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Taking to the streets with The National Neighbourhood

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As we head into another spring, the green shoots of this year’s National Neighbourhood are starting to show: community groups are getting involved, artists are being inspired, workshops are up and running and things are happening. We’ve asked each of our project managers to give a sense of how the National Neighbourhood is progressing in their areas. 

In the Southeast, we are looking back over work produced by transition year students from Synge Street with poet Enda Wyley and visual artist Yvonne Cullivan as they build a portrait of their city through words and images. We are reflecting on the fun we had with the boys, visiting the National Gallery – where they picked the winner of the Hennessy Portrait Prize – and the National Archives where they looked at old criminal records and maps showing how much and yet how little this historic part of Dublin has changed with its spires pointing skywards. And last but not least: visiting that other famous old Dublin cultural institution, Leo Burdocks!

We are about to resume work with St Patrick’s Cathedral Grammar School who had to concentrate on their music duties over Christmas and are really looking forward to starting work with Warrenmount Secondary School this week. We are also exploring exciting ways of bringing their work onto the streets of Dublin so watch out over the next few months…

Bernadette Larkin, South East Area

Students of Warrenmount in the National Archives participating in The National Neighbourhood. Image: Anne Maree Barry

In South Central it’s all about early noises. Like when you can hear someone singing in another room, but can’t quite make out the tune. So the Kylemore Choir’s Christmas Concert with The Young At Heart Chorus looks to be the start of a great thing. Musician Robbie Blake is quietly recording the sounds of Hollybrook Lodge. Sean Miller has become the “artist at breakfast” in Bluebell’s Friday breakfast club and we’re looking for people on the fun side of fifty who fancy singing in St James’ Hospital on a Monday morning and chase the Monday blues away.

It’s all about early noises in South Central, and the crocuses are peeping their heads out.

Dominic Campbell, South Central Area

In the Central area, artists Nick Roth (music and sound) and Colm Keegan (poetry and spoken word) have been busy exploring the North Strand / Ballybough area as they prepare to map the neighbourhood through story and sound with local youth groups, SWAN Youth Service and NYP2. Workshops kick off on Jan 17th and there are already murmurings of a kayaking poetry workshop in the Royal Canal: mad!

At the same time, theatre maker Sorcha Kenny has recently come on board as lead artist and will be busy meeting women’s groups in the Dublin 7 and Dublin 1 area this month to develop an arts project which we hope will resonate with women across the city, particularly in this centenary year of women’s suffrage.

Linda Devlin, Central Area

In the North Central area, there is a lot happening outdoors for 2018, getting everyone out of their winter hibernation. Our dancers are connecting local walking groups to their surroundings: dancer Justine Cooper will be exploring patterns in nature and finding different ways to move through and appreciate our local parks. Fairview art and craft groups are working with artist Evelyn D’Arcy on designing a hand-weaved willow garden in Fairview Park, designs they will then develop in installation workshops by the Newgrange Willow Weavers. Clontarf Cub Scouts are composing songs with musicians Donal Gunne and Inni K about coastline preservation. They’re also getting ready for a big coastal litter-pick over the next few weeks, to find the makings of recycled instruments! Watch this space! 

Laura Larkin, North Central Area

Children from Broombridge Educate Together working on The National Neighbourhood project

As with all Dublin’s Culture Connects programmes, the starting point is always the people locally, their stories and interests as garnered from conversations in communities. The National Neighbourhood in the North West area has a particular focus on the hidden rivers of the area and the hidden stories of women, beginning with the thousand year old Viking woman’s remains discovered in Finglas in 2004.

Our project, “Women of the Tolka River Valley”, led out by artists Jane Groves, Claire Halpin, Susan McKeown and myself as project manager, involves local people of all ages. The key art forms are music, spoken word and visual arts. In 2018, the centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland, women in history is a central theme for us. Following on from the recent official recognition of Irish Sign Language as a native and independent language in December 2017, the Deaf Village in Cabra and the Holy Family School for the Deaf are also among the key participants.

Brian Fleming, North West Area

 The National Neighbourhood spans the Dublin City Council region, and brings together Dublin City Council’s City Library & Archive, the area offices, the City Arts Office and Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, in partnership with National Cultural Institutions (The Abbey Theatre, The National Museum of Ireland, The National Library of Ireland, The National Gallery of Ireland, The National Concert Hall, The Chester Beatty Library, The National Archives and The Irish Museum of Modern Art).

The core value is the public and cultural community working together, connecting Dubliners in significant ways on projects that are relevant to their expressed concerns. Each project has evolved from a series of conversations and are harnessing the appetites of particular groups for cultural engagement. With the National Neighbourhood, we want every neighbourhood to know and “own” their city’s cultural resources so we build cultural projects in community settings. We connect artists, groups and villages with libraries, museums and creative places to deepen their understanding of each other and themselves.



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