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Spotlight on the Liberties in Dublin’s bid for culture capital

Back in 1991 when Dublin last held the title of culture capital it was a very different place. There was a lot to celebrate that year with the emergence of singer Sinead O Connor and the world famous band U2. Trinity College was celebrating 400 years of history and Dubliner Christy Brown was the inspiration for the Oscar-winning film “My Left Foot”.

It was the year of the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Custom House, The 50th anniversary of the death of James Joyce and in the Liberties area of Dublin, the 800th anniversary of the opening of St.Patrick’s Cathedral. In Kilmainham the Irish Museum of Modern Art was poised to open and the Temple Bar area was being heralded as the new bohemian cultural centre of Dublin!

What would it mean to Dublin in the present time if Irelands bid was successful? I spoke to Gary Granville at the arts and education office at the National College of Arts and Design in Thomas Street. He is hugely enthusiastic about the prospect, “We are looking at the idea of taking the college out to the streets of Dublin 8, using the streets and homes of the Liberties as a living concept. We are constantly looking for support funding and have applied to Failte Ireland. Commercial businesses and Dublin City Council have been very supportive but it is an ongoing struggle.”

He added: “This would give a banner and a platform for the arts to provide a cultural corridor from the IMMA to Kilmainham. There is a vibrant arts community in the Rialto and Fatima Flats complex working with the community through the realm of dance, drama and art. If Dublin were to become the City of Culture these activities could benefit hugely from access to both funding and support”.

Granville was previously a teacher in the Liberties College in the late 70’s and as he says, “he is back home again in his post at NCAD.” His final words were that if Dublin’s bid was to prove successful: “It could prove the biggest platform to arts and the community in Dublin 8.”

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