July 20, 2011



Draíocht Blanchardstown Celebrated its 10th Birthday in the company of President of Ireland Mary McAleese and over 400 guests on Friday 15 July 2011.


“The future for Draíocht has so many possibilities. We respond, initiate and facilitate; open doors to worlds that people could never imagine. If we keep doing that, our future is looking bright.”

Emer McGowan, Director Draíocht

Draíocht Blanchardstown was absolutely thronged on Friday evening and rightly so! The Centre was celebrating its 10th Birthday with an invited guest-list numbering over 420 people.

The President’s speech was heart felt and captured the feeling of pride and celebration of all who were in attendance;

 “It’s the 10th Birthday and we are under the spell of Draíocht. It’s an amazing thing really … the place has just absolutely resonated with the joy that comes of having arts right at the centre of people’s lives. Draíocht set out to create a community where children would grow up with arts at the centre of their lives. They would not just be mere spectators, but contributors, as artists of some sort or another. It starts with a seed in the  imagination in a human being … and the more seeds we plant, the more people who see themselves as people in whom that seed is growing, the richer our cultural life and in particular the richer our community life.

The world is more beautiful, the world is more full of wonder, the world is more full of good things, thanks to the world of Draíocht, thanks to the magic of the arts. It’s a great thing to come here, to celebrate 10 years. Now when you think of Blanchardstown, you think of Draíocht. It has become so intrinsic, so woven into the community. What a wonderful gift, right at the heart of the Community.”

Comments made by President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, during her speech in Draiocht, 15 July 2011.


Music was provided on the evening by children from The Castleknock School of Music, with a solo piano piece played especially for the President by student Rachel Armstrong. 

All the local performing groups were represented among the guests, including Marie Barber and Gladys Coyle from Stagezone, Bernie Aston from Dance Fusion, Catherine Kennington from Coolmine Musical Society, Linda Tristram from Coolmine Drama Group, John Furlong from Coolmine Panto Group, Mary O’Reilly from the Pioneer Musical Society and Paul Cullen from OnQ Theatre Company to name but a few. Past performers and artists mingled with the crowd including singer Maria Tecce, actress Nuala Hayes, artists Desmond Kenny and Garvan Gallagher, all in the very capable hands of local MC Paddy Coyle.

Joining the crowd were local business representatives including David Donnelly, President of the D15 Chamber, Tony Lambert, CEO of Fingal Dublin Chamber, Pat Fitzgerald and Annette Davey from The Blanchardstown Centre, Fr Dan Joe, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, Minister for Transport Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar, Mayor of Fingal Gerry Maguire, Deputy Mayor of Fingal Patrick Nulty, Councillors Peggy Hamill, David McGuinness, Daragh Butler and Kieran Dennison and Draíocht Board Members Stephen Vernon from Green Properties, Rory O’Byrne County Arts Officer, David O’Connor Chairperson and Grainne Ui Chaomhanaigh, Principal of Scoil Oilibheir.

Inside in the Main Auditorium a slide show of 10 years of memories played to a funky backing tune followed by ‘Happy Birthday to Draiocht’ sung by Coolmine Musical Society, recorded a few days previous in Scoil Oilibheir.

The entire evening was being broadcast live by local radio station Phoenix FM with Donal O’Sullivan at the helm. Key individuals were plucked from the crowd at various intervals for interviews, including County Manager David O’Connor, past board member Oliver Beirne and local hero Fr Dan Joe. The entire evening can be heard on Phoenix FM’s podcast on their website.

Children scurried around happily having had their faces painted and a bunch of teenagers from Dublin 15’s newest Youth Theatre were in attendance, having been featured the day before in an interview with RTE’s Drivetime, which the President happened to listen to on her drive to Draiocht just before she arrived at 6pm.

The good wishes continue to pour in via email and on Facebook and even includes and Happy Birthday message from none other than Jedward, which can be seen on Draiocht’s YouTube page.

Emer McGowan, Director of Draiocht since November 2003 says:
“There are so many aspects of working in Draiocht that are rewarding and enjoyable. There is great joy in working in a multi-disciplinary venue which facilitates people of all ages to engage in many art forms in a variety of ways. The fact that we have become an integral part of Dublin 15 is really important to us and also our work with children and young people is a part of our programme that I am really proud of. With more than 50,000 people a year visiting Draiocht, its great that the demand for a cultural facility came from the local community. It was a call that was met by Fingal County Council who built the arts centre. Local people have an investment in Draiocht, feel it’s theirs ... so I think it’s a vital part of the whole landscape that makes up Dublin 15.

You never stand still in an arts centre. You always want to develop more programmes, different programmes, reach new people, perhaps introduce more regular users to new work.  

We have had a number of events to mark our 10th birthday. These include a 10 year retrospective of local artist, Des Kenny's work, a 15 month residency of artist Garvan Gallagher which included both an inter generational project and an exhibition of Garvan's own work; we also co-produced a children's show with Branar Dramiochta for our children's festival, Spreacha.

President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, joined us on July 15th to mark our 10th birthday. The President officially launched Draiocht in 2001. She also opened our Mosiac project in 2002 and our first children's festival in 2004. We are delighted that in this, the President's last year of office, she can join us for this milestone in our development.

There are so many memorable moments in the history of the venue, that there are just too many too mention. With 50,000 people coming in to the building each year and with 27,000 contact points with children/young people each year, every one will have their 'moment', the one that means most or has had the greatest impact on them. That's the joy in some ways ... you can never know them all.

The future for Draiocht has so many possibilities. We respond, initiate and facilitate;, open doors to worlds that people could never imagine. If we keep doing that, our future is looking bright.”
Emer McGowan, Director, Draiocht


Hundreds of events have taken place in Draíocht since it opened in 2001.
On average, there are 50,000 people through our doors every year and we have 27,000 contact points with young people each year.

Here are a few highlights.

drama & dance highlights
Draíocht has hosted international performances from companies from all over the world, including Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Switzerland and South Africa to name but a few, as well as performances from renowned Irish Companies, including Red Kettle, Fishamble, Barrabas, Calypso, City Theatre Dublin, Storytellers, Barnstorm, Lane Productions, Donal O’Kelly Productions, Dance Theatre of Ireland, Rex Levitates, Fidget Feet and Ballet Ireland. Draíocht has also hosted performances from the many local groups in Dublin 15 and environs, including Coolmine Panto Group, Coolmine Musical Society, Coolmine Drama Circle, Cecilians, Classic Revival, Pioneers, Marion Lennon School of Ballet, Fingal County Youth Orchestra, Stagezone, Dance Fusion, Starkids, Bolton School of Dance, Norma Breen Stage School, Voiceworks, OnQ Theatre Company and many more. 


Music highlights
So many musicians have played to packed houses in Draiocht, including:
Frances Black, Luka Bloom, Johnny McEvoy, Liam Clancy, Juliet Turner, Kíla, Tommy Fleming, Paddy Cole, The Fureys & Davey Arthur, Christie Hennessy, Mary Coughlan, Brian Kennedy, Rebecca Storm, Dickie Rock, Red Hurley, Freddie White, Don Baker, Brendan Shine, Hazel O’Connor, Eimear Quinn, Niamh Kavanagh, Louis Stewart, Honor Heffernan, Leslie Dowdall and The Three Tenors.


Comedy highlights
Tommy Tiernan, Dara O’Briain, Jarlath Regan, Deirdre O’Kane, Des Bishop, Jason Byrne & Kevin McAleer have made packed houses laugh at Draíocht. So too have David O’Doherty, Karl Spain, Kevin McAleer, Maeve Higgins, Colin Murphy, Brendan Grace, Neil Delamere, Jon Kenny, Eric Lalor, Andrew Stanley and Andrew Maxwell.


Children & youth arts highlights
Thousands of children have engaged in all sorts of workshops and projects at Draíocht including drama, sculpture, singing, choreography and painting.
The Mosaic Masterpiece Project (2002), made by 350 children from 12 local primary schools working with 5 artists, takes pride of place just inside Draíocht’s front door.
Draíocht’s children’s festival, Spréacha, launched in September 2004 is now an annual festival attracting over 3000 people a year.


Visual arts highlights
Since opening in 2001, Draíocht has hosted exhibitions featuring more than 350 artists, in more than 100 exhibitions and has housed 18 Artists in Residents in its Studio for periods ranging from 3 months to 15 months. 
The two Galleries have been used to host local, national and international work comprising a vast array of media, from painting, photography and sculpture to video, sound and visual new media. Local artists awarded residencies in Draíocht’s Artists Studio include David Balfe, Desmond Kenny, Genevieve Harden and Paul Coffey. Amharc Fhine Gall, now in its 8th year, showcases work from Fingal County Council's Collection each year in Draíocht.



Draíocht is generously funded by Fingal County Council with additional funding provided by The Arts Council. Draíocht also has a loyal network of Friends who contribute annually to the Company.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Draiocht Info,

Jedward say Happy 10th Birthday to Draiocht

July 18, 2011

Jedward say Happy 10th Birthday to Draiocht

Thanks a million to Jedward for their Happy Birthday wishes for Draiocht Blanchardstown, as we celebrate 10 years of providing entertainment and arts in Dublin 15 and its surrounds, during 2001-2011.

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Happy 10th Birthday Draiocht

July 12, 2011

Happy 10th Birthday Draiocht


Celebrating 10 Years of Arts & Entertainment


2011 sees Draíocht celebrate our 10th birthday.  It has been an exciting 10 years as we sought to bring all our audiences of all ages a diverse range of high quality arts experiences. So whether your interest lay in attending performances, creating work or participating in workshops, we have programmed it, here in your local venue. 50,000 people a year attend events at Draíocht, many more attend our galleries, use our facilities and drop into us for a coffee at Betelnut Cafe. To all of you and to all of the artists from all disciplines that enable us offer the programmes we do, a very, very, big thank you. It has been our pleasure to work for you and we will continue to offer you the same great range of experiences in the years to come.

A special thank you must be given to our principal funder, Fingal County Council and to the Arts Council who provide additional funding. Without this public funding, Draíocht would not be able to bring you the range of work we do.

Draiocht acknowledges gratefully the support of everyone who has been through the doors in the last 10 years ... Audience Members / Local, National & International Promoters & Producers / Friends Scheme Members / Seat Owners / Music & Film Club Members / Our Foundation Sponsors, Donators & Development Partners since 2001 / Euro Club Members / All Artists, Technicians & Facilitators / Current and Past Staff and Board / Schools / Colleges / Local & National Media / Corporate Clients / Café Users / Suppliers / YOU!

Special Thanks to Coolmine Musical Society for recording our Happy Birthday song so beautifully. Click here ... 

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Why arts are so important for young people?

June 30, 2011

Why arts are so important for young people?

Sarah Beirne, Children & Youth Arts Officer, Draíocht

This is the third year Draíocht has run this Art Explorers Summer Workshop Series with artist and facilitator Genevieve Harden, together with Sarah Beirne, Children & Youth Arts Officer with Draíocht.

Draíocht has a commitment to working with children and young people and opening up opportunities of high quality arts experiences such as these. This commitment is based on a belief that all people are entitled to experience high quality and varied arts experiences and so all children are entitled to creative and cultural opportunities.

Genevieve has years of experience working in community arts and has been involved in various workshops with young people with Draíocht for the last 10 years. She is a regular arts facilitator at our free Saturday Family Days that run throughout the school year. This summer the Art Explorer’s Workshops (4-8 July 2011) will concentrate on works of famous artists. We'll paint a bit like Van Gogh and sculpt a bit like Sir Henry Moore. We'll give the young participants a chance to explore a range of materials and be introduced to some of the great art works from different times and different places.

Arts experiences for young people and children are important as the arts can be a safe place to explore their imagination, to express themselves and to find new ways of communicating and socializing. Participating in high quality arts from a young age has the ability to strengthen problem solving skills and critical thinking skills, as well as giving young people the chance to meet and negotiate with new friends. During these workshops, for example, participates will work together on projects, so learning to collaborate and develop crucial skills in cooperation, decision-making, leadership, communication and problem solving while working with others. In such workshops the imagination can run where it wishes giving a chance for participants to develop cognitive and creative skills. For some participants they will discover a life long love of art and arts participation that can enrich life. For some it can even become their main motivation for going to school or later a career in the creative arts or simply a social and enjoyable outlet. The arts have the ability to teach young people to be more tolerant and open through multicultural and historical perspectives, for example by exploring artists from different times and places.

During visual arts workshops such as Art Explorers in Draíocht, children will create works through the materials at hand, things that are important and relevant to them. The arts give the opportunity to actually participate in the world - you don't just watch someone else doing - you are doing. 

Involving and engaging young people and children in the arts is an opportunity to ask them about what they think, rather then telling them what they should think. Mostly art has the ability to provide a fun experience. It gives the opportunity to celebrate work, have a chat - get a bit messy and to take pride in a job well done.

“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.” (taken from Pablo Picasso Quotes, Spanish Artist & Painter 1881-1973).

More info on Art Explorers Summer Projects at Draiocht ...


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By Draíocht. Tags: Youth Arts,

A Fond Farewell to Garvan Gallagher

May 31, 2011

A Fond Farewell to Garvan Gallagher

Artist Interview with Garvan Gallagher – 31 May 2011

Draíocht says goodbye today to its longest ever resident artist Garvan Gallagher, who has been working with the Centre since 01 March 2010. We chatted to him as he tidied out the Studio …

Q: So can you remember your first day here, back in March 2010? It seems like a long time ago in one way, and yet it’s flown by in another way!
Yes, it seems like only a few months ago, but actually when I was clearing my things, nuggets from the 15 months resurfaced and it puts it into context. My first day was like the new boy in a big space with open windows. It was exciting, new things always are, and I knew what I was going to be working on, so I got down to some research after a quick blog update with my new empty studio.

Q: So how important has this time been for you in Draíocht’s Artists Studio?
I think it’s fantastic to offer this to an artist. The physical space is one thing, and as a photographer, I probably didn’t need such a huge space, but the emotional space (if you can call it that) is really as important. That space where I could base myself to work in the community, a community where I’m a total blow in. Draíocht having such a prominent place in Dublin 15 allowed me to immediately begin having conversations with people without them wondering if I was an axe murderer or just slightly crazy.

Q: You’ve been working hard on some big projects during your time here, including the Intergenerational Photography Project & Exhibition. Can you tell us a little bit more about this project and the people involved?
The Intergenerational project was a fantastic success in so many ways. Other than the fact that the end exhibition looked fantastic, the entire process was really interesting, exciting and allowed me to do something completely new, something I’d never done before. Facilitating a group of people was daunting to begin with but the participants gave 100% and they were all so amazing to work with. Sarah Beirne with her little box of tricks, fantastic attitude and unending supply of props was vital to the whole thing. The intergenerational element to the project was something all the participants picked up on in the feedback; it was the one element all the participants really enjoyed. Whatever about the project, this little social experiment was the biggest success for me. It was a truly enjoyable, rewarding and incredibly valuable experience.

Q: What would you say is the thing you most enjoyed about your time in Draíocht?
Probably the Intergenerational project and working with the lovely Sarah Bierne. We were a good team. That and eating cake and being able to bring Fred (my dog) to work every day. Fred wasn’t allowed any cake though.

Q: Have you any funny memories of the last year in Draíocht that really stand out in your mind?
Erm, the Christmas party ...

Q: How did you keep motivated if you were having a bad day?
Working on a residency so long allowed me to work on other things too that had to pay the bills. I set up a photography workshop/school in town, which took a lot of my summer last year. If I was really having a bad day, I’d treat myself to some coffee, donuts and head home to watch some West Wing by the fire.

Q: Could you tell us a little more about your forthcoming exhibition in Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery later in 2011?
Normally when I work on something I have a pretty good idea what I will exhibit. Right now, and this is a good thing, I’m not 100% sure. I know there will be some recreated fashion photographs using the older body as opposed to the youthful skinny superhuman one; there will be lots of personal stories confined to a publication as well as being told by the people themselves in a video piece; there will be photos of the ‘real’ people in their own fashion and what they have to say about it and also a piece on reflections – that last piece I’ve no idea what it will be yet. So it will be an interesting mixed bag but with a very human element, and all from people around Dublin 15. I think it’ll be really nice.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ever since I was in my teens, the moving image was something that always drew me in. Photography was what I done in college and it’s something I’m passionate about and maybe I’ll stay with it. I don’t want to confine myself to one thing though but be open to lots of other stuff. So in 10 years time, I really have absolutely no clue. I’ll probably be in London, hopefully able to pay the mortgage!

Q: What are your interests and hobbies outside of photography?
Are box-set marathons a hobby? Cooking is a big thing for me, I have a library of cookbooks and make a great beef bourguignon. I love to travel. Every five years or so, myself and my partner aim to make massive 4-month trips. Last time was South America, next India. Have plans to head across Europe with Fred on a campervan. 

Q: You weren’t always a professional artist; can you tell us a little about your journey from full time 9-5’er to where you are today?
I did an OK leaving Cert, actually it was kind of crap. I wanted to do Communications in DCU but never got the points so I got my 7th CAO choice (that’s 3 from the bottom!), which was computer science in UL. I had to double check how far down exactly Limerick was from Donegal. It was good to me though, it allowed me to travel and live in places like Istanbul and Rome. I just didn’t want to wake up when I was 50 behind a desk working for a big company, and I could never see myself starting up my own IT company. So I went and did a full-time photography degree in IADT, working a 3-day week in my old company for the most of it, which was great. The company were really flexible and really good to me. I picked up a lot of really valuable things from working in a professional IT position – work ethics, deadlines, writing documents, communication skills etc. 

Q: In general, do you have any advice you could give to an artist following the same path as you?
Being an artist is hard and you definitely don’t get anything handed to you on a plate to you. You have to do all the digging, all the looking, phone calls and selling yourself; something I’m not very keen on or good at myself, but who is? But the best advise would be to follow what’s in your heart, it’s generally telling you the right thing. 

Q: Most of your work concentrates on portraits of older people. What draws you to taking photographs of this particular group?
I don’t think it’s something I’ll do forever, it’s something I got interested in while doing my thesis for my final year in college. Doing portraits was the last thing I thought I’d end up doing, and it’s all I do now. I was making portraits with a social element to them, e.g migrant workers, the male body that wasn’t the covers of Men’s Health magazine. Doing research for these, the older body would inevitably come up, and I made a note to do a project around this. I’m interested in how we adapt to what society thinks we should do. There are very few representations of older people used in advertising. Products are sold with young and beautiful bodies. There is a myth that is being sold to us, and something we are lapping up, that we can stay young forever. This has a huge impact on how society views our older population. I was brought up to respect older people, and I had huge respect for my own Grandparents, who have had a huge part to play in who I am today. We are losing that, and by doing projects like these, I hope in some small way it will make people think. If it changes the attitudes of a few, then it has worked. We are all going to grow old, and changing attitudes starts in schools, in homes and in projects like this. There is also a great sense of freedom in working with a lot of older people. They have so much life experience and juicy gossip, and they don’t really give a crap what you think of them. I love that.

Q: Has working with older people made you think a lot about getting older yourself?
It certainly draws attention to it. I’m 37 so I’ve a bit to go, but time does shift on quickly. I think it’s made me less self-conscious about what other people think, and that’s refreshing. In Japan, older people were celebrated (now also unfortunately changing). That’s the way our society should be. The thing to achieve I suppose is to have no regrets by the time I get there.

You can find more information about Garvan’s work on his website:

Would you have a few minutes to answer Garvan's Survey about growing older and Fashion?
click here ... 

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By Draíocht. Tags: Reviews & Interviews, Visual Arts, Garvan Gallagher,

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