2019 has been an eventful year for The Liberties and wider Dublin 8. With a swathe of new developments transforming the streets in the area, new parks and greeing initiatives enhancing amenity and quality of life, and a packed programme of events and activities enriching social and community life in the area, The Liberties is undoubtedly one of the most exciting locations in the city in which to live, work or visit.
Take a look back at some of the cultural highlights of the year…
The year was packed with great community events and local festivals. In February, the hallowed halls of St Patrick’s Cathedral came alive for a unique showcase of all that is great about Dublin 8. Billed as ‘LoveD8‘, the fair included over 120 stands representing community groups, local sports and activities, local businesses, services and schools. Over 2,000 people visited the Cathedral on the evening and it made for a unique and positive celebration of life in D8 with themed areas across Culture & Community, Health, Education & Training, Sports and History & Heritage. We even had a visit from the Lord Mayor, Nial Ring.
The celebration of community life was a theme throughout the year, culminating in an amazing Halloween spectacle at locations across the area in October. Dublin City Council‘s community team partnered with Happenings and Joined-up Events and a host of community groups to mark Oiche Samhain in spectacular fashion. Music, street theatre, games, spooktaculars and more. Pride of place went to the visiting Chottlebotzer Lozarn band from Switzerland who brought an utterly unique and macarbre twist to the evening.
In May, the area’s rich culture and national institutions were again to the fore for the third outing of Culture Date With Dublin 8. The weekend featured walks and talks, bespoke tours of cultural institutions such as IMMA, Christ Church Cathedral and Kilmainham Goal, and an wonderful concert in Goldenbridge Cemetery. From its origins in Kilmainham, the festival has now embraced some of the top attractions in The Liberties and is set for another outing next spring.
July saw The Liberties Festival take place with perennial favourites such as the Blue Rinse Ball and Trader vs Garda Football Match vying with events such as yoga, outdoor cinema, Opera in the Open, music, comedy, dance and much more. The Festival is Dublin’s longest-running, and will mark its 50th anniversary in 2020 with exciting plans afoot.
In September, The Liberties came alive for Cuture Night – the annual jamboree of events across Ireland that showcase the richness of our culture, history and heritage. The evening was a packed affair with a huge range of venues opening their doors into the night – the largest programme to date. Among the highlights was a magical outdoor film and music event beneath St Patrick’s Tower in The Digital Hub, a celebration of local history in St James’s Church, events in the new distilleries, gallery openings, historic tours, storytelling, medieval life uncovered in Dublinia, music and much more.
The Liberties Cultural Association had a momentous year. In the midst of running their monthly walks and activities exploring local heritage and history, the association – a dedicated band of D8 enthusiasts – also represented the city in the All-Ireland Pride of Place Awards. And they went to the awards ceremony in Kilkenny in November. And they came home with a first prize! Well done!
At Newmarket, another local initiative Artistic Liberties has been showcasing Humans of The Liberties through a series of photographic portraits on the former weighstation walls in the centre of the square. The group celebrate the diversity of both the established and new community in the area.
The Liberties was once a powerhouse of weaving and fabric production in the city, though that has sadly all but disappeared from the modern area. However, this year weaving made a comeback, thanks to a great initiative by Dublin City Council, City of Dublin ETB and Yarn School. Regular weaving classes have been ongoing in Timberyard, bringing an old trade back to life.
Dublin Flea ran a series of summer flea markets in the Instagramable surrounds of The Digital Hub on Thomas Street. By a fluke of the Irish weather, sunny blue skies abounded for each event. Over 45 stallholders across food, gifts, crafts and bric a brac made the courtyard under St Patrick’s Tower a definate best ‘second-best choice’ for the markets from its usual home at Newmarket.
Smaller markets have blossomed across the area this year, including the monthly Little Iveagh Market on Francis Street, seasonal food and crafts markets at Teeling Distillery and, this month, a host of festive markets.
In November, Dublin City Council community team teamed-up with UCD Folklore for an oral history project of the Iveagh Markets. Over 100 people shared stories and memories of the markets over the evening.
The life and times of St Patrick’s Cathedral’s most famous Dean, Jonathan Swift, was marked in November by the third Jonathan Swift Festival. This year the programme, which takes place across the city, but largely in the Cathedral, included everything from a posh Georgian lunch in Dublin Castle, a rendition of Handel’s Messiah, guests such as former President Mary McAleese and the Archbishop of Cantebury debating weighty moral issues, discovering the gorgeous Georges, walks and talks and building visits.
November also saw a small, understated event to mark the end of WWI at the Grotto in St Catherine’s Church on Meath Street. Organised by The Liberties Cultural Association, the event included music and poetry.
What were your highlights of the year?