Plans for Presidential visit to Esker Arts, Offaly Independent

April 20, 2023
President Michael D. Higgins pictured with Offaly Minister Pippa Hackett, Offaly Independent

Preparations are underway for the official opening of the new Esker Arts Centre in Tullamore by President Michael D. Higgins on Tuesday, June 6 next at 12 noon.

This will be the first official visit to Tullamore by President Higgins since he opened the 87th National Ploughing Championships at Screggan in September 2018, having also performed the official opening on the same site the previous year.

Even before opening its doors to the public for the first time last weekend, the first two ticketed events scheduled to take place in the long-awaited arts centre were completely sold out. Tickets to a fundraising event for the new venue which took place on Friday night last, April 14, and was organised by Tullamore Lions Club, were completely sold out within 48 hours of being offered for sale.

The second ticketed event in Esker Arts, Tullamore Musical Society’s production of ‘Michael Collins – a Musical Drama’ which gets underway on Monday, May 1 next, were also snapped up within days of going on sale.

Artistic Director, Sean Walsh, told the Offaly Independent that the reaction from the public has been “overwhelmingly positive” and that there has been “a steady stream of visitors” into the new venue all week.

He said the trio of fundraising events organised by the local Lions Club, consisting of a Gala Concert featuring the Tullamore Academy Chamber Choir, TSS Ladies Choir and the Dublin Welsh Male Voice Choir, an art auction and a monster raffle was “a hugely positive start” for the venue on Friday night last.

The inaugural event was followed up by a ‘soft opening’ on Saturday afternoon which again attracted a capacity attendance for the launch of the ‘Breaking Ground’ art exhibition, showcasing a diverse range of works by over 40 artists which form part of the Arts Council Collection.

‘Breaking Ground’ runs until May 28 and is free to attend, and Sean Walsh says it has been “very well received” by members of the public so far. “The feedback we are getting about the centre is very positive and I think people are genuinely delighted to see the doors open” he said, adding that there are many more exciting events in the pipeline over the coming months.

Among the many highlights on the cards for the Esker Arts Centre is the establishment of a regular Film Club; a series of events during the month of May to mark the annual Age & Opportunity Bealtaine Festival and concerts by the renowned Máirtin O’Connor band and celebrated folk singer and musician, Andy Irvine, which also take place next month.

At the fundraising Gala Concert on Friday night last, Sean Walsh promised “something for everybody” in the highly-anticipated new centre, and paid tribute to the many people who had worked behind the scenes for almost two decades to turn the dream of an arts centre for Tullamore into a reality.

"There are so many people to thank… so many people who have played a part in the backstory of this centre… every involvement and every effort of all of these were pieces of the jigsaw that led to this building we are in tonight,” he said.


Source: Offaly Independent, published  by Geraldine Grennan, Thu 20 Apr 2023, 2:27 PM