Julie Feeney and sean nos star Emma O'Sullivan to feature in free Coole Park Spring programme

Varied arts, cultural and education events as super Coole programme goes from strength to strength

Galway county heritage officer Marie Mannion, Friends of Coole Park project manager Brid Higgins , chairman of Friends of Coole Park Ronnie O'Gorman, and county arts officer Maria Cuningham pictured at the launch of the Coole Spring Program on Monday afternoon. Photo: Reg Gordon

Galway county heritage officer Marie Mannion, Friends of Coole Park project manager Brid Higgins , chairman of Friends of Coole Park Ronnie O'Gorman, and county arts officer Maria Cuningham pictured at the launch of the Coole Spring Program on Monday afternoon. Photo: Reg Gordon

THE Spring element of the Coole Park Cultural Programme was launched this week and includes a wide range of lectures as well as performances by singer songwriter Julie Feeney and All-Ireland talent show star Emma O'Sullivan.

The programme gets underway tonight (Thursday ) with a lecture entitled –A Strangers Gaze ‘The Town Land of Coole: Stony, Rocky and Two Thirds Profitable’ by Terri Shoosmith — an NUIG PhD student who has recently completed an MA in early modern history, studying Landscape and Settlement in the Barony of Tulla, 1585-1810.

In this lecture, Terri Shoosmith focuses on the Books of Survey and Distribution, compiled from records first obtained in the 1640s.

Once again The Friends of Coole, in partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Services, Galway County Council, Galway Rural Development, Galway Education Centre, Fáilte Ireland West and the community of Gort are hosting this programme available free to the general public.

The programme holds events in spring and winter yearly, endeavours to showcase locally based artists and lectures on locally based topics. The programme was initiated in 2005 on a pilot basis and its success to date is largely due to the strong partnership of agencies and active community involvement in its organisation, delivery and support.

The Coole Park biannual series of cultural events continues this Spring with a feast of culture for the upcoming Spring Arts and Heritage Programme 2010. The programme aims to integrate arts, culture and education with a series of events for adults, young people and families. Events include traditional music, creative writings, readings, a sean-nós dancing workshop, an Irish play and launch ofFéile Raftéiri, classical music, Mexican music drama and storytelling. There is a series of environment and heritage lectures on Reading and Understanding the Landscape - a course which is a follow on from previous Reading the Landscape courses held at Coole in the past. There are also some family educational and fun days planned to mark World Wetlands Day and Tree Week. The programme has something for all ages.

The NUI Certificate in Local History is being delivered as an outreach programme at Coole Park Visitor Centre. The course provides participants interested in local history with an opportunity to obtain formal training in the subject matter. This course is now in its second semester. The project is funded by Galway Rural Development. The fact that NUI Maynooth approved Coole Park Visitor Centre to deliver their outreach programme stresses the importance of having such a facility locally from the education and cultural perspective as it serves as a focus for the area.

The haven that is Coole Park Reserve, on the doorstep of Gort serves both Galway and Clare and it is a marvellous educational facility for both children and adults. The Spring Arts, Cultural and Educational Programme 2010 continues this tradition.

This year’s programme has all its arts events in January and February and all its heritage events in February and March. These changes were required for funding reasons.

The programme varies slightly to previous years in that all the arts events take place on Mondays and Thursdays from mid January to mid February and all the heritage course lectures take place on Mondays and Thursdays from mid February to mid March.

The arts series begins on Monday January 25, 8.00pm – 9.00pm with a phenomenal evening of Irish music with Denis Liddy & Elvie Miller. Fiddle player Denis Liddy, leading member of the famed Turloughmore Céili Band is immersed in music. He will be accompanied by Elvie Miller, who over the years has shifted from classical piano to Irish/contra dance accordion and piano. Both Liddy and Miller performed together at the Milwaukee Irish Fest in 2007.

On Thursday January 28 8.00 - 9.00pm, the writer in residence with Galway County Council will give a talk entitled ‘Inside and outside the gates’. This lecture is on Yeats, Kavanagh, the big house and the cottage in rural Ireland - is focuses on the relationship of these poets with the landscape in rural Ireland.

On Saturday 30th January, 2.00pm – 5.00pm the Friends of Coole are privileged to have All Ireland Champion sean-nós dancer Emma O’Sullivan who will conduct a Sean-nós Dancing Workshop. Emma is currently in the semi final of the All Ireland Talent Show on RTE 1. So why not take the opportunity to learn a few steps? Advanced booking is required as places are limited.

Details of the February and March events will be carried in this newspaper as they arise.

The schools educational programme which takes place at the Visitor Centre during the school year continues again this year, now catering from first to sixth classes. Primary schools in Counties Galway and Clare attend the schools programme, which has grown yearly in the past few years. The programme involves both indoor and outdoor activities: a guided tour of the exhibition at the visitor centre with Hilda Mac Lochlainn, an audio visual on Lady Gregory, and outdoor field trips in Coole Nature Reserve with Gordon D’Arcy, Dolores Keegan and NPWS staff.

Remember that admission to all events at Coole is free, a bonus surely in these times. So go along and bring a friend.

Contact Coole Park Visitor Centre if you have not received a copy of the programme or for details on any of the events. 091 631804.



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