September 20th,2019 was a date that was scratched into everybody’s diary in Cork to come out and celebrate Culture Night. Taking place in towns and cities across Ireland, Cork played its part in hosting Culture Night and putting Cork culture on the map.
Businesses and organisations across Cork hosted events and opened their doors to the public to show off the culture in Cork. Waterstones, situated on St. Patrick Street in the heart of the city, hosted readings in store from Running To Stand Still by poet Kimberly Reyes and the Banshee literary journal edited by Eimear Ryan. University Express had the chance to talk to Reyes to ask her why she thought Culture Night was so important: [It’s] “all about cultures mixing and to be invited to a Culture Night event just for being here for a month is the perfect example of how it is actually working. I have a book coming out and I get to read for culture night and not only suck up Irish culture but contribute to it which is really important to me.” During the reading, the audience got a taste of the work of Kimberly Reyes as she read poems Opening Lines, Beloved and The Body to name a few. These poems moved through the themes of loss and pop culture, both very relevant in our modern world, which shows her congruency with current issues. University Express also talked to Eimear Ryan, editor of Banshee about the success of Culture Night: “It was a great experience to be here in Waterstones with our contributors Marie Gethins, Rachel Andrews and Dee Collins, I thought they all read fantastically. I think Culture Night is great because it allows you dip in and out of several different art forms, in a way that’s what we’re trying to do with Banshee.”
After that, I walked to Comic Vault who were hosting an event at 7pm. A selection of free comic books were available as the crowd began to fill the shop. Comic Vault commented: “We host the Cork Comic Creators as well as selling comics. We sell a lot of Cork comics so it’s great to be part of Culture Night.” Three comic book artists, Ellie Wright, Eoin Coveney and Chris O’Halloran made up a panel who answered questioned from the audience on their individual resumes and on the creation of comic books. This allowed the audience to have the rare chance to talk to published artists in the comic book industry. University Express had the opportunity to speak to Ellie Wright about the importance of comic books in culture today: “I think they’re very important even in TV, for example last year Netflix had The Punisher, Jessica Jaynes, Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist so I feel like it’s gone to mainstream TV.”
Many coffee shops were taking part in the Culture Night celebrations this year. One coffee shop that was at the top of my list to visit was Fellini on Carey’s Lane. Taking inspiration from Italian film director Federico Fellini, it has been open twenty-eight years and is one of Cork’s oldest coffee shops. Decorated with soft pink lighting, the artwork of Cork artists Dermot Browne and Noel Lenihan hung on the walls. Seated on the tables were the sculptures of Luke Sisk, brought in especially for Culture Night. In its long history, art has become a part of the history and ethos of Fellini. A second generation of children are growing up with stories of good food and coffee at Fellini. Relaxing back into the seat, I understand why an art ethos runs through Fellini. As I look up at the art exhibition above my head the portraits above me gaze across the room creating a reassuring atmosphere.
As the blanket of night fell across the city, Coal Quay and North Main St lit up with fire and flames of Circus and Street Performance: Pitch’d Circus Arts Festival who performed dazzling tricks in front of a mesmerized crowd. It was a perfect way to end a day that had captured the city’s imagination and celebrated everything that is good about culture in Cork.