subject to Covid-19 restrictions, and filmed to run as an online show.


In RATHDOWNEY we have the Launch of a Community Mural at The Square, Rathdowney – Time:  4pm  (a short talk takes place before Launch). Come to the Square, Rathdowney to view the new mural artwork celebrating the people and spirit of Rathdowney, designed and created by Portarlington based mural artist ADW.  The artist will give a  public talk on the processes and background of the project prior to the launch.  Local artists will provide entertainment.  This new mural initiative was commissioned by the Laois Arts Office in consultation with members of the Rathdowney community via The Walls Project, a creative arts agency that specialises in the delivery of large scale public and private commissioned artwork across Ireland and Europe.  Supported by Creative Ireland Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) in partnership with Laois County Council.

In MOUNTMELLICK – View The Anne Jellicoe Outdoor Projection at Mountmellick Community School – Time:  8.30pm – 11.30pm

A video mapped projection detailing the life and work of Anne Jellicoe (1823–80) was created by artist Caroline Conway. The projection onto the walls of the Community School is 7 minutes long and will play on a loop throughout the night. Born in Mountmellick into a Quaker family, Anne Jellicoe was an Educationalist and Social Reformer. She was strongly influenced by her father,  William Mullin who was a Quaker schoolmaster and ran his own school for boys; and Johanna Carter, a teacher at a school for girls. Carter provided vocational training for girls and invented Mountmellick Embroidery, proving to Jellicoe that work could liberate women socially and economically. Her most notable achievements include setting up an embroidery and lace school to provide employment for young girls in Clara, Co. Offaly (circa 1846-1858). In 1861 Jellicoe, along with Barbara Corlett,  founded the Dublin branch of the London-based Society of Promoting the Employment of Women to educate women for work outside the home. She was a noted Irish educationalist and is best known for the founding of Alexandra College, Dublin in 1866.  This animation work is funded by Creative Ireland Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) in partnership with Laois County Council, and assisted by Laois County Library Archive Services and Historian in Residence (2019/2020), Regina Dunne.

And  Mountmellick Comhaltas will perform at St Vincent’s Hospital  Talented members of Mountmellick Comhaltas Ceoiltori Eireann will give a wonderful concert in song, story and dance for residents and staff at St Vincent’s Hospital, Mountmellick – outdoors if weather permits and indoors using Covid levels of restrictions.

In STRADBALLY  Laois Arthouse Gallery presents  ‘Moving On’ – An Exhibition of Ceramics from 4pm-8pm  – Artist Monica O’Meara will exhibit a selection of her abstract ceramic works both wall and plinth mounted.  Meet the artist Monica O’ Meara in the Arthouse, Stradbally on Culture Night 2021.  “I feel deeply connected to untamed landscapes prevalent in the Irish uplands and coast – the physical marks, exposed rocks, cracks and folds, contrasting colours and textures that evidence their creation.  My work explores geology and the concept of time, investigating the notion of capturing and accelerating unfathomable time through ceramic processes. Ceramic construction methods and materials echo the brute natural forces intrinsic to the formation of geological strata and their subsequent breakdown and exposure through erosion – crushing, crashing, scorching, rupturing and shattering. My approach of using layers to emphasise on a micro level to convey what is evident in the natural world on a macro level has resonances with the passing of time in the life of humankind. ‘Moving On’ explores our responses to both time and nature in the rapidly changing times we presently find ourselves.”   Join Monica at ‘Moving On’ for informal conversations on her inspirations and your responses to this unusual collection of work. es we are experiencing.  The artist will be available to discuss her work and the process involved for visitors.

In MOUNTRATH  take in the presentation of ‘Chatroom’ by Mountrath Youth Theatre at the Outdoor Theatre Space at MY Creative Space Mountrath at 8.30pm  – Mountrath Youth Theatre presents a chilling, blackly comic tale of manipulation, cyberbullying and adolescent insecurity. A staged representation of the virtual space of an internet chatroom. A group of bored and restless teenagers spend their time deconstructing children’s literature and the messages in modern pop music. But when a new member joins to share his depression and thoughts of suicide, the conversation takes a dark turn. The group is torn between those who want to help and those who see this as a chance to create a martyr for the teenage population.  The cast of six show a huge amount of talent and maturity as they bring this powerful depiction of modern-day isolation and the dangerous power of technology to life.  For ages 12 and up.

In PORTARLINGTON  artist Mary Slevin is delighted to welcome children, teenagers and adults to Mount Henry Art Studio to explore printmaking. During each workshop participants will work with Mary to develop the print process. Each participant will engage with the planning, styling, and production of their own individual artwork. Children will work towards creating printed cards, teenagers towards personal journal covers and adults towards a mounted print.  Adult Workshop: (11am – 12pm) Children’s Workshop (6  – 12 years): 4pm – 5pm Teenager’s Workshop (12 – 18 years): 6pm – 7pm.  Workshops are subject to Covid guidelines. Booking essential: Contact Mary Slevin, Artist, 087 906 3363 or  Location: Mount Henry Art Studio, Killenard, Portarlington, Co. Laois, R32 XH93


All live in-person events are subject to C19 related guidelines at the time of events & are subject to change*


Online Events include:

Weaving Textiles & Poetry – A Mixed Media Night of Words, Threads and Song – in celebration of “Poetry Town”, Yarnbombing Mountmellick have joined forces with Mountmellick Embroidery and Heritage Museum to celebrate the heritage of textiles in Mountmellick in a specially created film. This will include newly created pieces by both groups and the first reading by Poetry Town Laureate, Arthur Broomfield,  of a specially commissioned poem celebrating the rich textile heritage and history of Mountmellick.  Poets Declan Furlong and Sharon McEvoy will share their work, and Ger Phillips will perform his new song for the occasion. Weaving song and spoken word, together with the creative expression of textiles craft,  this film will act as a homage to the history of the town.   As an acknowledgement of the loss of the textile industry, Mountmellick photographer Kevin Byrne will unveil 6 photographs from his collection. Kevin shot precious scenes from the last day of the existence of The Textiles Factory in 2004. They will reflect the poignancy of the industrial decline in Mountmellick.  Finally, local artist Kate Deegan’s mural will be unveiled in the museum, depicting the floral designs of Mountmellick Embroidery and highlighting the opening lines of poet Ann Egan’s poem “The Sewing Girl To Her Mother- i.m. of Mrs Eileen O’Connor”. This poem won First Prize in Listowel Writers’ Week, The Annaghmakerrig Award, and has been widely published in poetry journals. Mountmellick is honoured to make a place for it in the hometown of Ann’s Mother, Mrs Eileen O’Connor. Ann will also recite the poem in full for the film. All tangible pieces will be on permanent display in the museum.

Ella de Burca in Conversation with Kevin Kavanagh – Online join Kevin Kavanagh in conversation with artist Ella de Búrca, recipient of the Platform 31 bursary, as they discuss what the bursary meant for her, and how she’s been adjusting to life post-pandemic, situating her art practice within her locality of Clough, learning patience and tenacity as she draws inspiration from her environs and neighbours. Filmed from the Dunamaise Arts Centre Ella will lead us on a short journey through her practice to date and how it has transformed and grown since relocating – up until March 2020, Ella was living in transient cosmopolitan Brussels and made the decision to return home with her fiancée as lockdown1 took hold, to put down roots in Laois. She discusses what this means as an artist and the coping mechanisms she employs to overcome uncertainty and precarity. Watch on Dunamaise YouTube Channel and Dunamaise socials from 2pm.

Ella de Búrca overlaps historical ghosts with current discourse to focus on how humans construct meaning, particularly from a female perspective. She is especially interested in how we perform as ‘viewers,’ and the discourse surrounding active versus passive experiences. Working with performance, sculpture and poetry she creates performative work highlighting the agency of contemporary art in provoking the status quo, questioning methods of viewer engagement and examining the role of socio-political forces on reception, engagement and discourse concerning contemporary art. She has exhibited nationally and internationally.

‘Kevin Kavanagh is a gallerist who lives in Mountrath, Co. Laois and has been working in the visual arts in Dublin for the last twenty-seven years.


A Virtual Tour of Abbeyleix Heritage House and Museum – Enjoy a virtual guided tour of Abbeyleix Heritage House and  Museum, with a focus on the history and artefacts of Abbeyleix. From the carpet factory exhibition, which gives a picture of the working conditions of the Abbeyleix women who made the carpets for the titanic to the exhibition room which holds artefacts including Bronze Age Stakes and Bog Butter found in bogs around Abbeyleix and Durrow. The tour will be complete with a presentation of the  3D models of the Rock of Dunamase and the Cistercian Monastery of Abbeyleix. An insight into the town of Abbeyleix and its struggle through war, flood and famine, and how Abbeyleix built itself up to become the thriving heritage town it is today.

And The art of woodcraft: Wood carving demonstration with sculptor Evgeny Chubatyy – as he demonstrates the essential elements and techniques of wood carving in this pre-recorded short film, shot at his studio. The footage captures the different stages of creating a medium-size sculpture in wood. From preparing the raw materials, which the artist collects from fallen and dried trees on local farmland, reflecting his sustainable approach to art, carving the piece as well as the final polishing stages of the creation process. This inspiring short film hopes to bring the sculpture to a wider audience, showing that it is an accessible medium.

Links will be available for all online events on from 3pm-12am midnight on Friday 17th September – to join in.  


More details: W: @CultureNight, | Twitter  | Facebook @CultureNight

Culture Night is brought to you by The Arts Council in partnership with Laois County Council.

Cuireann an Chomhairle Ealaíon Oíche Chultúir i láthair, i gcomhpháirt le Comhairle Chontae Laoise


Review of Culture Night 2020 

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.