Lucan Festival 2011- developing a sense of community.

How quickly a year goes by Lucan Festival 2011 (19th – 25th September, 2011) has been and gone This year’s festival was the third since the festival was revived, and this year was certainly the biggest and best to date. Unfortunately the weather for Sunday’s events started off very poorly but it recovered as the day went on. Overall estimates of up to 4,000 people turn up in Lucan Village on Sunday 25th September to experience the Festival Family Day. To view the full programme for the week’s events click here

The Festival week was launched on Monday 19th September with the opening of the Art Exhibition (former Gunne offices) by Mayor Caitriona Jones. The exhibition sponsored by CBRE who provide its former offices to the festival rent free, showcasing the works of 16 local artists we for the entire week of the Festival.

During the week there were many events including Lucan Historical walks, two short excerpts of fun and frolicks courtesy of Lucan Dramatic Society of “15 Moll” and “Hamlet” like you have never seen him before. On Wednesday we had the Young at Heart” Tea Dance at the Spa Hotel.

Wednesday also had an evening of interesting debate at Finnstown House Hotel  ‘Lucan Forward to 2050’ How will Lucan exists as society in 2050? with Dermot O’Leary: a senior economist at Goodbody Stockbrokers and a native of Lucan, providing a local perspective and an insight into social economics.Dave O’Connor: a Lecturer in Transport and Urban Design at DIT School of Spatial Planning. Facing an uncertain future with reserves of fossil fuels depleting and the need to reduce our carbon emissions how we can adapt our planning and transport demands to reach those targets. Gavin Kostick:  is Literary Officer at Fishamble the new play company. Gavin works with new writers for theatre through script development, readings and a variety of courses. Gavin is also an award-winning playwright. He has written over a dozen plays which have been produced in Dublin, on tour around Ireland, the UK, New York, Philadelphia and Romania.

There was also an evening with local writer Sean Carabini at Lucan Library reading from his latest book, American Road, is a travel memoir about the iconic American road trip. Take a journey with Seán traversing the American Interstate from Las Vegas to New York City as Seán attempts to avoid being gored by buffalo in Yellowstone, accidentally dresses as a ranger at the Grand Canyon, and discovers what freedom really is in America.

One of the attractions with the greatest interest from the 2010 festival was The Cinemobile (100 seater mobile cinema) over 2 days we had screenings of Spy Kids 4, Harry Potter and the ‘Deathly Hallows 2’, ‘Super 8’and the feature film ‘The Guard’ staring Brendan Gleeson on Saturday night. But the real attraction was on Friday night Ladies Night” showing Bridesmaids with a cheese and wine reception at Superquinn café

Saturday morning we a very successful treasure hunt for the young explorers which presented both Kids and parents alike an opportunity to discover a little bit about Lucan history and its environment with treats for all the kids at the end. At the Church of Ireland parish centre a Historic Exhibition laying out Lucan’s history in over 150 exhibits including many photos and artefacts. What a better way to end the day with a Saturday Night Fever 70’s Disco in the Spa Hotel in aid of Aspen Counselling

The climax of the Festival was the Festival Family Day on Sunday, 25th September; great attention had gone in to presenting a day of events that would entertain the entire family. It also presented a real opportunity to develop a sense of pride and community spirit including many of the new residents from all corners of the world that now make up Lucan’s 50,000 residents.

We built the festival around two very popular events from the 2010 Festival Reptile Village Zoo,  and Conor Lambert’s Custard Pie Puppet Company – Punch and Judy show in an almost magical setting in the green area behind the Methodist Church.

The band scene in Lucan is really good and we bought in a custom mobile stage in the centre of the village showcasing a wide variety of musical tastes featuring local bands and others from further a field including The Riptide Movement (recently supported Bon Jovi), The Ghandis, Morgan La Fay, Adela and the Meanits, Half Shot, rap artist Prince4God, Sophie Coyle, and Lorcan James.

Further along the street we had face painters, some of the best street entertainers in the country and pony rides, bouncy castles. Street markets were a bit hit with the parents and provides local business to develop their products. My own personal favourite were the craft demonstrations, it wonderful to stand and watch there people as the create something right before your eyes.

With the support of CPLN Area Partnership we had a number of intercultural acts including Hip hop dancers Liffey Valley Homework Group, a traditional Nigerian folk dance group, traditional Polish dancers and singers and an amazing Italian singer – Rosaria. Nathalie Moyano Gonzálezare will be giving Flamenco workshops a unique opportunity for participants will find out that marking the rhythm with the foot and clapping along is a lot of fun. Of course there were traditional dancers with the Lee Byrne Dancers, and other local dance groups Dancity Ireland, and the local Lucan Comhaltas group entertained the crowds outside some of the local pubs. At the exhibition Centre Headspace’, had a mixed media exhibition and workshop which was a really high standard. The Garda Station also had an open day where young and old have an opportunity to get a view behind the scenes, sit on the Garda motorbike, or get to meet the horses. It provided me with some wonderful memories I meet some fantastic people, and a real sense of pride to be part of a wonderful event.

As secretary, and curator of Lucan Festival 2011, “I would like to thank all our patrons for their generous financial support and general good will, which has enabled us grow the festival this year. To make the festival a success you need a committee to get behind the plan and gave up so much of their free time. To all the artists, entertainers who over the week made it all seem so effortlessly. But most of all it would not be possible without those of you who came to join in the celebrations. Thank you all so much”. Tom Dowling

Enjoy 2 minutes video of Kathleen McCormick as she explains the art of basket making, and a slide show of images from the festival.

© Tom Dowling 2011

Photos courtesy of Rachel Fox Photography, Marketa Dowling, Maria Svecova, Niamh Hughes, Joe Houghton, Oxana Kiryashoff, Catherine Cunningham,

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