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Dublin Festival of History Announces 2021 Programme

Problematic statues, gender history in Ireland, and why we’re obsessed with death: Dublin Festival of History announces its 2021 programme. The free festival will run from 20th September until 10th October, with a mix of in-person and online events.

What does the recent Mother and Baby Homes Report tell us about gender history in Ireland today? Why is Ireland, as a nation, obsessed with death? Why was a statue of Winston Churchill daubed with the word ‘racist’ in London last year? These questions, and many more, will be explored and discussed at this year’s Dublin Festival of History, set to take place in-person and online from Monday 20th September to Sunday 10th October. The free festival, an initiative of Dublin City Council, was officially launched inside the famous footbridge connecting Dublinia and Christchurch Cathedral in the heart of medieval Dublin by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland.

The festival, organised by Dublin City Libraries in partnership with Dublin City Council Culture Company and now in its ninth year, will be a mix of in-person and online events, and it will play host to a European, UK and domestic line-up of speakers and panels. Topics covered will be as broad as ever and will include Irish and European historical themes. Local history will be the focus of a series of library events hosted by Dublin City Libraries branches, with a number featuring the Dublin City Council Historians in Residence. The festival is supported by a number of partners who will run events as part of the programme, including Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, the Irish Film Institute, EPIC the Irish Emigration Museum, GAA Museum, Chester Beatty, 14 Henrietta Street, Richmond Barracks and more.

The festival will shine a light and fresh perspectives on topics such as women in history, the journey to Irish independence, Germany and the World Wars, Northern Ireland, as well as medieval Dublin.

The festival climax ‘The Big Weekend’ is happening from Friday the 8th until Sunday the 10th of October at The Printworks at Dublin Castle (subject to public health guidelines).

Some of the highlights from the 2021 programme include:

  • Neil Jordan in conversation with Stella Tillyard.
  • Women’s History Association of Ireland presents a discussion on the Mother & Baby Homes Report.
  • Fallen Idols: Twelve Statues That Made History.
  • Diarmaid Ferriter, author of Between Two Hells: The Irish Civil War.
  • A conversation with Susan McKay, author of Northern Protestants: On Shifting Ground.
  • Myles Dungan, author of Four Killings – Land, Hunger, Murder & Family.
  • Basara: David Bowie’s Kabuki Spirit.
  • Dublinia.
  • The Big History Quiz.
  • Illustrating History with John Farrelly.
  • Making Maps with Drumcondra Library and Donaghmede Library.

Speaking at the festival launch, Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland, said, “I’m delighted to officially launch this year’s Dublin Festival of History. As we’re all aware, we’re living in a time of great political, social and cultural change, influenced in no small way by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“However, the festival is an annual opportunity for us to explore and learn more about other significant periods of change in our history at both a national and international level, and the influence they have had on the world we live in today. I’m particularly excited to launch a number of events for children and families, fostering an interest in history and the world around us in our young people.”

Also commenting was Dublin City Librarian Mairead Owens, who said, “last year’s festival was a significant one in its own history, moving online for the first time, which allowed us to open up the festival to wider audiences. This is something we want to build on this year, with a mix of both in-person and online events. This year’s festival is wide-ranging and topical, exploring women’s history, the significant milestones of the decade of centenaries, the American War of Independence, and more.”

“As well as that, libraries throughout Dublin will be bringing the local history of our capital city to life, and we have a host of events taking place in partnership with cultural institutions throughout Dublin.”

Iseult Byrne, CEO of Dublin City Council Culture Company, commented, “we are delighted to be able to partner with Dublin City Libraries to bring this exciting festival to people across the city and beyond. It’s a fantastic opportunity to create more ways to connect with the culture, stories and histories of their city.”

“It’s a key aim for the Culture Company to find more ways for people to engage with the cultural places and spaces in their own neighbourhoods, and Dublin Festival of History provides so many opportunities for this. Whether you are a history novice, a storyteller, an enthusiast, or are just looking for something fun to do, we invite you all to get involved at this year’s festival.”

Source: Dublin City Council

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