Cruthú Arts Festival celebrated its third year this July, with its biggest range of events and exhibitions yet. Cruthú, which ran this year from 28th-31st July, is Longford’s newest multidisciplinary arts festival. It has a strong focus on celebrating the vibrant arts community which exists in the midlands, as well as striving to make Longford a more colourful and cultural place for its residents and visitors.
“This year was definitely the most ambitious” admitted Cruthú spokesperson Dearbháil Clarke. “We had some really big music acts like Jerry Fish and Mick Flannery, and we had a hugely expanded range of exhibitors and street artists on board. I’m honestly amazed that it all managed to run as smoothly as it did!”
The most popular prevailing aspect of Cruthú has been its street art, which is carried out by professional visual artists every year. “Last year we had one big mural on the back of the Market Square building by James Quinn (CERN), as well as a street art cube on the Market Square itself. This year, however, the programme was massively expanded, and our artists were spread out all over the town” explained Dearbháil.
There was a total of six murals completed over this year’s festival, by the following artists:
Katharina Rupit (KINMX)
Blue-haired female mural on Ballymahon Street, between Wards Pharmacy and Louis G. Herterich Butchers.
Emma Blake (ESTR)
Lighthouse keeper mural on Geraldine Terrace.
James Quinn (CERN)
Irish barn owl mural on the back of the Longford Courthouse (accessible through the Main St. alleyway beside the new Fabiani outlet).
‘Beat Bird’ mural on the side of John Brownes Bar.
Pawel Iljin (iljin)
Woman & cow mural on the side of John Brownes Bar.
‘Still Time To Change The Road You’re On’ mural on Harbour Row.
“I have no idea what’s planned for Cruthú 2017’s street art, but it had better be brilliant” laughed Dearbháil. “I’d like to see the whole town covered!”
Cruthú’s second continuing tradition has been to hold a countrywide open call for artists to exhibit their work in vacant retail spaces around Longford town. This year’s open call received an enthusiastic response: artists had to be doubled and tripled up in venues to accommodate all of the art. Exhibitions ranged from photography to painting, graphic design, 3D work, video installations, origami and animation.
“I think my unexpected highlight was the 1916 commemorative installation by TY students from Mean ScoilMhuire – the whole space was made incredibly atmospheric, and the amount of detail involved was stunning. You could tell that the students and teachers alike really put their hearts and minds into it. I’m delighted to see that level of dedication to the arts in our schools.” Dearbháil enthused.
“As well as work by individual acclaimed artists, we had work by different local art groups such as Reflections and Granard Art Group, which was lovely to see. We also had an exhibition dedicated to art college undergraduates originating from Longford, which had some really unique and promising work in it. I’d love to see that idea continue over the following years.”
There was a rewarding turnout to the wide range of events and workshops that took place over the Cruthú weekend, with people of all ages and backgrounds coming to support the arts in Longford. The closing music gig of Cruthú 2016 in St. John’s Church, featuring Mick Flannery and Haiku, was a sellout success. High praise was also given to Jerry Fish and his performance in the Longford Arms on Saturday night, as well as the comedy-music performance by entertainer Aindrias de Staic on Thursday. The performance piece TURF featuring Longford actor Frank Farrell was met with standing ovations.
“What I was really surprised about was the promising turnout for our spoken word poetry events: the performance workshops with Mark Grist and our open mic night with Stephen Murphy. I was incredibly worried about attendance for those, but Longford came out in force: people of all ages and experience levels came up to perform in the open mic night, which was brilliant. There was a real outpouring of emotion and support for unusual little events like these – long may they continue!” Dearbháil finished.
The entire Cruthú Arts Festival committee would like to thank everyone who was involved in making this year’s festival such a success: the performers, the artists, the organisers, the landlords, the sponsors, and every member of the public who came out to support Longford’s budding art culture. Stay in touch with Cruthú Arts Festival via email or on social media to learn how to get involved in next year’s festival.