Culture Night Dublin: Why Not Venture Off The Beaten Track?


As tomorrow’s Culture Night (the eight one) comes rapidly nearer, I’m finding myself no nearer to deciding what to do on the biggest night of the Irish Cultural Calendar. My brochure has more squiggles than ticks in it (that translates as more possible items than definite ones). The great thing about Culture Night is that it gives you an opportunity to visit some places that you either might never have got around to seeing or that aren’t normally open to the public. The big venues will always attract visitors on these occasions; queues to enter Freemans’ Hall or Dublinia are usually horrendously long. Maybe this Culture Night you should give the main players a miss and branch off to one of the smaller galleries or cultural spaces. There’s a huge number of arts venues open, such as The Factory, New Art Studio or Tamp and Stitch to name but a few. Or you could choose to visit one of the more unusual venues open on this cultural evening such as Melt Apothecary Ltd where you may sample herbal teas and receive a Chinese pulse diagnosis.

One of the items that caught my eye under the ‘unusual’ heading was an open evening at The Mendicity Institution Trust (9 Island Street, Dublin 8). This institution has been giving assistance to homeless and needy Dubliners since 1818 and was originally based in Moira House, Usher’s Island. The charity originally offered food, accommodation, washing facilities, schooling and training. The institution stayed in Moira House until the 1950s when it moved to its present location, where it offers free meals throughout the week. On Culture Night you will encounter costumed guides who will re-enact welfare distribution 19th century style and you can sample the menu from those far off times. But don’t say ‘can I have some more please’ even if the victuals have been re-imagined by Michelin starred chef, Colin O’Daly. Open from 6pm -10pm.

The Mendicity Institution isn’t the only charitable organisation that is throwing open its doors this Culture Night. Depaul Ireland’s sixty-bed Back Lane Hostel will be offering tours, entertainment and refreshments to Culture Night visitors between 6pm and 9pm. At the same time, Depaul are also putting on a film evening in collaboration with the Light House Cinema. The cinema will be showing a film called ‘No Coins Just Change’ as a way of highlighting the ‘Brightening up Dark Situations Initiative’. Check the Light House web site for details. Depaul is a much younger organisation than The Mendicity Institution and was established in Ireland in 2002 (and in the North in 2005). Since its beginnings it has focused on assisting homeless people with acute needs who may struggle to find help elsewhere.

Culture Night participation seems a great way for charitable organisations to raise their public profiles. Visitors can get to see what the charities do and what facilities are available for the needy in these straightened times. It should prove to be a thought-provoking, as well as a sociable evening and reminds us that ‘culture’ includes everyone. I’m sure that a few new volunteers will be recruited too.  

Have a great Culture Night!



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