HISTORY was made at the opening of Kilkenny Arts Festival when the British ambassador, Dominich Chilcott attended the event which took place in the Pembroke Hotel prior to the opening of Shakespeare’s As You Like It in the Castle Yard.
Artists, sponsors, politicans and the festival team and committee gathered in the sunshine to celebrate the official opening of the festival opening. Festival CEO Rosemary Collier welcomed the guests and thanked the festival’s core funders the Arts Council and Failte Ireland as well as Kilkenny County Council, Kilkenny Borough Council, The Crafts Council, The Heritage Council and the business community for their support.
Mayor Sean O’hArgain opened the 39th Kilkenny Arts Festival on Friday evening. “Not alone is this the oldest arts festival in Ireland, but let nobody be in any doubt that ours is the best Arts festival for a myriad of different reasons. This is largely as a result of the huge work of the professional staff of Kilkenny Arts Festival, led by our new and dynamic CEO in Rosemary Collier who has hit the ground running since her appointment, but also because of the ongoing efforts of the local voluntary board members who are the unbroken link to the original founding committee. It is difficult to overstate the incredible work which that groundbreaking group of people did in jumping into creating Ireland’s first arts festival and we will be forever in their debt,” he said.
The Mayor also welcomed Ambassador Chilcott to the festival. “Being new to this job and being a shy, retiring sort of person, I nervously asked the Ambassador a few weeks ago if he would like to join us this evening for the Globe Theatre’s historic first performance in Ireland. His enthusiastic response was immediate and we are delighted to have you here Ambassador,” he said. He also publicly paid tribute to his wife Marian Flannery, who joined the festival team and is the main reason he chose to make the Marble City his home.
“Since 1988, I have missed one arts festival or week as it used to be. The wonderful atmosphere during the festival has permeated down through every layer in the city and it now lasts all year long. There are few more culturally diverse and artistically uplifting places to live or to visit in Ireland. I do not exaggerate when I say that our decision to come and live here was hugely influenced by that atmosphere and that culture. As Mayor I know that it is also intrinsic to the reasons why people visit here. We are a city of heritage, and very proud of that, but we are also a city in which we are building our new heritage, day after day and of course night after night also, he said adding that the festival will continue to prove that every penny invested in it pays back in spades.
Music curator Gerry Godley thanked his fellow curators and paid special tribute to Susan Proud who is stepping down from her role as classical music curator after 26 years. “The festival is testament to this historic, fine and handsome city. It is a festival of ideas and encounters and it is a festival of discovery,” he said. He described the festival as ‘a spa for your brain’ and encouraged people to ‘feed on the creativity that surrounds them’.