Spectacular Vernacular

Birr Festival of Music presents: Birr Young Voices in Soundscapes of Nature this Saturday!

Date: Sat, April 30th
Time: 8:30pm
Venue: Birr Castle Gardens
Weather contingency - Birr Theatre & Arts Centre/14hr advanced notice if changing venues

Soundscapes of Nature - Created and animated by Finn Nichol, with songs composed by Laura Sheils inspired by local mythologies, flora, fauna, and the natural world. Led by acclaimed choral director Anne McCambridge, Belfast, young professional musicians and singers engage with the children during the Easter school break (April 20-23rd) creating songs, movement and visual art. Breffni Fitzpatrick soprano, David Kennedy baritone, and David Vessey pianist, finalists from The Trench Awards, also perform with the children. Supported by The Arts Council of Ireland, The Trench Trust, Faoin Speir/ In The Open.

All Ages Advance booking essential CLICK HERE
Admission €10/€5 (under 12s free)
Outdoor Performance - 1 hour - dress for weather

Family Fun at OFFline Film Festival Outdoor Cimena Experience 

Great fun was had outside of Birr Theatre & Arts Centre over last weekend as OFFline Film Festival ran a series of past midlands based film shorts shown at OFFline Film Fest in the past, as well as a kids movie night which featured Osar Nominated Song of the Sea!  You couldn’t have asked for clearer skies, and a perfect combination of brisk evening air, hot chocolate, blankets and popcorn! 

Birr Young Voices at Spectacular Bog Weekend at Lough Boora Discovery Park

Ramping up for Soundscapes of Nature presented by Birr Festival of Music this coming Saturday, April 30th, featuring Birr Young Voices, created and animated by Finn Nichol, with songs composed by Laura Sheils inspiredby local mythologies, flora, fauna, and the natural world and Led by acclaimed choral director Anne McCambridge.

Birr Young Voices treated us to a special rehearsal at Lough Boora Discovery Park as part of In the Open | Faoin Spéir's 'Spectacular Weekend at the Bog' this past weekend in preparation!

See you at the performance on Saturday eve!  Purchase tickets HERE

Great News!

Breda Mayock's photo and video exhibition 'Crowned - Exploring Black Hair Culture' will be up until next week at Tullamore Library !

Come down to the library to have a look at the exhibition in the front windows while the exhibition is still up! Breda's video can also be viewed on your phone via QR code available throughout the library.

Photo credit: Marta Faye

‘There Is No Such Thing as Rain, Only Liquid Sunshine’ by Augustine O’Donoghue

It looks to be a wonderful weekend for weather in time for Spectacular Weekend at the Bog with In the Open | Faoin Spéir at Lough Boora Discovery Park.

While at Spectacular Bog, enjoy the nature trails - you may just find some stunning artistic gems on your path!

Work from 'There Is No Such Thing as Rain, Only Liquid Sunshine' by Artist Augustine O'Donoghue is placed both along the Pavilion area and displayed along some gorgeous paths for you to sit and ponder at.

Augustine's paintings are made with natural materials and will be affected by the wind and the rain while they re up between now and May 7th - enjoy them while they are there!

Photo credit Joseph Carr Photography

OFFline Film Festival Outdoor Cinema Experience!

Come one, come all to a fantastic way to spend an amazing spring weekend - at an outdoor cinema experience outside of Birr Theatre & Arts Centre!  Free entry - advanced booking essential.

Friday, April 22nd from 8:30pm hosts special screenings for children with a short film and a feature length movie! Little Boy Litter by Jack McHugh & Conor Mc Nally

Feature-Length Movie:
Song of the Sea by Tomm Moore and Paul Young
Oscar Nomination for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year.

Sunday, April 24th from 8:30pm features films from the Heartlands, a compilation of short films made in the Midlands, or filmmakers from the midlands, over the past 10 years.Saving the Turf by Fiona Breen, Wormhole in the Washer by Padraic Keane, and
Soft Tissue by Cliona Noonan. 

Book in advance HERE for your free tickets! 
Questions or queries contact info@birrtheatre.com

Wheelchair Accessible

Spectacular Weekend at the Bog - Sat, April 23rd and Sun, April 24th - 12-4pm each day

Join us here at Lough Boora for a 'Spectacular Weekend at the Bog' where you will enjoy a series of engaging workshops and an art installation, featuring Augustine O'Donoghue, Evelyn Broderick an Monica deBath!

Also enjoy some special guest appearances by Birr Young Voices as they rehearse for their upcoming performance 'Soundscapes of Nature' at Birr Festival of Music, and also renowned Offaly Poet Eileen Casey, as she reads an excerpt from her recently published book 'Bogmen First and Last'.

Each artist will bring their own message and interpretations of the bog to the table in these workshop and artwork series, while also working with community groups - it should be an exciting and creatively shared weekend!

Participate in and enjoy some fantastic'New Wilds' Bog Walks and Bog Sculpture and Painting Workshops - all free and perfect for all ages and for the family.


Saturday April 23rd:

From 12pm – Augustine O’Donoghue – Enjoy her Painted Installations in the Pavilion area  

2pm – Rehearsal by Birr Young Voices at Pavilion

2:30-4pm – Evelyn Broderick – Bog Themed Art and Sculpture using natural materials - spaces limited so book below!

Sunday, April 24th: 

From 12pm – Augustine O’Donoghue – Painted signs

12-1:30pm - Monica DeBath – New Wilds Bog Walk  and Bog Painting - BOOKED OUT

1:30-2:30pm Lunch Break

2pm – Reading by Eileen Casey – ‘Bogmen 1st and Last’ at Pavilion

2:30-4pm –Evelyn Broderick – Bog Walk outings, making and observing - spaces limited


Text Installation by Diana Bamimeke

If you are out for a day or evening stroll from this week, stop by Mullins & Henry old Opticians at Bridge Centre Tullamore at the Dunnes Stores entrance for a look at a curious and thought provoking text installation that will be up until the end of April.Created by Diana Bamimeke, the culmination of text is following “critico-production” In the Open | Faoin Spéir workshops at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre and online, this series of text installations distills writings derived from the participant's own thinking and interactions.

Spectacular Sapiens, at a shop window near you!

After our previous call-out for nominees for your Spectacular Human, Rowena Keaveny has officially displayed each one with great care in both locations - The Organic Store, Main St. Birr,

and at The Bridge Centre , Tullamore.

Rowena invited the public to celebrate a person in their lives

whose presence in it has been, ‘Spectacular’. A person who has made a significant and positive contribution to your life or a particular time during it. It could be a teacher who believed in you; a friend who supported you; a person who you once spoke to while waiting at a bus stop or on a train; a medical professional; relative; someone

you’ve since lost touch with or a co-worker.

The possibilities are endless to who that

Spectacular person is!

If you would still like to contribute a nominee that can be displayed alongside the others, you can still contact Rowena at paintpolitik@live.ie with a photo and an explanation about your Spectacular Human.

Spectacular Sapiens can be viewed until the end of April, and also on Rowena’s page HERE

Music - In The Open with Music Generation

Date: Sat, April 16th Time: 12-4pm
Venue: Lloyd Town Park, Tullamore

This series of FREE musical workshops taking place in the surrounds of Tullamore Town park invites the public to participate in drum circles and will have a feast of other musical treats including an intergenerational ukulele session and performances by Donlon Dance Company. It’s the perfect event for all the family!

Spaces limited – advance booking essential - all free

Music In The Open Drum Circle - Family & All Ages
12-12:45pm CLICK HERE

Music In The Open Drum Circle - Teens & Up
2-2:45pm CLICK HERE

Music in The Open Ukulele Taster Session- All Ages
1-1:45pm  CLICK HERE

Wheelchair Accessible

Joe Caslin’s new work is up at Tullamore Train Station!

One of Ireland’s leading street artists and activist Joe Caslin has created one of his signature pieces following a series of conversations and interactions with asylum seekers in Offaly.

The work towers over Tullamore Train Station, a place of transition, of waiting that is often packed with commuters. This work centres around identity, representation and connecting established and new communities in Tullamore through creativity and action. The project has been developed through the ‘In the Open/Faoin Spéir’ Arts Council of Ireland fund in response to the COVID-19 crisis and is a collaborative partnership led by the Offaly Arts Office with Birr Theatre and Arts Centre, the Museum of Everyone, Birr Festivals Collective and Iarnród Éireann.

Joe Caslin is an Irish street artist, art teacher and activist previously based in Tullamore, County Offaly. Best known for his beautifully rendered pencil drawings, which manifest as expansive pieces of street art. His highly accessible work engages directly with the social issues of modern Ireland, on an unavoidable scale. Caslin confronts the subjects of suicide, drug addiction, economic marginalisation, marriage equality, stigma in mental health, direct provision, institutional power, consent and most recently, the effects of the Covid19 pandemic on young people.

The young woman represented in the 24-meter high image is Amanda Nyoni. Amanda currently lives in the Direct Provision Centre in Tullamore. When she arrived in Ireland she quickly found herself advocating for human rights and inclusion within the local community and became a representative of the Movement for Asylum Seekers Ireland (MASI). She successfully organised a 'Black Lives Matter' demonstration in Tullamore, which saw both the marginalized community and the local community united for a common cause. She is currently a coordinator for the Migrant Minds Matter campaign and works at the Museum of Everyone as projects assistant and inclusions officer. She is currently running the Museum of Everyones "Putting Down Roots Campaign" which is still calling for support details on the MOE website. Amanda finally received refugee status just one week ago.

Pictured here from left to right - Joanne Bissett (Corporate Communications Iarnrod Eireann), Amanda Nyoni, Joe Caslin and Terri Dale-Kearney (In the Open | Faoin Spéir Events Manager.) 

On Fri March 25, Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival curator and visual artist Caroline Conway in association with Birr Theatre and Arts Centre invited audiences to Empty Columns Are a Place to Dream - How to use monuments for Good and Evil with the Irish launch of the publication Empty Columns are a Place to Dream by Ric Kasini Kadour and an exhibition responding to the empty column in Emmet Square by St Brendan’s Community School 5th & 6th year art students.

A panel discussion with historian Regina Dunne and Irish collage artists artists Una Gildea and Anthony D Kelly, and Polish collage artist Marta Janik (in-person and virtually) took place.  

The outdoor exhibition of collage artworks by 5th & 6th art year students of St Brendan’s Community School was launched at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre. The artworks responded creatively to the Cumberland Pillar  (empty column) in Emmet Square.  The reimagining of the empty column by the 5th & 6th year art year students was facilitated by their art teacher Yvonne Claffey, visual artist Caroline Conway, and collage artist Una Gildea.  The creative approach taken was inspired by the 2021 exhibition in Emmet Square as part of Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival.  Under the curation of Ric Kasini Kadour, New Orleans and with the support of the Birr Historical Society, 18 collage artists from across the world researched, discussed, and responded to the Cumberland Pillar, its history, and contemporary issues relating to place, context and past, resulting in an open air  gallery. 

The exhibition was exhibited in Emmet Square until Thurs March 31 and then relocated in The Courtyard at Birr Castle Demesne and open to the public for free until Sunday April 10. For enhanced AR viewing, simply download the Artivive app on your phone, open it and point at the artwork to see it come to life.

Empty Columns Are a Place to Dream was funded by Birr Theatre & Arts Centre and is part of the Arts Council funded Spectacular Vernacular- Making the Ordinary, Extraordinary, In the Open/Faoin Spéir programme and Offaly County Council. Website: InTheOpenOffaly.ie. Facebook.com/InTheOpenOffaly

In the Open | Faoin Spéir Offaly is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and is a collaborative partnership led by Offaly County Council’s Arts Office with Birr Theatre and Arts Centre and Birr Festivals Collective.

RGB Birr - Exploring the John Joly Process by Artist Alan Phelan - Launch at Birr Castle Visitor Centre Thursday, March 24th 6-8pm

Final touches being added to Alan Phelan’s upcoming exhibition RGB BIRR as part of In The Open - Faoin Spéir Spectacular Vernacular. Join us for a glass of wine at the opening this Thursday 24th 6-8pm at Birr Visitors Centre.

Also, follow this curious trail of RGB lines on nearby locations including Birr Theatre & Arts Centre and Marion Hall in Birr, leading to Alan Phelan's photographic exhibition 'RGB Birr - Exploring the Joly Process' - come and help us celebrate and view this innovative process in Alan's photographic displays.  The exhibition is on during opening hours of Birr Castle Visitor Centre until the end of April.

A successful evening launch on Thursday, March 24th

Site Planned in Tullamore for new Joe Caslin Street Art


Expect to see a wonderful, socially engaged street art piece from Joe Caslin on this amazing structure at Tullamore Train Station early April!

Our first site visit - pictured here with Joe Caslin, Joanne from Irish Rail, Curator Brenan Fox and Museum of Everyone representative Amanda Nyoni.

One of Ireland’s leading street artists and activist Joe Caslin will create one of his signature wall pieces following a series of conversations and interactions with asylum seekers in Offaly.  This project centres around identity, representation and connecting established and new communities in Tullamore around creativity and action.

Expect to see Joe’s final image unveiled on Sunday, April 3rd!

Crowned - Exploring African Artistry, Culture, Style and Identity through hair with Breda Mayock and African diaspora

Another exciting In the Open | Faoin Spéir project is in the making!

We came out to see Breda Mayock and her photo session participants at the Tullamore Court Hotel today, that is part of the process of her overall photo exhibition 'Crowned - Exploring Black Hair Culture', which will take place at the Tullamore Library from March 31st until the end of April.

The photo shoot and ultimately the exhibition is a culmination of expression from previous Zoom workshops based on exploring African artistry, style, culture and identity through hair with the participants, which took place between autumn 2021 until recently.

‘Behind These Walls’ Tullamore Gaol Projections - coming up!
Please note due to Met Eireann storm forecast this event originally planned for Fri 18th & Sat 19th of February will now take place on Fri 26th and Sat 27th February 7.30 pm - 10 pm.

Here are some fascinating photos of some preliminary Image Mapping on Tullamore Gaol aka Kilcruttin Business Park which took place on Thursday, January 20th, in preparation for the upcoming 'Behind These Walls' series of image projections as part of In the Open/Faoin Spéir.

Artist Caroline Conway will be displaying a series of images on Feb 25th and 26th, telling the historically significant stories of those who have walked through the structure's walls over the years, and its many faces. 

Here is her depiction of the event:   

We walk past buildings that have great history but give little thought to the human stories tied up in them . These stories connect us to our town and to our past. Tullamore Gaol housed Land Leaguers and Suffragettes and was where the last woman was hanged under British Rule.  It was burned down and rose again as Salts, Tullamore Yarns, the largest employee in town for over 30 years. This history will be brought to life through a spectacular audio visual projection that animates the architecture of the imposing gateway.

Here are some amazing photos of Behind These Walls:

Listed in the above photo are people who have ties to the history, interest or ownership of the Tullamore Gaol.

Here are some more viewers enjoying the illuminations and press release about the full programme of In The Open:

Spectacular Sapiens Postcard Project - Rowena Keaveny

Date: Postcard Displays from Thurs, April 7th-Sat April 30th
Venue: Birr and Tullamore Town

Nominate Your Spectacular Human! Artist Rowena Keaveney is inviting you to celebrate a person in your life whose presence in it has been, ‘Spectacular’. A person who has made a significant and positive contribution to your life or a particular time during it. It could be a teacher who believed in you; a friend who supported you; a person who you once spoke to while waiting at a bus stop or on a train; a medical professional; relative; someone
you’ve since lost touch with or a co-worker. The possibilities are endless and only you will know who that Spectacular person is!

To nominate a Spectacular human you know,
email Rowena at paintpolitik@live.ie with a photo of your nominee attached and a brief explanation as to why they are Spectacular to you, with subject line ‘Spectacular Sapien’ by WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16TH.

A postcard will be made from your nominee’s photo, and postcards will be displayed in Birr Town shop windows and on the In The Open website.

For all information on the project visit www.intheopenoffaly.ie.
All Ages Walk-up & Online.

In The Open/Faoin Speir announces Launch of  Putting Down Roots

On Thursday, November 18th, a special tree planting ceremony took place at Scoile Mhuire Primary School in Tullamore to launch the environmental and arts initiative ‘Putting Down Roots’, attended by some of its students and teachers, organizers and supporters.   This meaningful project is led by the Museum of Everyone, visual artist Steven Doody, assisted by Amanda Nyoni, in association with Easy Treesie and the Irish Refugee Council, and will ultimately see over 8,000 native trees planted across the county of Offaly representing the number of people seeking asylum in Ireland and living in Direct Provision.

Check out this special launch coverage from RTE HERE

Also here is a fantastic article on the Putting Down Roots Launch with Offaly Independent HERE

With a donation of €5 per tree, Putting Down Roots aims to raise over €40,000 to support young people who are in the protection process and who have lived in the Direct Provision system, in order to enter third-level institution. To donate, click here  https://www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie/Appeal/putting-down-roots .  

Putting Down Roots is implementing the idea of communities working together to help these young adults put down roots on the island of Ireland is at the heart of this project.  If you would like to help us plant trees, our first planting day will take place in Tullamore, Co. Offaly this November.  If you would like to get involved, volunteer or have any questions regarding this project email us at museumofeveryone@gmail.com.

Spectacular Vernacular Launch took place on Nov 12th with a screening of Nigel Rolfe’s performance at Lough Boora Bog in Birr Theatre & Art Centre from 2pm with an artist talk at 7pm. 

We couldn't have asked for a more wonderfully inspiring, informative and introspective evening last night with Performance Artist and Lecturer Nigel Rolfe on his recent video performance in Lough Boora Parklands and artist's talk to celebrate the official launch of In The Open/Faoin Spéir.
A huge thanks to Nigel for providing an amazing look into his interpreted world through his extensive artistic career, to Brendan Fox, Curator of In the Open/Faoin Spéir, the crew at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre, Offaly Arts, our stakeholders and attendants on the night.

Nigel Rolfe has been performing as a live artist for the last 4 decades. He has also worked extensively as an artist, curator and lecturer. Since 2008 performance has become his primary form of artistic expression. Major retrospectives of his work have been held at the Irish Museum Of Modern Art in Dublin and at the Musee D’Art Moderne de la Ville De Paris. He has exhibited in Dublin, Paris, São Paulo, Busan, Kwangju, and Venice Biennales and presented in numerous international art fairs. He is Performance Pathway Program Leader and Professor Of Performance at the Royal College of Art In London. Rolfe is concerned with art being a live and vital engagement. His performances are bodily acts and reminders of our presence in the here and now.