What enables a little country of just over 6 million people (North and South) to capture 14 Oscar Awards and 9 Nobel Prizes? Some have said that creativity is in the DNA of the Irish people. Ireland’s President, Michael D. Higgins loves Ireland “for its imagination and its celebration of the endless possibilities for our people.” The source of Ireland’s imagination and creativity has yet to be discovered but the story-telling of her citizens is one possibility.
There is no denying that Ireland is a nation of storytellers. Wherever you go and whoever you meet, people want to tell you stories. Perhaps a legacy of Ireland’s oral traditions, the Irish are keen to converse and connect. They are powerful and prolific communicators of their stories with the highest per capita use of social media along with an extensive corpus of song, literature and theatre.
From the internationally recognised to the locally embedded, art and culture can be found in every town and village in Ireland – book clubs, poetry groups, festivals, art exhibitions, amateur theatre, musical societies and choirs. Creative talent is encouraged and celebrated. Art, culture and those who create it are very accessible and amenable to sharing their experiences and practices.
The 1916 Centenary celebrations in 2016 perhaps best encapsulate Ireland’s creative capacity. This pivotal moment in Ireland’s history was celebrated primarily through artistic expression in music, theatre, performances, festivals, art and film throughout Ireland and internationally. Irish and international citizens participated, witnessed, attended and performed at myriad cultural events that explored the Rising – its leaders, actions, ideals and the impact on the evolution of Ireland as an independent Republic.
The impact of these recent artistic expressions motivated the Irish Government to launch ‘Creative Ireland’ in December 2016 that will be a five year programme to enhance Ireland’s creative provision and potential. These recent events may be inspired by one single chapter in Ireland’s history, but they are representative of an artistic community that is very much rooted in the present, creating works that are testament to a country that continues to be artistically re-imagined and redefined.
“It’s really the people. It’s the seasoning that the Irish man and woman bring to the language.”
Julian Santiago, 2015/16 Uversity graduate