Culture vultures invade streets, galleries, theatres . . . and even the Dáil

There were 1,300 events held around the country as part of Culture Night

 Adel Bourke, Cathy Fagan, Fidelma Bonass, Rita Fagen and Bridie Egan dressed as 1913 Jacobs workers at Dublin’s City Hall for Culture Night. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Adel Bourke, Cathy Fagan, Fidelma Bonass, Rita Fagen and Bridie Egan dressed as 1913 Jacobs workers at Dublin’s City Hall for Culture Night. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Sat, Sep 21, 2013, 01:00

If Christy Moore or Mike Scott are looking for a B-side for their respective ditties on a certain drinks-sponsored event next Thursday then last night provided real inspiration.

Amid all the talk of Irish culture being appropriated for commercial gain, men, women and especially children reclaimed the streets – as well as the art galleries, theatres and even Leinster House – as dusk turned to darkness. And there was barely a drink in sight.

Whatever about “Down with Arthur’s Day”, it was very much “Up with Culture Night”.

“We would not normally take them into town at night; it’s so nice to be able to do it,” said Sinead Smyth, from Lucan, who brought her children Séan and Maeve on the heavily oversubscribed tour of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

“He really wanted to come,” she adds, pointing to the eldest of the pair, who is in sixth class at Scoil Mhuire, Woodview, and was clutching a complimentary copy of the 1916 Proclamation. “He is mad into Jim Larkin.”

After a week of angry protests outside the Dáil, last night’s public invasion was a lot more civil. More than 1,600 people filed through the chambers, getting perhaps a last chance to sit in a Seanad seat, followed by a complimentary cup of tea and a concert from ladies barber-shop group, Ireland Unlimited.

The Kildare Street tour was one of 1,300 events across the country, on a night that proves a couple of things about the Irish. We love our culture, and we’ll queue pretty much any length of time for a freebie.

How else do you explain the 300-deep line outside the Masonic hall on Molesworth Street, or the conga line around College Green that looked for all intents and purposes like a run on the banks? In fact, it turned out to be the queue for the National Wax Museum.