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Dublin Archdiocesan Culture Night offering was ‘a collection of collections’

By Cian Molloy - 24 September, 2017

The Dublin Archdiocese took an active part in this year’s Culture Night last Friday, with events held in St Mary’s Church, the Pro-Cathedral, and at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe.

Culture Night started in Dublin 13 years ago when a small group of public and private institutions opened their doors to the public, and staged free cultural events including concerts, lectures and dramatic performances. Since then, the eclectic cultural celebration has started to spread across the country and this year the Culture Night programme was bigger than ever.

For its part, the Dublin Archdiocese invited the public to the Pro-Cathedral for Choral Vespers at 5.30pm followed by a concert of sacred music, both ancient and modern, at 6pm, with both events featuring the Palestrina Choir under the direction of Blánaid Murphy, and accompanied by organist David Grealy.

A short journey away with a free bus service included, at Holy Cross College, the Archdiocese staged an exhibition on how the faithful of Dublin, and of Ireland as a whole, respond to international appeals for aid.  Indeed, while other institutions exhibited their collections on Culture Night, the Dublin Archdiocese had an exhibition about collections!  But what an interesting offering the collection of collections made!

There was a particular focus on the post-war years, 1949-1971 and as always, the parishioners of Dublin were abundant in their help for people suffering from war, famine, and natural disaster.  Some of the earliest appeals related to the Congo, Biafra and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Material on display included photographs and letters of thanks and appreciation from various parts of Vietnam, which suffered devastation during the twenty year war.

There were also displays relating to disasters closer to home, including the storm floods that affected Fairview and the East Wall in December 1954.  As the city was hit by gale-force winds, heavy rain and sleet, The Irish Press newspaper described it as ‘The worst day following the worst night in memory’.  The North Strand was under so much water that the Dublin Evening Mail said the scene was ‘more like Venice than Dublin’.  Such was the devastation that appeals were made overseas for the Dubliners affected. Among those who responded was the famous conductor, Sir John Barbirolli, of the New York Philharmonic, who organised a charity concert in Manchester with the Hallé Orchestra, to provide assistance.

Another interesting section related to a collection taken up for the people of Hungary in 1956 at a time when the Catholic Church was being suppressed by the Communist Party, with Cardinal József Mindszenty, who was tortured and given a life sentence in prison, being the most high-profile victim of the oppression. More than £38,000 was donated as a result of a church plate collection  – the equivalent of €1.4million in today’s money.

There was also a little entertainment provided on the night with music from Chile, Catalonia and India.  Overall the evening was a great success and the Archdiocese is likely to participate in Culture Night next year.

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