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From archaeological excavations to Northside soul bands, it’s a varied night to kick off the weekend. Here’s a few I think are worth a look.

This Friday ,September 24, is Culture Night in Dublin. What’s that? A chance for Dubliners to switch off the telly (Ryan Tubridy, no thanks.), hit the streets and enjoy what the capital has to offer. Here’s my pick of what to do. For the most part, this is my own plan of action, so you know it’s a good one.

First of all, for the early birds: The Abbey are giving away thirty free tickets to the Plough and the Stars. I’m excited about the arrival of The Silver Tassie in Dublin soon, by far my favourite O’ Casey play, but The Plough and the Stars is perhaps ‘the’ play of what is often labelled O’ Casey’s Dublin trilogy. First come, first served Friday morning from 10.30am. You have to be there yourself at the box office, so set the alarm all you unemployed Come Here To Me readers.

Fans of O’ Casey should note that this isn’t the only chance you’ll have to take in some of his work on the night. Up on the Sean O’ Casey Bridge, at 5.30, 6.30 and 7.30, pieces from Shadow Of A Gunman and The Plough and the Stars will be performed. At the same times, the James Joyce and Samuel Beckett bridges will come to life with similar tributes to their namesakes, though you won’t catch me at either.

That great Dublin historian, Pat Liddy, is also lending his services to the night. Merrion Square and its Writers promises to be an excellent walking tour, kicking off from the Georgian House Museum, 29 Fitzwilliam Street Lower. Bring an umbrella, you never know.

Smithfield has plenty on offer on the night. The Jameson Distillery for example are offering free guided tours of the Distillery, which includes a free drink(!!!!!). First come first served over there. I imagine many will come, and many will be served. A fine start to the night perhaps. Space 54 and the Light House Cinema are both involved too on the night. The Complex play host to DIG, an exhibition of drawings and photographs from the Smithfield archaeological excavations.

In several cases the drawings record what was found under the actual gallery where the exhibition is displayed.

DIG opens tomorrow night, with Dr Ruth Johnson, Dublin City Archaeologist on hand to do the honours, but on Friday it remains open until 10pm, with the night that is in it.

A short walk away, at St. Mary’s Abbey, an exhibition titled ‘Vintage Irish Bookcovers’ is taking place from 6 to 9 pm. I’ve been known to lose lunch time to Niall McCormack’s Vintage Irish Bookcovers Blog, where everyone from Peadar O’ Donnell to Pádraic Ó Conaire features.

Free tours of Christ Church are on offer on the night, a must do for anyone who has been putting it off or writing it off as ‘too touristy’. Right next to it, by the site where Handel’s Messiah was first performed, The Contemporary Music Centre will host a night of music, “reflecting the very latest trends in contemporary music and sound art”. Handel’d love it.

In the belly of the beast, or Friday night Temple Bar, there are some more hidden gems. The Quakers Meeting House, where “Quakers have met in silence in Temple Bar for over 300 years”, opens its doors to the public and a one hour play titled ‘On Human Folly’ will be performed at 8pm. Filmbase are running a night of free activities for people like me who have no clue whatsoever how to edit or film. Exchange Dublin, The Gutter Bookshop and others down in the sometimes overlooked ‘Old City’ part of Temple Bar are also participating.

By this stage, you’re exhausted. You’ve knocked out one or two of the events above and you want to relax. Well, in Meeting House Square will find Dublin classic The Commitments being screened at 10.15pm. A nice way to bring it all to an end, even if we’ve all seen it a dozen times and own the VHS. One more viewing might convince me to buy the DVD.

See you on the streets.

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Writing a piece on the modern disappearance of Liberty Lane, got me thinking about other streets and alleys in Dublin that have since changed beyond recognition.

For hundreds of years, it was possible for Dubliners to cross from College Green to Fleet Street via Turnstile Lane and Alley.

The map below, kindly reproduced with Pat Liddy’s permission, shows in the bottom left side how this was possible.

Temple Bar, 1760s. 'Temple Bar - Dublin. An Illustrated History', Pat Liddy, (Dublin, 1992), p. 32

In the 1780s, Turnstile Lane was widened considerably and renamed Fosters Place after John Foster (1740 – 1828), the last speaker of the Irish House of Commons. Turnstile Alley was renamed Parliament Row c. 1775. A narrow alleyway still linked the two but this was finally closed in 1928 due to the construction of the Bank Armoury.

Parliament Row today. Nothing more than a Car Park entrance and a bottle bank.

The Irishman’s Diary in The Irish Times on May 30, 1928 noted that “the closing of the passage at the ‘back of the bank’ … is causing much inconvenience to the many busy people who found it a short cut”.

Another view of the modern Parliament Row.

The modern map of Temple Bar below illustrates just how much has changed not least the blocking off of Turnstile Lane and Alley.  The cobbled Fosters Place is now most familiar to Dubliners for its Starbucks, taxi rank and new Wax Museum while Parliament Row has nothing much to boast for except a Car Park entrance and bottle bank.

Temple Bar, 1990s. 'Temple Bar - Dublin. An Illustrated History', Pat Liddy, (Dublin, 1992), p. 67

Fosters Place today. The road that swings right used to once lead to Fleet Street.


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Click to visit official website.

On April 13th 1742, Handel’s Messiah, one of the most famous musical pieces in the world, was first performed on Fishamble Street in Temple Bar. We will commemorate this with a fun and uplifting outdoor event Messiah on the Street, as well as a range of highlights including an extra special performance of A Global Hallelujah by three national schools in Dublin. We are also very excited to be able to expand this year’s programme to include traditional Irish music; as well as offering dance workshops and an outdoor Movie on the Square. .

Some highlights:

10am: Handel & Dublin in 1742 – Talk By Professor Barra Boydell

What did Handel encounter when he visited Dublin?
Professor Barra Boydell, music historian and expert presents a fascinating talk about the life, times and music of Handel in 18th century Dublin.

Venue: The New Theatre, 43 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Tickets: FREE – No booking required just come along.

11am: Let’s Walk & Talk: Handel’s Dublin—Then & Now

Historical walking tour with Pat Liddy.

A walk around some of the Dublin streets that still echo with the sounds of George Friderich Handel’s visit in 1742/3 and finishing in Fishamble Street to hear the annual performance of excerpts from his Messiah.

Meeting Point: Wolfe Tone Park, Mary Street, Dublin 1 (beside Jervis Shopping Centre)
Tickets: FREE – No Booking required, just come along!

The full programme of events can be viewed

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