Cork City: EU Capital of Culture 2005
Selected List of Visual Arts Events and Festivals From 2005.


European Capital of Culture 2005

Every year the European Union designates a ‘European Capital of Culture’. This allows a city to showcase its cultural and artistic life to a national and international audience. In 2005, Cork became the European Capital of Culture. Over one million people flocked to the city throughout the year, bringing unprecedented local and international media attention to the arts, which spanned visual art, theatre, dance, architecture, film, sports, literature, festivals and conferences. For art events in 2010, see Cork Art News.

For a personal view about the
top 10 or so painters from the
32 counties of Ireland see:
Best Irish Artists.

For facts about top prices for
works by artists in Ireland, see:
Most Expensive Irish Paintings.

Opening Ceremony

The Irish President, Mary McAleese officially opened the year at a special event in Cork’s City Hall on January 8th, 2005. While ceremonies were taking place in City Hall, outside, over 180 performers from around the world took to the streets. There were circus acts, giant puppeteers, robots, gorillas, carnival performers and samba music.The highlight of the day was the spectacular 'Awakening Ceremony', a display of fireworks which could be viewed 50 kms away in West Cork. Several tonnes of shells, flares and mines were computer choreographed to a custom-made soundtrack and fired from 6 separate sites around the city in a 15-minute bonanza.

Jane Jermyn
Ceramic artist, organic forms
Ayelet Lalor
Figurative ceramic sculptor
Chara Nagle
Figurative subject painter
Sara Roberts
Ceramicist, porcelain wall hangings
David Seeger
Abstract ceramic sculptor.

Backwater Artists Group
Artist collective
Cork Printmakers
Print collective
Maclise Art Society
City's leading art group
National Sculpture Factory
Ireland's leading 3-D institution.
West Cork Craft Design Guild
Co Cork's leading craft group.

Highlights of the Year

During the year, the city witnessed displays by a host of International, Irish and Cork artists. Highlights included ‘La Dona Manca o Barbi-Superestar’ by Spanish dancer Sol Picó and the Cork 2005 World Writing Series which attracted Nobel Prize laureate Seamus Heaney, Doris Lessing and Kenyan novelist Ngugi for public readings.

There was a hugely popular operatic performance by Andrea Bocelli at Collins Barracks. Other popular events that took place include ‘Airgeadóir’, an exhibition at the Crawford Art Gallery that showcased Cork's history of silver and goldsmiths from the past 400 years. Ireland's largest rowing race, 'Ocean to City' took place with over 500 rowers and 120 coastal rowing boats competing for first place. The world record for the largest gathering of ceilí dancers was broken at the Ceilí Mór. 'Relocation' was a site-specific piece of street theatre which attracted a large audience. And a lecture by the internationally acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind sold out within 24 hours.

For details of exhibitions & shows
in galleries across Ireland, see:
Irish Art Exhibitions.

For a list of monuments of
cultural or artistic interest, see:
Architectural Monuments Ireland.
Archeological Monuments Ireland.


Visual Arts

Paintings by James Barry, one of Cork's most important historical artists, were exhibited in the Crawford Art Gallery. There was a unique exhibition of collaborative drawings by John Berger, and an exhibition by the world-renowned photographer Sebastiao Salgado. Irish sculpture by the acclaimed Cork sculptor Dorothy Cross was also exhibited during the year. Plus, there were several other important exhibitions at the Cork Vision Center and the Lewis Glucksman Gallery. The Lavit Gallery held an exhibition of Arthur Maderson paintings. The Vanguard held exhibitions by John Kingerlee, Martin Finnin, Felim Egan, Sean McSweeney and Donald Teskey. The Fenton Gallery held exhibitions by Billy Foley, Hughie O'Donoghue, Sean Scully, Patrick Scott, Basil Blackshaw and William Crozier. See also: Buckley's Fine Art Gallery.



‘Eighteen Turns’, a large aluminum pavilion structure with angled planes and reflective surfaces, designed by renowned Architect Daniel Libeskind (an international figure in architectural practice and urban design) was erected temporarily on the grounds of Foto House. He also gave a speech, ‘Memory Foundation’ to coincide with the opening. And September 10th became Cork Heritage Day when over 30 buildings open their doors free of charge to the public. Over 5,000 people visited medieval, military, civic, commercial, education and ecclesiastical buildings.


2005 Festivals

All of the ongoing usual festivals, St Patrick’s Day Festival, Cork Film Festival, Cork Jazz Festival and the MidSummers Arts Festival added extra events to their programmes.

Other Festivals which took place during the Year:

Art Trail
Beamish Cork Folk Festival
Celebration of Travellers as Citizens of Cork
Cork International Pipe Organ Festival
Cork French Film Festival
Cork International Choral Festival
Cork International Folk Dance Festival
Cork Youth Film and Video Group
East Cork Early Music Festival
Fête de la Danse
Maritime Cork
Midleton Food & Drink Festival
Murphy’s Live
Oireachtas na Gaeilge
The Beamish Experience Festival
The Short Film Project
Togher International Festival of Amateur Photography
Unity in Diversity
West Cork Chamber Music Festival

Closing Program

The closing programme took place over a couple of days and started with ‘New Beat’, a musical event at City Hall featuring professional percussionists and other musicians. Then there was the ‘Journey of Light’ as 12,000 members of the public journeyed through the city carrying their own individual light. And finally on New Year’s Eve, the city was illuminated yet again with another breathtaking display of fireworks.

It was a memorable year and helped Cork and Munster to take their place on the European cultural stage, and in doing so laid the foundations for future cultural and artistic collaborations.

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