The Apple of Our Eye

Celebrating the relationship between Ireland and New York, one story at a time.

I.NY is an international cultural festival that celebrates the breadth and depth of the connection between Ireland and New York through music, literature, film, theatre, exhibitions, presentations, street-art and the Annie Moore talks series.

Last year saw the launch of the festival, and director David O’Donovan recounts one particularly memorable moment.

“About an hour in, Joseph O’Connor invited Glen Hansard to tell his story of the evening David Bowie passed. Hansard had left his East Village hotel with his guitar on his back and walked to Bowie’s Lafayette St residence, where he played Ashes To Ashes to the crowd gathered outside leaving flowers, notes and lyrics on the stoop.

Having told the story, he stood to play the song once more, this time to a capacity audience at Limerick’s Lime Tree Theatre. The Oscar-winning songwriter and award-winning author were performing together for the first time, a headline show of the inaugural I.NY Festival staged across multiple venues in Limerick last October. The festival, exploring and celebrating the relationship between Ireland and New York, tells that story through music, literature, film, theatre, talks and more. Over three hours, the author and musician discussed the impact New York has had on their lives, both personally and artistically, and performed the work inspired by the city.”

They were joined within a diverse, 11-day programme by leading personalities from the worlds of politics, education, fashion, sport and media, with Orla Kiely, Jean Butler, Damien Dempsey, Gerry Leonard, Dara Ó Cinnéide and many more also welcomed to Limerick to host or headline I.NY events. Guests from New York also had a significant presence in the programme, with Dr Jane O’Meara Sanders, political advisor to and wife of US Senator Bernie Sanders, Rhonda Sherman, Director of The New Yorker Festival, and Kathryn Lloyd from the Lower East Side Tenement Museum headlining the I.NY Annie Moore Talks programme. Harlem’s Qool DJ Marv headlined at the I.NY Festival Club, and Caroline Heafey from NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House spoke at the I.NY Creative Education Symposium.

The concept for I.NY came from the work of David O’Donovan, a UL graduate of the MA in Festive Arts at the Irish World Academy, and Aoife Flynn, a graduate of the Cultural Entrepreneurship MA in Trinity College Dublin. Both had worked in event and festival curation and management for 20 years, and, with the support of Fáilte Ireland and Limerick City and County Council, had researched and developed the I.NY project over 18 months. Stemming from a personal fascination with and love for New York City, that research turned up a score of stories that were unexplored, while conversations in both places showed just how personal these stories were for people, and how everyone, no matter what age, home-place or area of interest, had their own individual tale to tell.

Quickly, the first I.NY programme took shape, and added to the cultural events anchoring the programme were events celebrating the unique sporting, political, business and education relationship that joins both places. The Irish diaspora in New York also became a central theme of the festival, and The Gathering at Dromoland Castle welcomed an Irish and Irish-American audience to share their own experiences and hear the stories of guest speakers, including designer Orla Kiely, former New York Consul General Tim O’Connor, and Emmy-winning producer Maura Kelly.

Recognising the potential within Limerick City to host a major annual cultural event modelled on key national festivals such as the Galway International Arts Festival, the Cork Jazz or Wexford Festival Opera, the ambition for I.NY is to become a significant feature on the national cultural calendar. As an annual, internationalising event, I.NY also contributes to Limerick’s offering as a visitor destination, and to the on-going re-imagining of the city. University of Limerick, as a key partner in the inaugural I.NY Festival, regards this partnership as part of its commitment to support Limerick’s growing cultural reputation and accelerate the work of speaking about the city, both nationally and internationally.

I.NY 2018 will run across various venues in Limerick from October 5–15, with significant cultural and educational programming taking place in UL.

Visit www.thisisiny.com for news of confirmed artists and events, festival video and audio.

David O’Donovan, MA Festive Arts, 2014

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