North Cork community gear up to host Arts Festival 

The creative juices are flowing again this year at Doneraile Arts FesT, writes AISLING MEATH, who finds out what is in store this year at the event, running from June 30 to July 3
North Cork community gear up to host Arts Festival 

Doneraile Arts FesT last year hosted ‘Curious Gardens’at Doneraile and Emo Park. They put on a Mad Hatters Tea Party. Pictured at the event were Ann-Marie Simpson (The White Rabbit), Marian Quirke (The Queen of Hearts), Amelia Simpson (Alice), Ian (The Cheshire Cat), Mary St Leger (The March Hare) and Julianne Guinee (The Mad Hatter).

THE north Cork town of Doneraile, which nestles beside the majestic Doneraile Court and wildlife park, is not only a place of beauty, but it is also a place brimming with creativity.

The local artistic community hosts a high calibre of community events throughout the year, including their annual summer arts event, Doneraile Arts FesT which will run this year from June 30 to July 3, and will see a fabulous variety of creative participatory events on offer.

All workshops are currently open for booking through their website, providing a great opportunity for people to enjoy creative pursuits alongside the guidance of professional artists.

There will be Felting facilitated by Mary Walsh, Pastel painting with Jackie Daly, Yoga with Orlaith Horgan, and a Children’s Workshop facilitated by Ann-Marie Simpson who is mother of three, and an avid crafter.

Children will love this nature-inspired workshop, which will be held in the beautiful setting of Doneraile Park, where they will be encouraged to develop their observational skills in the lush surroundings, and it is suitable for four to 12 year olds.

Artist Yvonne Tierney will also facilitate a workshop ‘Building the Goddess’, which is an intuitive Art Process enabling participants to express the sacred feminine.

“This process awakens the Divine Feminine attributes of openness, flow, sensitivity, connection, nurturing and intuition. These qualities enrich our personal lives but also are much needed in this crazy world we live in today,” she explained.

Doneraile Arts Fest Paint and a Pint which is hosted on the last Saturday of every month in the Glenanaar Pub, Main Street, Doneraile.
Doneraile Arts Fest Paint and a Pint which is hosted on the last Saturday of every month in the Glenanaar Pub, Main Street, Doneraile.

There will be an opportunity to paint a portrait with a live model, facilitated by Julianne Guinee, paint with Pastels with Jackie Daly, or enjoy a pint while doing some painting at The Glenanaar Bar, and these sessions also run throughout the year, once a month.

Artist Jaclyn Hargreaves will lead a Pleine Air workshop in Doneraile Park, where people will be able to experience the process of creating art in an outdoor setting.

“The importance of preserving the traditional arts cannot be under-estimated,” said Gordan Mewis who will share his knowledge of the traditional craft of Súgán Stool making, with all the materials supplied.

Súgán is the Irish word for straw rope, and these stools were found in many traditional Irish homes in days gone by.

Local resident Ann-Marie Simpson moved to the area from the UK two years ago and is a member of the organising committee. She really appreciates the creative community of which she is now part.

“My dad passed away very suddenly last year and the artistic community in Doneraile really helped me through the shock and grief of his sudden loss,” said Ann-Marie, “and pretty much kept me going with all the fun and community spirit which can be found here.”

Along with Ann Marie, the team consists of local artist Mary St Leger, Terry Gillett, Sherlyn Coleman, Brian Sheridan, Jenny Healy, and Julianne Guinee.

“There are many other volunteers who have also come on board to help,” said Ann-Marie.

They include Marian Quirke, Catherine Murray, Emily de Monfort, Amelia Simpson, Pat Bierne, Orlaith Hogan, Dawn Fleming, Hilary Sheehan, George St Leger and Evelyn Reed.

“As a community, we always try and come up with something for each festival which includes art, dancing, drama and singing in the street. Any excuse to dress up!

“Watch out for sightings of Lady Doneraile taking tea during the festival, whose fabulous outfit, including her teapot, was entirely crocheted by the local Active Retirement group.”

Mary St Leger is a professional artist and one of the founding members of ‘Art for the Heart’, which was the predecessor of and inspiration for the current Summer festival and was nominated for the Cork County Mayor’s Community Awards 2022.

“A few years ago, we put out the word to the local community that we were planning an art exhibition in our local Church of Ireland St Mary’s,” said Mary.

“We are so lucky that they have always been wonderfully supportive of us by allowing us to use the space for exhibitions and concerts.

“The response to our call-out was tremendous and we ended up with more than 35 exhibitors, and it was not only from painters, but we had pottery, we had craft, we had patchwork, we had all kinds of everything. We called this exhibition ‘How Great thou Art’. This in turn led on to Doneraile Art FesT.

“I am a very strong believer that positive mental health can be supported by creativity in the community, and I believe everyone has their creative side, even if they don’t realise it, it’s just a matter of giving it a go, and enjoying the great benefits which come about through exploring creativity.

“We are also delighted to be once again hosting our annual Plein Air competition. This year we are offering a first prize of €1,000, which was kindly sponsored by Cork County Council, a second prize of €300 sponsored by Mallow Credit Union, and a third prize of a €50 voucher for Cork Art Supplies, which they sponsored along with Doherty Centra,” she said.

For bookings and details: see and Facebook page: Doneraile Art FesT

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