Pictured: Limerick FC players in the Marketsfield, take on Finn Harps in the second leg of their Premier Division play-off this Friday.
As the deciding date looms for the four contenders for European Capital of Culture, some of Limerick’s other well-known citizens announce their support for Limerick 2020.
Mike Fitzpatrick, Director Limerick 2020, said: “Limerick is on the cusp of profound transformation which is being driven by culture. It’s great to have the support of great cultural figures like Paul O’Connell, Author Donal Ryan, musician Noel Hogan of the Cranberries. It’s an honour, to be battling for this prize of European Capital of Culture 2020.”
Captaining Ireland to the Ruby World Cup is Limerick man Paul O’Connell. He said: “Sport is a huge part of our culture and in Limerick it’s in our blood; it crosses all cultures and boundaries, bringing people from all backgrounds, age groups and ethnicity together. In Limerick there is a huge wealth of cultural activity be it sport, music, art, theatre, fashion, community and heritage.
“Personally, I really saw that proven in 2014 during Limerick’s reign as the national City of Culture. It was fantastic to see the crowds of people at all the various cultural events that were put on across the city and county; who would have thought that in Limerick, a Giant Granny could captivate the hearts of more people than a Heineken Cup game in Thomond Park.
“Considering its size, our home in Limerick has produced some amazing artists, designers, entertainers, writers, performers and much more. Given my career, I’m extremely familiar with the importance of teamwork and the Limerick of today is now working as a strong team.
“It is a confident, energetic place that is clearly on the road to a great future. Limerick 2020 would give many Limerick people the opportunity to excel on a broader stage, connecting the people of Limerick, culturally and I believe the Limerick 2020 European Capital of Culture bid comes at a perfect time. The Limerick 2020 bid is about teamwork and my belief is that our team has everything it needs to be a winning one,” he said.
Musician Noel Hogan of The Cranberries, one of Ireland’s biggest music success stories internationally, said: “When the Cranberries took off I was privileged to play and travel all over the world experiencing the many different cultures and music on offer, which really broadened my life experiences. But even when we stayed for any length at time in the most amazing places at the back of my mind I was still thinking of home, Limerick my hometown with family, friends and the beautiful Georgian landmarks.
“This September there was a month long culture extravaganza in Limerick called the 061 (the dialing code for Limerick) I got involved in Love Letters from Limerick, which was an art and collaboration gift project to the city. The top international sign writers from all over the world came to Limerick and in addition to workshops they worked on a huge sign which they gifted to the city. The sign title was taken from our very first 10 million selling album title ‘Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t we?’
And that’s how I feel about Limerick, with the wealth of experience we garnered from last year’s City of Culture, there is no city better placed to be European Capital of Culture 2020. Not to mention it’s a fun city,” he finished.
Author Donal Ryan, was long listed for the Booker Prize in 2013 and won the Guardian First Book Award in the same year. Ryan believes Limerick’s bid for European Capital of Culture is a unique opportunity for the region.
“For anyone who has an artistic mind set but has yet to explore it fully I think the opportunity that the bid presents is endless”, he says.
“So many talented creatives feel the urge to drop their talent in return for a ‘traditional job’. They feel they need to play safe. The fact that a place like Limerick, a small city, a scrapper of a city, could win such a prestigious bid would give such a boost not just to the city but the vast number of talented creatives the city is now generating.”
Ryan speaks of a deep respect for the likes of theatre producers such as Bottom Dog Theatre Company, a group who formed in the middle of the economic downturn. “They have sailed into stormy waters and stayed afloat. Only recently we saw them take New York by storm with Myles Breen’s Language Unbecoming a Lady,” he added.
Ryan describes what he sees as an artistic sensibility that seems to rise naturally from Limerick people. “There is a performance in the everyday in Limerick. The smallest little thing can become a fascinating drama. There is an addictive quality to the way Limerick people tell their stories, a sense of fearlessness that goes back almost a thousand years. Limerick stood against so many invaders and was never conquered. It says it all really”.
Ryan has recently taken up the position of writer in residence in the Arts Department of the University of Limerick as part of the MA in Creative Writing course which is chaired by Joseph O’Connor.
The position has allowed him to encounter new young writers who have challenged his own way of working. Donal Ryan has very strong links to Limerick. Creative Limerick writers such as Gerry Stembridge, Kevin Barry, Paul Lynch and Roisin Meaney are writers who have greatly influenced his work.
“They are all writers with fascinating stories to tell and incredible ways of doing it”, he says. “Frank McCourt is one of the reasons I’m a writer. I often forget to credit his influence because the effect he had on the way I approach writing was so profound it has almost become part of my make-up, and not something I consciously think about,” Ryan finished.
Visit the Limerick 2020 website here