(Left) some of the Athlone Little Theatre members who will reprise their staged reading of the epic poem ‘An Gorta Mór Bis’ this evening (8pm) for Culture Night and (right) Athlone poet Jackie Gorman who is hosting a creative writing class and staging a poetry reading today.

Culture Night in Westmeath has something for everyone

Poetry readings, a creative writing class and a choir recital are just some of the cultural delights on offer today (Friday) when Culture Night 2022 takes place across a host of venues in county Westmeath.

The nationwide cultural initiative sees castles, galleries, art studios and other cultural spaces open up their doors to members of the public free of charge for one night only, and also sees free classes, tutorials and concerts taking place.

Among those taking part in this year's Culture Night are Athlone Castle, Athlone Library, Luan Gallery and Athlone Little Theatre, and members of the public are strongly encouraged to get out and about and sample the many unique cultural events that have been organised.

Athlone Little Theatre is giving drama and history fans a second chance to catch a staged reading of 'An Gorta Mór Bis' for Culture Night.

The recently written epic poem based on our Famine history, was first staged back in June in Athlone Little Theatre to great acclaim from the many visitors and locals alike who thronged the theatre for its world premiere.

The work by fourth generation Irish-American Thomas Milan, a retired NATO Official living in Paris, was inspired by stories handed down by his forebears and he spent many years researching the subject. This culminated in a theatrical reading of the epic poem for the first time in Athlone Little Theatre in the summer with director Joe MacCarrick at the helm.

If you missed out the first time, the reprise performance takes place in Athlone Little Theatre this evening at 8pm to mark Culture Night 2022. Admission is free, no booking required.

An audio recording of 'An Gorta Mór Bis' by Thomas Milan will be played on Athlone Community Radio on October 9 next at 6pm.

Admission to Athlone Castle is free between 5pm and 7.30pm on Friday night and members of the public can either take a self-guided tour of the Castle, enjoy a selection of traditional games in the Castle grounds and try on some period costumes, or they can book a free guided tour on a first-come first-served basis. Spaces are limited for the guided tour so-pre-booking is strongly advised by phoning 090 644213 or by emailing: info@athlonecastle.ie

Renowed local poet, Jackie Gorman, who was the recipient of an Arts Council of Ireland Agility Award to develop a sequence of poems exploring the ecology and landscape of Westmeath, will host a Creative Writing Class in Abbey Road Studios community space from 3pm to 5pm on Friday. The class is suitable for 18+ and pre-booking is essential at 090 644154 or by email at: info@luangallery.ie

Jackie will also host a poetry reading in Luan Gallery on Friday night at 6.30pm.

Also in Abbey Road Studios, two resident artists, Mimi Seery and Ciara Tuite, will open their studio doors from 4pm to 6pm on Culture Night to give visitors a unique behind-the-scenes look at the artists' at work in their studio space. The talented duo will also showcase some of their artwork and work in progress and will speak about what inspires them.

Athlone's Dead Centre Brewery will host a live painting demo with acclaimed local artist, illustrator, and jeweller, Claire Guinan, who specializes in portraiture and works mainly in oils and pencils. She takes inspiration from music, lyrics, and stories, and during her live painting demo she will show painting techniques, talk through her processes, and show how to mix colours using oil paint. The event takes place from 7pm to 9pm.

Athlone’s municipal art gallery, Luan Gallery invites the public to visit its group exhibition, Breaking Borders, from 5pm to 7.30pm, where staff will be on hand to give an overview of the exhibition to those who are interested. This challenging exhibition brings together seven visual artists working in various mediums including painting, video, photography, sculpture, and performance.

Shambles Art Studio will also open its doors to the public to showcase an exhibition of work by local artists from 5pm to 8pm, while multi-award winning local female choir, Athlone a Capella, promise to give a truly uplifting musical performance for members of the public on Friday night in Athlone Library, between 6pm and 6.45pm.

This amazing choir, which was first founded in 2012, and reformed again in June of this year following Covid, is a delight to listen to, so a visit to hear them perform in Athlone Library on Friday evening is an absolute must for music lovers of all ages.

Other Culture Night highlights in Westmeath this Friday night include an evening of traditional music in P. Egan's pub in Moate, led by Camillus Hiney & Friends, which kicks off at 9pm, and a pop-up gallery by artist, Rosemary Langtry, whose art is due to go on display in Pennsylvania, USA in November.

On Culture Night, Rosemary's art called "Straight Out of Ireland" can be viewed on the Greenway, at Whitegates, at 4pm for an hour and will then travel along the Greenway to the Marina where members of the public will be able to view her art until 6pm.