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Engaging the whole city

Co Author:
Louise Osborne

Over the last few months we have been busy bees across Dublin with our city-wide artist-led ENGAGE THE CITY projects. Communities have been working with our team of artists and magic-makers to share their stories, learn new skills and create amazing works of art. Lets go on a journey across Dublin to see what’s been happening…

Let’s start in North Dublin, near the shore of the Irish Sea, where a group of young men have worked with theatre-maker Veronica Dyas to explore characters and write new stories about their lives. This particularly creative bunch explored ways that people can leave a positive mark on society and how to use art to talk about the “things that really matter”. Through poetry and spoken word, this group have shared stories – and many laughs! – with Veronica.

Moving West to the Phoenix Park, artist Michelle McMahon has spent many an evening watching the sun set over the cricket grounds with the Theatrical Cavaliers Cricket Club. The group have worked with Michelle to research the social history of cricket and talk about the importance of community… and have even shared a skill or two to help both Michelle and Project Manager Louise Osborne to improve their (previously non-existent) cricket skills! The team have been generous with their time, their chats and their cricket knowledge and as we move into the winter months, the National Library of Ireland have generously invited the group to have a rare glimpse of the cricket archive. If you like the sound of this, keep your eyes peeled for our cricket Culture Club in November where you too can pick up some knowledge from both the National Archives and the skilled Cavaliers!

Illustrated map of where just some of the Engage the City projects are taking place across Dublin

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  1. The Theatrical Cavaliers Cricket Club in Phoenix Park with theatre maker Michelle McMahon
  2. Children from Belmayne creating their dream city with Architect Evelyn Darcy 
  3. SAOL Project creating characters with Veronica Dyas 
  4. Teenagers at the ‘What Makes You Smile’ photo booth at Zeminar at the RDS with Niki Collier
  5. Members of the U3A Ballymun group on a tour of NCAD fashion department with John Conway

As the crow flies, move South to Rialto and the Day Centre in St Andrew’s Community Centre where the smell of stew bubbling in the kitchen will bring you back to memories of childhood and recipes of days gone by. Here with the group in the centre, textile artist Liz Nilsson has been talking about the memories that certain foods can hold and the stories that come out when sharing food together. Debates over the true ingredients of Irish Stew and the treat of cooking potatoes in foil up the chimney are just some of the stories that have been brought to the table. Participants have also created beautiful prints and paintings with Liz, using the ingredients from their favourite recipes – who knew an onion, a carrot or even garlic could make such interesting patterns?

Now we head East to the RDS where thousands of young people flocked to the Zeminar ‘youth summit’. Here we had designer Niki Collier and theatre artist Shane Daniel Byrne chatting with ‘Generation Z’ about the things that matter to them in their daily lives. Niki displayed hats and encouraged the teens to try them on in the cultural photobooth, talking about identity and embracing difference. Meanwhile, Shane Daniel Byrne researched the support structures for LGBTQ+ young people , questioning what it is like to be a young gay person in Dublin today. Teens embraced Niki and Shane with open arms and shared their stories and experiences of culture, and got particularly creative with the chalkboard wall of smiles!

Finally on this journey we find ourselves back on the streets of Dublin, the familiar hustle and bustle of the city centre greeting our ears.  Here, theatre maker Joan Somers Donnelly has been meeting with people who are experiencing Direct Provision services. The group have come together to express through drama, movement, drawing and words their experiences of Dublin city and the places they call home.

All these are tasters of how our artists have reached across the length and breadth of fair Dublin through ‘Engage the City’. You might also come across designer Ines Metzner with the Daughters of Charity in Cabra, visual artist John Conway talking about changing fashion trends in Ballymun, musician Robbie Blake collecting sounds and stories in Terenure or even architect Evelyn D’Arcy and a throng of children investigating the streets, buildings and spaces that make up Dublin city centre.

There are stories sitting around corner of our fair city, waiting for their moment in the sun. ENGAGE THE CITY is supporting people to share their tales, learn creative skills, connect with their neighbourhood and have a whole lot of laughs along the way!

Do you have a story to share? Contact us on

Engage The City is a new programme by Dublin’s Culture Connects creating connections between artists and Dubliners through a variety of creative endeavours. With a team of artists, we are capturing the experiences of what Dublin is and what it could be; taking the temperature of how Dubliners are feeling and connecting people and place through cultural ideas.



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