Press & media

Midsummer's events in Offaly feature lively theatre trail on the bog

June 28, 2024
Elderly gentleman playing tin whistle in nature
Sean Ryan of Leap Castle performing at the bog events

Last Saturday saw the Lough Boora Sculpture Park come alive with the rollout of several events, taking place in the temperate Midsummer's June weather.

The events were part of Offaly County Council’s Arts Office programme, Art in the Landscape: Festival of Change, and were facilitated with the support of delivery partners Esker Arts and Bord na Móna.

The day commenced with Soil Portraits led by Dr. Eileen Hutton, artist and lecturer at The Burren College of Art. On this guided walk and talk, visual artist Eileen Hutton discussed the temporary installation of soil chromatography ‘trail markers’ located along sections of the Sculpture Trail in Lough Boora. 

Based on scientific methodology, soil chromatography is an alternative photography process that creates a ‘soil portrait’ on light sensitive filter paper.

It can be used to assess the general health of soil, including soil structure, biological diversity, organic matter content, humus, and minerals available for plants. The workshops offered an immersive way to approach the unique landscape of Lough Boora.

'Lá na Móna,' was a curated theatrical experience by Rita Duffy and Nuala Hayes, a performer and storyteller, who offered a whimsical journey through Lough Boora Sculpture Park, with much diversion, entertainment, and inspiration for participants.

This surreal and multisensory adventure in the rejuvenated natural setting featured surprise guests including renowned whistle player Séan Ryan, storyteller Michael Creagh and Druid/Seanchai Eimear Burke. Séan Craven and Seamus Barnes brought the past to life with their recounting of the working lives of Bord na Móna workers, whilst actors from local drama group TADS brought fictional characters, inspired by the surroundings to life, to the delight of the audience present.

National treasure in theatre and storytelling circles, Nuala Hayes riveted the crowd with her interpretation of a character based on Marina Carr’s ‘Catwoman’ before artist Rita Duffy led the group through the guided experience which was peppered with music provided by Eoin and Muireann Carton.

The performance featured Nuala Hayes, Rita Duffy, Séan Craven, Seamus Barron, Frank O’ Brien, Laura Molloy, Ciara Kinnarney, Monica Daly, Ursula Harte, Fionnuala Corrigan, Séan Ryan, Eimear Burke, Eoin Carton and Muireann Carton.

The events were part of a larger programme Art in Landscape: Festival of Change a collaboration between Offaly County Council, Mayo County Council, and Visual Artists Ireland. The programme was supported by the Arts Council's Invitation to Collaboration Scheme.

The festival presented a diverse and stimulating agenda of activities and gatherings, delving into the influence that art, both tangible and intangible, could exert on communities and locations, encompassing social, economic, and cultural dimensions.

The festival was connected to two distinct sites across the counties: the Tir Saile Sculpture Trail in Mayo and the Lough Boora Sculpture Park in Offaly.

In Offaly, the festival commenced at Tullamore's Esker Arts on the morning of Friday, 5th April and Saturday 6th April but unfortunately, Storm Kathleen led to the postponement of all outdoor events, which were rescheduled for 22nd June.

Originally published by Offaly Live