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Author Archive

Gardens Galore: Finding A Good Season Ticket

kilruddery

While optimistically looking forward to spring, I decided to investigate the options available for buying garden season tickets within easy reach of Dublin. I began with my old favourite venue Airfield garden and farm. I’ve always meant to purchase a garden membership at least once in the fond hope that it would encourage plenty of days out during the summer. I just never actually got around to doing anything about it. Having visited Airfield after its revamp has inspired me to look into the best value on offer. Continue reading

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Literary Parks In Dublin: Writers And Walks Galore

dublin

A leaflet that I picked up somewhere inspired the topic of this ‘out and about’ in Dublin post. I think I might have mentioned before that I tend to be a bit of a magpie where leaflets and brochures are concerned. Being on an email list is just not the same; the random quality of picking up stray information leaflets appeals to me more.

To return to the leaflet in question: produced by Dublin City Council and Dublin UNESCO, it highlights city parks with a literary connection. Now assuming that the wind and rain ever stop, this would be a great idea for strolling around on a weekend. A couple of the parks have obvious literary glitz (I will come back to those) but I did not realise that Sandymount Green had a W.B. Yeats connection. I used to go to Sandymount quite often a few years ago but obviously failed to spot the memorial bust erected in the park. Yeats was born at 5 Sandymount Avenue hence the sculpture in the green. Perhaps there is a house plaque too; I must check that out as well next time. Sandymount Village is a lively and attractive location to visit and is handy for a beach walk too so this could be a more strenuous literary pilgrimage than most. Continue reading

Waterford Treasures: Exploring The Viking Triangle

waterford

We went on a post-New Year trip to Waterford to keep off those January Blues that folks keep writing about (I’m not sure what a January Blue looks like but I’m keeping a sharp look out anyway). But to return to Waterford and its attractions. I want particularly to highlight the Waterford Museum of Treasures, which we visited over a couple of days. The museum actually comprises three different venues, situated nearby each other (being virtually next-door neighbours) in the district known as the Viking Triangle. Continue reading

Post-New Year’s Culture Vulturing: Looking Ahead In 2014

ngi

I know that we can find it a little hard to find inspiration to cope with January’s chills, but I’m trying for a brighter glow by looking ahead to cultural goings-on in early 2014. To begin with, I picked up a couple of event brochures from the National Gallery of Ireland and another one from the Chester Beatty Library plopped though my letterbox recently.

To take the latter venue first, the major exhibition of French fashion illustrations, Costumes Parisiens: Fashion Plates from 1912-1914 (mentioned previously) will continue to run until 30 March 2014. In conjunction with this exhibition, as part of the free talks programme there will be three fashion themed Thursday lunchtime (1.10pm) talks. The first one is by Irish costume designer Joan Bergin and is entitled ‘The Thrills and Spills of Costume Design for Film’ on 30 January. Deirdre McQuillan of the Irish Times follows this up on 6 February will a talk about the fact and fiction of the Arran sweater. As a child, I loved the Arran patterned sweater that my nan knitted for me so I will certainly try to get along to that talk. It might even inspire me to get knitting again and that really would be a New Year achievement. Continue reading

Dressed to Impress : French Fashion at the Chester Beatty Library

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I have been once more touring the cultural hotspots in Dublin; putting myself through the hard grind of visiting exhibitions so that I can pass the results on to Irish News Review readers. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it; that’s what I tell myself anyway. However, as soon as I read Chester Beatty Library’s autumn programme, I have been looking forward to seeing the French fashion prints. I could try to claim that I have been visiting the Costumes Parisiens exhibition in an entirely selfless spirit, but I confess that just wouldn’t be true.

The bulk of the Costumes Parisiens display consists of over 100 fashion plates (I did try to keep a tally, but kept losing count) from the French fashion magazine, Journal des Dames et des Modes (1912 – 1914). Italian writer Tom Antongini (1877-1967) set up the journal in June 1912 and went on to publish three issues a month until the outbreak of the First World War. Antongini invited well-known artists and designers of the day, such as Léon Bakst and George Barbier to illustrate the periodical and so the Journal des Dames became much prized for its high quality illustrations. The fashion plates were made using a process requiring a great deal of skill, which involved the use of stencils (pochoir) to create the coloured parts of the scene.  Many years later, the colours and lines of the illustrations of fashionably clothed women are still exquisite.   Continue reading

A Farm In The City: Airfield Re-Opens For Business

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Much to the delight of South Dubliners (especially the littlest ones) the news of the phased reopening of Airfield Farm and Gardens in Dundrum has recently been announced. As regulars will know, Airfield has been closed for extensive renovations for the last two years, though it has seemed like much longer to us locals. The phased post-renovation opening is because all of the necessary work isn’t yet complete. At the moment part of the estate is open for business, approached from Overend Way, along with the new ergonomically designed restaurant. Airfield House, no longer used as a cafe, now contains a Heritage Experience, taking full advantage of the extensive archive left to Airfield Trust by the Overend sisters, Naomi and Letitia. The charitable trust was set up by the sisters in 1974 to benefit the local area in perpetuity.

The house was open for the first time on Wednesday 30th October for self-guided tours, just in time for a holiday activity. The house had been decorated with pumpkins (although whether the Overend sisters ever had pumpkin decorations is another matter) and looked rather jolly and inviting. Only the ground floor is open but it has been restored and furnished to display artefacts illustrating Overend family, community and social life. There is a fascinating collection of photographs, letters and documents showing how Trevor and Lily Overend developed the farm from an existing house and began to supply produce to the local area. Their daughters Naomi and Letitia continued and developed the farming tradition. The exhibition brings Airfield history up to date (and aptly demonstrates the Overend legacy) with an interactive display where visitors can view footage put together from the farm’s many schools activities. You’ll probably find as I did that you spot people you know, showing just how much a part of the community Airfield remains.   Continue reading

Going Over To The Dark Side: The Bram Stoker Festival

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Just as we’ve begun to notice that the nights are drawing in, a strange presence has been seen lurking around the darkened streets of Dublin’s fair city. But who and what is it that hides in the shadows? Are you brave enough to discover the secrets of the most famous un-dead literary character of them all? Who needs zombies when there’s the original blood sucker going a prowl?

If you do feel courageous enough to pay Count Dracula a Halloween visit, there’s plenty of opportunities over the course of the Bram Stoker themed weekend coming up. Running from 26-28 October at various venues around Dublin city centre is a veritable Gothic horror treat for Stoker and vampire enthusiasts. The festival is a mixture of readings and talks; music and art; vampires on film and much, much more. Many events are free though requiring advance registration. Check out the contact details that I give below. Continue reading

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