Summer Of Culture At The Castle

Dublin Castle Summer Season 2014

This summer, Dublin Castle seems to be trying to be a one-stop cultural feast. The OPW site is as usual playing host to the sand sculptures exhibition but there’s lots more besides marvelling at Duthain Dealbh’s incredible sand creations. This year children will have the opportunity to build sculptures at the castle and win a prize into the bargain. Prizes will also be on offer for winners of the ‘Family Trail’ challenge on July weekends. Amidst all of the summer revelry, an event at the Chapel Royal commemorates the centenary of the beginning of World War I, ‘Music, poetry, songs and propaganda from both sides, this 50 minute drama will inform, move, surprise and perhaps even amuse’. The War of Words is at 7.30 pm on 28 July and tickets are €6 from

Dublin Castle hosts three major exhibitions during the summer, one of which I visited last week. ‘Ulysses Cylinders’ (Dale Chihuly, Seaver Leslie, Flora C Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick) opened last month in the Coach House and runs until 23 August. This exhibition of extraordinary glassware was inspired by Joyce’s book and has its roots in Chihuly and Leslie’s ‘Irish Cylinders’ project of forty years ago. I am certainly planning to go this exhibition again as I was bowled over by the wonderful golden and green shades and textures of the glass pieces. A fascinating video of the production process shows Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick reproducing in glass Seaver Leslie’s Ulysses inspired drawings. They then fused the delicate pieces to the molten glass cylinders. It’s amazingly skilful and beautiful work.

Another exhibition, ‘Alec Cobbe: Designer, Collector, Connoisseur’ has been put on in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum. Alec Cobbe, whose childhood was spent at Newbridge House now lives in a National Trust property in Surrey. This exhibition consists of drawings, art and photographs relating to Cobbe’s thirty years working as an advisor on the restoration of historic country houses in Britain. The exhibition has previously been on show at the V & A and will remain in the State Apartments at Dublin Castle until 24 September. It should be well worth seeing if you are a country house aficionado.

In July, the castle’s extensive interior will provide the backdrop for a two-day exhibition of performance art called ‘These Immovable Walls: Performing Power at Dublin Castle’. Seven artists will be involved in this exhibition on the theme of power and its relationship to performance. The castle’s history makes it a great location in which to explore the concept of power; the artists ‘will engage with political, operational and historical features of the castle’ in a work curated by Michelle Browne. ‘These Immovable Walls’ will run on the 11 and 12 July. All of the above exhibitions are free, but you will need to obtain a ticket to the State Apartments to see the Alec Cobbe exhibition.

Summer wouldn’t be summer without the thrill of venturing to an outdoor play and wondering whether the rain will hold off until the curtain falls. The theatre company Mouth on Fire will perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the castle gardens from 23 July until 3 August so we’re going to need a lot of dry weather. The organisers have promised that the play will be performed outdoors unless the weather is bad enough to necessitate a move indoors. Fingers crossed on that one. The ticket price is a very reasonable €6 and event booking is through

Last Saturday we went to see Deeds of Deceit: The Theft of the Irish Crown Jewels at the Chapel Royal. This is a new play, produced by Speckintime and written by Matthew Ralli about the unsolved crime of 1907. The chapel setting was perfect; the suspects in the crime, recalled from the hereafter by ‘Verity White’ gave their evidence more or less willingly. At the end, Verity invited the audience to give a show of hands to indicate the guilty party. I won’t tell you how the vote went. It would be great if this production could make a return visit to round off the summer season as it had only had a short run from 3 July – 6 July.

If you feel inspired to visit Dublin Castle for any of these summer events then check out: and look up for more information on ‘These Immovable Walls’. Tickets for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The War of Words are from

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