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THE BIG WALK

Co Author:
Laura Larkin

As part of Dublin’s Culture Connects’ The National Neighbourhood, local walking groups from Raheny, St Anne’s Park, and Coolock’s Stardust Memorial Park and Spectrum Theatre group from Donnycarney have been using their parks in new ways, working with dancers Justine Cooper and Muirne Bloomer. THE BIG WALK was a special experience for all involved, that took place last weekend – April 8th – in St Anne’s Park Raheny. From pop-up performances and live music along a historical park walking route to tea, cake and chats in the rose garden, we have a lovely few hours with over 100 Dublin folks. We even joined together to make a “farandole” (a celebratory dance where people form a human chain and make patterns) – not something you see every day!

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The history of the park was remarkably shared by Denis McIntyre who is part of the St Anne’s Park walking group. Inspired by Stardust Walking group’s activities, Spectrum Youth Theatre group and Justine Cooper put on their beautiful surprise display with a ribbon dance to welcome in the spring and shortly after, everyone in the audience got a chance to tie their own ribbon on a tree by St Anne’s Well to wish for good things to come. After a nice walk via the park’s animal tree sculpture, we visited the herb garden and the Chinese garden by the clock tower where John Maher the herbalist who regularly plants there said a few words about the medicinal importance of some of the plants growing there. Finally, we stopped by the Rose Garden where Denis shared with us some final historical points about the park and the Guinness family who once owned it.

Choreographer Muirne Bloomer then welcomed some dancers to perform a piece reflecting on some of the movement work done by Raheny and St Anne’s Park walkers over the last few months and Justine then led the crowd out for some tea and cake by holding hands and creating patterns with a large community farandole dance. Our musicians who were the pied pipers leading everyone joyfully from place to place all day, entertained some more and everyone enjoyed some well-earned refreshments. The sunshine even peeped out a few times along the route, what more could we ask for!

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The whole event was a representation of the beauty we have on our doorstep here in Dublin, the healing, uplifting power of walking and moving in nature and the importance of making new friends. I hope the local walking groups will continue to grow and inspire for generations to come. They have certainly inspired us…

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.

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).

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