Some months ago, a cherished Limerick cultural event was under threat. The shock and worry were palpable among our literary community, but the crisis has passed. The White House poets have settled into a new venue, Brendan O’Brien’s on Roches Street. And a newly formed organisation, the Limerick Poets’ Society, has taken up the mantle.
I have the privilege of serving as Chairman of the LPS and filling the role of compère most Wednesday nights, when our many gifted local poets share their work. I’m following in esteemed footsteps. Local poets Barney Sheehan and Tom McCarthy led the poetry Open Mic Night for many years, while legendary local poets, including the late Desmond O’Grady, have long given the event their support.
But the successful launch of the Limerick Poets’ Society and re-launch of Wednesday’s open mic poetry are small parts of a much bigger shift in Limerick’s cultural fortunes. From the highly successful Stanzas Evening of Words, to the well-established Limerick Writers’ Centre and the very exciting Limerick Fringe festival, we are experiencing an artistic resurgence.
This stunning improvement in Limerick’s cultural life is primarily led by ordinary people, have-a-go writers and hard working enthusiasts who aren’t afraid to dive into new projects. That’s the most encouraging aspect of our little renaissance – it’s led by the cultural grassroots.
While Limerick may not have the same reputation for culture as Dublin or Galway, we have great people and great ideas. The number of excellent local writers, published and unpublished, burgeoning young talent and the drive to succeed are assets the whole community can take pride in.
As we face the challenges of the next few years, with political and economic uncertainty, our ability to make art and express ourselves through culture will be essential. Limerick is poised to be at the forefront of challenges and opportunities for writers, poets, actors, musicians and all creative minds. Only by supporting each other can we hope to make the most of our talents, experiences and enthusiasm.
Working together, Limerick’s artistic community can turn a revival into a permanent cultural revolution.