Artists to celebrate Irish presidency with performances across Europe


Musicians including Villagers and The Chieftains, film director Jim Sheridan and novelist Jennifer Johnston are among the artists who will be involved in the cultural programme to mark Ireland’s presidency of the EU.

Some 400 events have been organised around the EU presidency both in Ireland and across the European Union in a programme entitled Culture Connects.

Ireland’s cultural programme started on Tuesday night with a performance by trad act The Gloaming in Brussels, which was attended by 600 people.

Villagers, who are about to release their new album, Nothing Arrived, next week, will play the Eurosonic festival in the Netherlands tomorrow night.

Eurosonic is Europe’s largest showcase festival for up and coming acts.

Glen Hansard will lead the Irish artists performing at the Celtic Connections festival in Scotland, while The Chieftains will headline Ireland’s EU presidency gala concert in Brussels in April. There will be a Jim Sheridan retrospective in Brussels in March and the Irish pavilion at the Cannes festival in May will also promote the EU presidency.

All 27 member states, along with non-member countries including Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, will host Irish events.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan said the €3 million cost of the cultural programme was €1 million less than when Ireland last held the presidency.

He said the money would be spent on artists who themselves were going through a difficult time and it represented “really strong value for money”. “In most cases it is very small money, but I find that small investment in the arts can leverage large amounts of activity.”

Culture was one of Ireland’s strong points when the country was trying to improve its image on the world stage after the economic woes of recent years, he said. “This gives us a chance to reinforce that advantage.”

Events line-up: what to expect

Temple Bar TradFest,January 22nd-27th: performers from Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Spain and Poland.

The Drogheda Singing Gathering,February 8th-10th: European traditional singers.

European TV Drama Co-Production Forum,March 20th-21st: networking event.

United States of Europe,Crawford Gallery, Cork, March 8th-30th: exhibition on citizenship, freedom of expression, democracy and identity.

Dublin Writers Festival,May 20th-26th: the theme will be Ireland’s place in Europe.

European Day at An Chúirt International Harp Festival,Louth, June 30th.