The Arts in Ireland 2016 - a Preview

Highlights in the Irish Culture Calendar for 2016

Art can certainly give you wings ... even on rainy Dublin streets!
••• Art can certainly give you wings ... even on rainy Dublin streets!. © Bernd Biege 2014

So, what will be the big things happening in Ireland's art world during 2016, which will be the Irish culture highlights? As usual, there are a lot of local events, many drawing an international attendance. Take your pick:

Turning Out the Turners

January will see the Vaughan Bequest once more on show at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dubliners will traditionally flock here to see the annual outing of Turner's delicate watercolours.

And with the success of the Turner movie still in many minds, fans do come from further afield as well.

Villagers in 2016

Villagers, the Irish indie folk band from Dublin, led by Conor O'Brien, release their new album "Where Have You Been All My Life?" in January, followed by a shot tour taking in Cork, Belfast, Dublin, Galway, and Limerick. Expect to see and hear more of them later in the year. Though they're heading for the UK and Europe first.

Room Opening

The Irish-Canadian thriller "Room" finally goes on general release in Ireland on January 15th, and has been tipped for Oscar glory (its inclusion in the Academy Awards was ensured by a limited US release in October 2015, all fun and games I guess).

Educating Rita in Belfast

The 1983 movie adaptation with Julie Walters saw "Educating Rita" being filmed in Trinity College Dublin, because it was such a prototypical British university (like many Irish movie locations).

From January 30th to February 28th it will now hit the stage at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. And Rita is no longer Liverpudlian, but working-class Belfast. Go, shee at, quack!

Jordan Drowning

Filmmaker Neil Jordan's novel "The Drowned Detective" is out in February, featuring a private detective living in Eastern Europe and struggling with a failing marriage.

Add an unknown woman throwing herself into a river, the detective to the rescue ... and a Gothic tale begins.

Misbegotten Mooning

Eugene O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten", directed by Ben Barnes, will be on show both at the Theatre Royal in Waterford and at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast during March. It is a sort of love story, featuring Irish actors Mark Lambert and Michael Quinlan.

Al Qur'an Restored

One of the most stunning books of the world is to be enjoyed at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin - the lavishly illustrated Ruzhiban Qur'an, a work from the 16th century. See it between April 15th and August 28th.

Stars in Their Eyes

Stewart Parker wrote "Northern Star" in 1984, his niece Lynn Parker directs it at both the Project Arts Centre in Dublin and the Lyric Theatre in Belfast during April. It features revolutionary Henry Joy McCracken, one of the United Irishmen, reminiscing about his life on the eve of his execution. His life as told in the voices of Irish writers like Brendan Behan and Samuel Beckett.

EVA on Colonialsim

Ireland's biennial art fest, the EVA International in Limerick, will have an impressive array of artists and works at show again - from April 16th to July 10th.

As 1916 is all about (attempting to) overthrow(ing) oppression, one focus will be on colonialism.

Nobel Aeneid

Seamus Heaney's translation of the classic "Aeneid" is to be published in May ... needs more to be said?

Da Vinci in Dublin

It'll be a crowd drawer - ten drawings by the Italian Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci, using such different mediums as metalpoint, ink, watercolour, and chalk, are on show in the National Gallery of Ireland. Make a beeline for this between May 4th (Star Wars Day) and July 17th.

Out of Mozart

Mozart's Clarinet Concerto would be as good as forgotten to the general public, but the soundtrack to "Out of Africa" is still popular ... both are actually the same. Belgian performer Annelien van Wauwe and her basset clarinet will take centre stage, accompanied by the Ulster Orchestra, in Belfast's Ulster Hall on May 6th.

Definitely Not Zorba

The Greek choreographer Patricia Apergi will bring "Planites" to the Dublin Dance Festival. Five male dancers will vigorously explore the idea of travelling, with bits of Irish dancing and Spanish flamenco thrown in for good measure. All this at the Samuel Beckett Theatre in Dublin between May 17th and 19th.

Stepping Out

Another highlight of the Dublin Dance Festival, the Samuel Beckett Theatre will see a production of "Anam" from May 23rd to 25th. Developed in collaboration with Tralee's Siamsa Tire, this features step dancing from both Ireland and North America.

Wake at the Abbey

Tom Murphy delivers theatrical hits, and his 1998 play "The Wake" will be staged at Dublin's Abbey Theatre from June 22nd to July 30th. Annabelle Comyn directs the story of a woman coming back to her hometown, only to find her family feuding like there's no tomorrow.

1916 Made Contemporary

The Easter Rising of 1916 as interpreted in contemporary art ... that is the theme of a show in Cork's Crawford Art Gallery from June 24th to August 24th. It will feature commissioned work by, amongst others, Michael Cullen, Rita Duffey, Sean Hillen, and Alice Maher.

Billy's Dancing Shoes

The feel-good story of "Billy Elliot", about the working class lad that discovers a talent not for boxing, but rather for ballet, comes to Dublin. A big production will be on show at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre from July 26th to September 3rd.

Somme-bre Remembrance

Frank McGuinness's play "Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme", hailed as maybe the defining depiction of the Irish Protestant experience, will hit the stage in Dublin right in the middle of the 1916 celebrations. On show at the Abbey Theatre from August 6th to September 24th, this is sure to ruffle a few nationalistic feathers.

Whelan's Wife in Waterford

Teresa Deevy's play "Wife to James Whelan" is all but forgotten, despite her popularity as a writer for the Abbey in the 1930s. The story of a couple that isn't really that much of a couple any more will be staged in Waterford's Garter Lane Theatre during October.