Exhibition on the Reformation in the Long Room, Trinity College Dublin

‘Power and Belief: The Reformation at 500’ is on display from 1-28 February in the Long Room, Trinity College Dublin.

The exhibition includes Martin Luther’s translation of the Old Testament (1523) and William Bedell’s work ‘Leabhuir na Seintiomna …’ (1685), the first translation into Irish of the Old Testament, as well as “a rare volume from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s confiscated library”.





National Heritage Week 20th-28th August – Medieval and Renaissance events around Ireland

National Heritage Week is upon us once again and there’s a wide range of Medieval and Renaissance events taking place around Ireland. We’ve cherry-picked just a few of these fabulous historical, cultural, and artistic events which aim to build awareness and education about Ireland’s heritage. Please see the National Heritage Week website for details on these and the many other events taking place around the country.


On August 25th, the Pearse Museum throws open its doors for an evening of dramatic readings from some of Patrick Pearse’s favourite Shakespeare plays. And in case you have missed it, this will be a great opportunity to view the museum’s Pearse and Shakespeare exhibition.


St. Enda’s – Pearse Musuem, Dublin

The Royal Irish Academy hosts the “Book of Fenagh 500th anniversary exhibition” from August 22nd-26th. Showcasing Irish manuscripts, the exhibit will include the famous Annals of the Four Masters which chronicle Irish history. The RIA will also host a lunchtime lecture entitled “From medieval text to mobile: folk medicine in Irish tradition” on the 24th.

On the 21st, the National Print Museum hosts Printfest where kids can get a chance to be apprentices for the day. Additionally, the Museum’s daily interactive guided tours are free of charge for Heritage Week.

National Print Musuem Dublin - Facebook page

National Print Museum (Photo credit: National Print Museum’s Facebook page)

On the 27th, Archaeofest in Merrion Square Park promises even more fun for the whole family with historical re-enactments and archaeological digs, and make sure to look out for the Bouncy Dolmen!

On the 24th, the National Library of Ireland offers what promises to be a fascinating peak behind the scenes with a talk on conserving manuscripts from the sixteenth century to modern day books.

national library ireland

The National Library of Ireland – Dublin

The Royal College of Surgeons Ireland throws open its doors for special tours that look back over 350 years of medical history (booking required.)

If castles and Medieval history are your thing, then there’s a smorgasbord of choice in Dublin. On the 20th, 22nd, 24th, 26th, and 27th, the Friends of Medieval Dublin will hold free walking tours that explore the city in the Middle Ages. Throughout the week, there are tours of Rathfarnham Castle where you can see 16th century gun loops, 17th century panelling, 18th century ceilings and hear the story of Philip Wharton, the infamous Rathfarnham Rake! At Swords Castle on Saturday 27th, a range of talks on its history culminates in a tour. You can’t miss either the tour of Archbold’s Castle, a late Medieval tower house located in Dalkey, on August 27th and 28th. Christ Church Cathedral has a range of events on offer, but Medieval and Renaissance enthusiasts may be interested in its “1016-2016 walking tour” on August 22nd, led by historian Mike Neill.

Archbold's Castle Dublin - Wikimedia Commons.jpg

Archbold’s Castle in Dublin (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


Kildare town will host a Medieval Festival on Sunday 21st August. This event promises fun for the whole family – events include Medieval games and activities, puppet shows, music, a food & craft fair, falconry, street theatre, walking tours and much more. Visitors are most welcome to attend in costume!

Kildare Med Fest 2016

Castledermot Community Library will host a talk entitled “1348 – A medieval apocalypse” on the 26th August. Focusing on the lives of eight people, from earls to outlaws, the talk will take you on a journey through the chaotic world of 14th century Ireland.

On 24th August, journey to Athy for a walking tour of the Medieval town, departing from the Athy Heritage Centre. The Centre is also holding a Medieval festival evening on Friday 19th with the theme of “Introducing the Fitzgeralds”.


Journey to the picturesque village of Inistioge, on the river Nore in Co. Kilkenny, for a guided walk on Sunday 28th exploring its history as a walled town in the medieval and early modern period, c.900-1700. While there are also a range of tours and talks on in Kilkenny city, Paulstown and Castlecomer during Heritage Week.

Inistoge.ie website

Inistoge in Co. Kilkenny  (Photo credit: inistoge.ie)


Drogheda Museum will hold a family fun day on the 28th with free guided tours, child friendly re-enactments of an archaeological dig, folklore storytelling for children, firing of the famous Millmount Cannons, music, and battle re-enactments.

A fine offer comes from the Old Mellifont Abbey in Tullyallen, Co. Louth – it invites all epicureans and Medieval enthusiasts to come along to “Taste Medieval Ale and Mead” on the afternoon of 28th August.


Wexford will hold a Walled Town Medieval Day on the 27th. Some of the delights on offer include falconry displays, children’s digging pits, Viking shield making, medieval pottery making, a medieval archaeology exhibition, and guided walking tours of town wall.


On 23rd August you can enjoy a guided tour and animated talk on the history of St Peter’s Church, on North Main St., including a look at how the city has grown and changed around Cork’s oldest church which dates back to 1270.

St Peter's Cork city

St. Peter’s on North Main Street, Cork city

On the 21st and 28th, Baltimore Castle (known also as Dún na Séad castle) will host a talk on Baltimore piracy from the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century. In the surroundings of this Norman Castle, which housed the O’Donnell clan for several centuries, visitors will learn about the castle history and an infamous historical event – the Sack of Baltimore by Algerian pirates in 1631.

Baltimore Castle

Baltimore Castle, Co. Cork   (Photo credit: baltimorecastle.ie)

Youghal Medieval Festival will take place on 21st August. This is the tenth year the event has been held and it takes place in St.Mary’s College Gardens. These Medieval gardens are within the 13th century town walls and showcase Youghal’s unique history and heritage. This year’s festival will feature Medieval battle re-enactments, Medieval cookery displays, archery, and blacksmith displays. The kids’ kingdom will feature traditional Arts and Crafts making (including ‘make your own shield’!) and much more.


On the afternoon of Friday 26th, the Schoolhouse at Muckross Traditional Farms will host a special talk on book and manuscript preservation with Master Binder, Paul Curtis.

While in Killarney, you can catch one of the tours of the impressive Ross Castle, overlooking Killarney lakes, on Sunday 28th August. Built by the O’Donoghues in the fifteenth century, Ross Castle was the last castle to surrender to Oliver Cromwell’s roundheads in the mid-seventeenth century.

Ross Castle Killarney

Ross Castle  (Photo credit: Killarney National Park website)

In Tralee, visit the Kerry County Museum for a guided walking tour to discover the vanished medieval town. Free entry to the Medieval Experience before or after the walking tour is also part of this Heritage Week event. Visiting the Medieval Experience is also free on Sunday 28th.


Throughout Heritage week, you can tour the Hall of the Red Earl, a fascinating 13th century building on Druid Lane and the oldest archaeological site to be excavated in the heart of Galway city. Guided walks on Galway’s Medieval Treasures will held on the 23rd and 25th, and they depart from the Hall of the Red Earl.

Hall of Red Earl

Hall of the Red Earl, Galway

On 25th August, the Woodford Heritage Centre will host a talk entitled “The Burkes of Clanrickard in Tudor Times”, focusing on some famous battles and lives of Irish earls in the sixteenth century.

The Loughrea Medieval Festival, from 26-28th August, has something for everyone – from archery displays to medieval heritage talks, medieval combat displays to medieval cookery demonstrations, and the fantastic Loughrea 780 Parade.

Loughrea Medieval Festival

On 27th August, the Battle of Aughrim Visitor Centre hosts “Talk about & walk about the Battle of Aughrim”, a lecture on this famous battle between the Jacobites and the forces of William III in July 1691.


On Sunday 28th, Donegal Castle will host a Medieval Fun Day for all the family. Situated on the river Eske, the castle was built by the O’Donnell chieftain in the 15th century, and has extensive 17th century additions.

Donegal Castle.jpg

Donegal Castle  (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


In Clonmel, Finbar Dwyer author and creator of Irish History Podcasts will talk on “Prostitution in Medieval Ireland”. This talk, on 24th August, will present an intriguing account of a precarious life on the fringes of medieval society.


On Saturday 20th the Square in Newcastle West will come alive as reenactors from Bran Dubh Living History Group don full medieval costume to present a display of weaponry and medical tools at the castle.

For details on these and other events taking place during Heritage Week 2016, see the National Heritage Week website.

On social media see: @HeritageWeek  and  #HeritageWeek

Report: ‘Shakespeare Lives Through Sir Kenneth Branagh on Stage and Screen’ – exhibition and Q&A

Guest post by Cynthia Martin.

As part of the Shakespeare 400 celebrations in Belfast, the Queen’s Film Theatre is honouring Sir Kenneth Branagh’s work with an exhibition which chronicles his prolific career as both Shakespearean actor and director.  The display features an array of movie stills, photographs, movie posters, promotional postcards, and theatre programmes from Branagh’s early beginnings to today (complements of the Branagh Collection, located in the Special Collections & Archives of Queen’s University Belfast). An eclectic collage of rare artefacts, this exhibition will tour the island, as Ireland celebrates Branagh’s contribution to Shakespeare appreciation.

The exhibition begins with a large triptych, designed to detail Branagh’s very distinctive and rich work in Shakespeare adaptation throughout the past three decades. Informative yet concise, this poster presents visitors with an organised contextualization of the coming attractions for optimal experience and engagement.

Branagh Hamlet

Branagh’s Hamlet (1996)

The production stills of Branagh’s Hamlet and Henry V (as well as a black-and-white offstage photograph from the set of Much Ado About Nothing) especially capture the careful thought and conscientiousness behind every scene Branagh has directed. As film is a medium which perpetually moves forward, a production still offers a visual pause to the viewer, affording her/him the opportunity to reflect on all the intricate details of a split second in the performance. The still of Branagh as he is about to begin Hamlet’s ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy especially conjures the dichotomous emotional conflict between meditative deliberation and fierce urgency.

Also included in this exhibition are theatre programmes from Branagh’s earlier career with the Royal Shakespeare Company (Henry V by the RSC at Barbican Theatre in 1984 and Hamlet by the RSC at Stratford in 1993). A framed theatre poster from Branagh’s performance as Richard III in 2002 additionally joins the wall amongst production stills and film posters. Aiming to focus also on Branagh’s theatre legacy, these artefacts inspire viewers to contemplate the media translation of Shakespeare from page to stage to screen, and to admire Branagh’s seemingly effortless flexibility between film and theatre productions.

Branagh Much Ado

Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

However, it is perhaps his presence on Time’s front page in 1989 which best demonstrates the extent to which Branagh has contributed to the integration of Shakespeare into modern cinematic culture. Often praised for the accessibility of his Shakespeare productions to audiences, Branagh juggles both high and pop art cultures with impressive dexterity. As Branagh was nominated for two Oscars for his Henry V (Best Actor and Best Director), this magazine cover brings the viewer back to the time when this Belfastite first achieved global stardom.

The launch of the Branagh exhibition on the 7th of May of this year in conjunction with the Irish Renaissance Seminar held at Queen’s University, Belfast, included a lovely reception with wine and hors d’oeuvres. A gracious introduction by Professor Mark Thornton Burnett of Queen’s University, Belfast truly highlighted Branagh’s phenomenal contribution to Shakespeare film, theatre, and adaptation studies. I would recommend this exhibition to anyone with a deep interest in Sir Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare adaptations, and am pleased to inform fans that these artefacts will be accessible to various regions across Ireland this year.

In conjunction with this exhibition, the QFT also arranged a Q&A session with Sir Kenneth Branagh himself for the 27th of May. Led by Adrian Wooton, CEO of Film London and the British Film Commission, this event served as a special introduction to a showing of Branagh’s 1989 Henry V, an introduction which was also transmitted live to over 70 cinemas across the UK.

Wooton mainly covered Branagh’s impressive and action-packed career, from Henry V (1989), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996), Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000), and As You Like It (2006), to very recent, non-Shakespearean work, such as Thor (2011) and Cinderella (2015). Given that Branagh had mentioned that his interest in Shakespeare began with a passion for his native Irish language, it was a shame that Wooton did not include Branagh’s The Magical Flute (2006) in this discussion, as the obvious connections amongst poetic language, Shakespeare, and music would have naturally led to an engaging dialogue on the profound, yet simple magic of sound.

Branagh As-you-like-it - finale

Branagh’s As You Like It (2006) – finale scene

Although Wooton’s questions themselves were quite predictable and unoriginal (indeed, one got the sense that Branagh had answered these same questions a million times before), one could not object to the sheer delight of simply being in Branagh’s charming and enchanting presence. Moreover, a pre-selected batch of Twitter questions from fans definitely added a more personal and unique element to the discussion. One Twitter user who had a particularly keen sense of humour asked if, from a director’s perspective, Branagh found himself difficult to direct, to which the audience and Branagh responded with authentic, unbridled chuckles. Overall, Branagh’s personal introduction to his Henry V, the film which catapulted his career as Shakespearean actor and director in his home-town, contributed the perfect piece to the Shakespeare 400 celebrations.

Guest post: Cynthia May Martin is a PhD student in English Literature at Queen’s University, Belfast.


The “Shakespeare Lives Through Sir Kenneth Branagh on Stage and Screen” exhibition will tour to the following venues and more locations will be announced in due course:

Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast: 26 April-31 May

  • Irish Film Institute, Dublin: 02-30 June
  • LexIcon Dun Laoghaire: 1 July – 13 August
  • NUI Galway: 15-26 August
  • Linen Hall Library, Belfast: 03-15 October
  • NUI Maynooth: 17-25 October
  • Royal Irish Academy, Dublin: 26 October-02 December

For further details, see the British Council webpage on “Shakespeare Lives Through Sir Kenneth Branagh”.

Several of Branagh’s Shakespeare films will be screened at the IFI, Dublin, this June – see the “Shakespeare Lives on Film” tour.

For information on the British Council’s “Shakespeare Lives Across the Island of Ireland: Conversations and Celebrations” programme see the British Council – Ireland ‘Shakespeare Lives’ webpage.



Public lecture: “From William Shakespeare to David Cameron: A Cultural History of the Pig” at University of Ulster

“From William Shakespeare to David Cameron: A Cultural History of the Pig” by Dr Kevin De Ornellas. 

Wednesday 27 April, 2016  –  2pm to 3.30pm

University of Ulster, Coleraine Campus, Room U213.

A public lecture delivered as part of the British Council’s ‘Shakespeare Lives’ programme.


Dr De Ornellas is a known authority on Renaissance and Modern Drama and is an internationally recognised scholar of the role of animals in literature. This seminar will celebrate his recent appointment to the Management Committee of the Riverside Theatre, the glowing reviews of his book, The Horse in Early Modern England (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013), and will mark the start of his new project: a cultural history of the pig.

The session will take place almost 400 years to the day that Shakespeare was interred. This will be commemorated by the following events. There will be a brief talk by Frank Reynolds of the Ulster University Library: he will show a small sample of the rich variety of early printed books in the Library and will reflect on the impact of the Library’s ongoing “Shakespeare” exhibition. Student Michael Way will read a short piece about the perennial impact of Shakespeare on our language. And, marking the sad death of Sir Arnold Wesker this month, three students – Brendán Brennan, John Kavanagh and Megan Shaw – will read short extracts from Wesker’s irreverent, anti-Shakespeare play, Shylock. The session will be chaired by Dr Frank Ferguson. All are welcome.

For further information, contact Dr De Ornellas at UU.

Programme: Shakespeare Lives, 2016


The full programme of events marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death is now available for download: Shakespeare Lives Across the Island – Conversations and Celebrations 2016.

This fantastic line-up, happening all across Ireland, is in partnership with the British Council, and involves universities, museums, libraries and theatres on both sides of the border.

Here’s a preview of just some of the upcoming events:


Irish Renaissance Seminar, QUB: Shakespeare Lives across the Island

on Saturday 7th May, 12pm- 7pm, in the Old Staff Common room, QUB


“Shakespeare: Here and Elsewhere” workshop, dlr Lexicon

a workshop on Shakespeare in film and modern popular culture at dlr Lexicon, Dun Laoighaire, 14th May 


Public talks: UCD – Abbey Theatre Shakespeare Lectures 2016

11th May, 7pm, Pearse Museum:  Prof. Andrew Murphy (University of St Andrews),‘Shakespeare and Irish Radicalism: The Road to 1916’

12th May, 5pm, Abbey Theatre (Peacock):  Prof. Gordon McMullan (King’s College, London), ‘Remembering and Forgetting Shakespeare in 1916’

27th May, 4pm, Abbey Theatre (Peacock): Dr Farah Karim-Cooper (Shakespeare’s Globe), ‘Gesture on the Shakespearean Stage’

9th June, National Library, 7pm: Prof. Margaret Kelleher (UCD) and Prof. Danielle Clarke (UCD): ‘An “Irish Mode”? The Literary Writings and Legacy of Thomas MacDonagh. A conversation, with selected readings from MacDonagh’s works, performed by the UCD Ad Astra Drama Scholars


Symposium: Shakespeare 400 Ireland, NUIM, 21-22 Oct 2016

with a keynote lecture by Professor Willy Maley (University of Glasgow) ‘”They are rising, they are rising”: Shakespeare and 1916’, and papers by Professor Mark Burnett (Queens University Belfast), Dr Jane Grogan (UCD) and Professor Patrick Lonergan (NUI Galway)


More events can be found here.


Check back for more details soon, including an exhibition on Sir Kenneth Branagh at Queen’s University Belfast, a Shakespeare Day at Trinity College Dublin, and a performance of Pericles, Prince of Tyre in association with University College, Cork.

You can also follow what’s happening on Twitter @ShakesinIreland and using the hashtag #ShaxIRL400. Get in touch and let us know what you think!

Report: Revisiting Corcadorca’s Merchant of Venice 2005

Revisiting Corcadorca’s Merchant of Venice 2005 was a site-specific exhibition which aimed to “celebrate and remember” the 2005 production of The Merchant of Venice, part of the programme for Cork’s tenure as European Capital of Culture. Under the auspices of the DUETS-funded “Creation and Reception” project, led by Dr. Anne Etienne (UCC), the exhibition ran from the 13th to the 20th of July, and included a round table event at University College Cork on the 18th of July.

It is easy to overlook the significance of the 2005 The Merchant of Venice. The original event took place at several different venues around the city. The play’s street scenes took place on the pavements of Cork, the courthouse scene in Cork’s courthouse, and a disused cooperage owned by University College Cork served as Shylock’s warehouse, and also served as the location of the exhibition. The project coincided with the ten year anniversary of the original production, but also explored more broadly the role of site-specific theatre and cultural memory. The exhibition focused on sparking memories rather than recounting the event. For those not fortunate enough to have witnessed what was undoubtedly a spectacular theatrical undertaking, the exhibition offered a window into the first large-scale site-specific production in Ireland, and invited the viewer to think about site-specific theatre and its potential uses.

Within the vast hangar of the cooperage, small televisions played various scenes from the play on a loop. This evocative and thought-provoking audio visual portion was curated by Corcadorca director, and director of the original production, Pat Kiernan, in collaboration with film-maker Nicholas O’Riordan. The brief screenings were not accompanied by any explanatory material, which can appear quite disconcerting initially, until one appreciates that this exhibition does not attempt to recreate the original event but to provoke and probe memory.

Revisiting Corcadorca MofV - exhibit 1

A small room in the corner of the vast warehouse held the second portion of the exhibition, a photographic exhibit of still images of the play taken by Mike MacSweeney. The stills were suspended from the ceiling on clear fish wire, appearing almost to float in mid-air. The images were accentuated by an audio recording of the scene staged in that very corner of the warehouse; Shylock’s voice echoed around the suspended images. A combination of audio, visual, and audio-visual exhibits awaken the senses to stimulate both memory and imagination.

Revisiting Corcadorca MofV - exhibit 2

The third and final of phase of the project was a roundtable discussion with the director and actors of the original production, held in University College Cork on July 18th. The event certainly fulfilled its premise to “celebrate and remember” what was a seminal moment in contemporary Irish theatre. The actors discussed their experiences in performing in multiple locations, and how the production overcame practical issues such as funding and health and safety laws. The roundtable provided opportunity for reflection on Corcadorca’s monumental achievement, but also explored the status-quo of Irish theatre in the present decade.

The exhibition and corresponding round-table discussion offer a glimpse of a spectacular production of The Merchant of Venice and invited one to think about how Shakespeare’s plays can be re-imagined within a contemporary Irish context.  The project justly commemorates Corcadorca’s outstanding achievement, but it is not self-congratulatory or sentimental. Rather this series of events was forward-thinking, both for Shakespearean productions and Irish theatre in general. The stimulating exhibits and round-table discussion recalled the 2005 event but also examined the wealth of possibility in Irish theatre today. The recent DruidShakespeare production of Shakespeare’s history plays serves to illustrate the continuity of ambitious renderings of Shakespeare’s dramas in Ireland.

“Creation and Reception: Corcadorca’s Live Archive” – The Merchant of Venice (2005) – exhibition and roundtable

The collaborative project “Creation and Reception: Corcadorca’s Live Archive” funded by UCC’s DUETS / College of Arts and Celtic Studies and Social Sciences Creative Practice Support Fund and led by Dr. Anne Etienne (School of English, UCC) and Corcadorca Theatre Company, has generated a series of events based around Corcadorca’s production of The Merchant of Venice. The emblematic run was part of the ambitious Relocation project, spearheaded by Corcadorca, which formed part of the programme of the Cork European Capital of Culture in 2005.

Dr. Anne Etienne and Corcadorca welcome feedback from the audiences of The Merchant of Venice in 2005 to construct a live archive of the theatre company. If you attended the performances, please contact them at merchantofvenice2005@gmail.com and come to the two events:

Revisiting The Merchant of Venice 2005, a site-specific exhibition, opens on Wednesday July 15th at the Old Distillery (North Mall, Cork city). The exhibition runs for two weeks and features the work of photographer Mike MacSweeney during the run of The Merchant of Venice, and a video installation curated by Pat Kiernan and Nicholas O’Riordan. Entry is free. Opening hours: 11am-4pm. All welcome.

Remembering The Merchant of Venice 2005, a roundtable discussion with the creative team, takes place on Saturday July 18th, 10.45am-4pm, in University College Cork, O’Rahilly Building, room G27. The event, which aims to reunite members of the creative team, cast, collaborators and audience from The Merchant of Venice, will be recorded and form the start of a new live archive about Corcadorca’s work. Guest panellists include Pat Kiernan (Director), Roma Patel (Set Designer), Mel Mercier (Composer), Eileen Walsh (Portia), Ryszard Radwanski (Tubal), Kieran Ahern (Antonio), Mary McCarthy (Director, The National Sculpture Factory) and Liz Meaney (Arts Director Performing and Local Arts, The Arts Council). We particularly want to hear what our audience has to say, so if you saw this spectacular production in 2005 and would be interested in attending the roundtable, please get in touch. Entry is free, but booking is essential. Please contact Anne and Fin at merchantofvenice2005@gmail.com to reserve your place.

For further info see: https://merchantofvenicecork2005.wordpress.com