The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, in partnership with the Embassy of Ireland, will host a three-week celebration of Irish culture in 2016 to coincide with the global commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising.
“Ireland 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts and Culture” will run from May 17 until June 6, 2016 in Washington DC, featuring the best in Ireland’s contemporary music, dance, theater and literature and highlighting Irish culture and its relationship to America.
Including acts such as Tara Erraught and Anthony Kearns, Fiona Shaw, and Enda Walsh, “Ireland 100” will explore the journey of Irish culture from the country’s early days of independence in the early 20th century to the contemporary acts Ireland produces today. The three weeks will be filled with film screenings, culinary events, and performances with a special emphasis on the strength of Irish literature worldwide featuring more than 20 authors, playwrights, and poets including Eavan Boland and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.
Running alongside other international events commemorating the 1916 Rising, the DC festival will also pay tribute to the effect of the Rising and Ireland’s turbulent history at the start of the last century on the artists of the time. Many of Ireland’s best, such as W. B. Yeats, were affected by the politics of the country in its fight for independence and this is evident throughout some of their work.
“Ireland is a nation of storytellers and we have a long history of presenting many of the great stories and work of Irish artists,” said Alicia Adams, Kennedy Center Vice President for International Programming and Dance and curator of the festival.
“We look forward to presenting the best of Irish arts and culture as we celebrate with Ireland a remarkable journey of the creative arts and expression.”
Other performances in the festival include “this is an Irish dance”, a dance/music duet created by dancer and choreographer, Jean Butler, in collaboration with Belfast-based cellist Neil Martin; and a performance from acclaimed ensemble The Gloaming.
The setting of the festival is more than fitting in one of America’s prime performing arts centers, treasuring the memory of John F. Kennedy, the most famous of Irish-American President. Not only was JFK one of the most well-known Irish-Americans in history, but he was also the first sitting US President to visit Ireland, traveling to the Kennedy homestead in Dunganstown, Co. Wexford in 1963 (where a Kennedy Homestead museum now stands).
The festival will also stand as a marked remembrance of the impact of Irish Americans on early 20th century Irish politics and on the Rising, in particular. Many of the 1916 leaders had spent time in the US in the years preceding the Rising and their experiences influenced their policies and ideals.
Even in the aftermath of the Rising, influential leaders linked to the US such as Eamon de Valera surfaced to take over the reins of the movement. De Valera was born in New York.
“We are delighted to partner with the Kennedy Center on this exciting festival to commemorate Ireland’s 100 year journey from the 1916 Rising and the early days of independence to today,” said Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, Anne Anderson.
“This centenary will have particular resonance in the United States. Five of the seven signatories to the 1916 Proclamation spent periods of time in the U.S. that significantly influenced their thinking and actions. The U.S. is the only foreign country specifically mentioned in the Proclamation; it has the greatest concentration of our diaspora; and the contemporary ties are of extraordinary depth and breadth.
“This festival will give us an opportunity to express our gratitude for the support that the U.S. has provided to Ireland throughout the last century, and, we hope, will help to renew and strengthen the bonds of friendship into the future.”
The festival is just one of a wide range of events planned for the US throughout 2016 including a gala premiere screening of the Notre Dame-produced documentary on 1916 in University of Notre Dame, a series of public lectures and events in Glucksman Ireland House at New York University and a major commemorative event in April at the headquarters of the American Irish Historical Society in New York.
Tickets are currently available to members and go on sale to the public September 18. More information on “Ireland 100” can be found at: http://www.kennedy-center.org/festivals/ireland