Welcome to Askeaton’s Contemporary Arts festival

2017's reinvention of games court by Tina O'Connell and Neal White

THE 13th production of ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’ opens formally this Saturday 14 at 3pm under the banner of Askeaton Contemporary Arts at this west Limerick village. Belt over on the 314 bus to view the making of diverse works here and there, right into the big reveal with a talk-tour and reception on Saturday July 28, 3pm.

This will be led by ACA’s Michele Horrigan and Seán Lynch.

Roam through the various locations to meet artists and their individual projects and preview virtually at www.askeatonarts.com

Limerick Post tapped Michele, a working artist and curator of this festival, as to what this Welcome is all about. She’s is proud local stock herself and the back story to this site-specific itinerary goes back a thousand years and more.

“Askeaton Contemporary Arts began in 2006, operating here, a small town in the west of Ireland. We have a population of roughly 800 and with the parish of Ballysteen and surrounding areas, about a 1000 in all.”

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She expands on proud, fiery tales of merchant life, trade and historical riches that defined Askeaton for millennia. Mighty Grace O’Malley was captured from a ship on the Shannon and imprisoned in the tower for a night before squaring with regent Elizabeth 1 in London. Vikings, French trade, Spanish, English have all been through the waters of the River Deel, tributary of the Shannon and thus Atlantic.

Stemming from such wealth,  villagers now harbour “the castle, a friary, the Hellfire Club going back to the 15th century, the Knights Templar tower.”

“Askeaton has been hard hit in past years,” she is clear, “and there’s a similar tale to other rural towns. It is very empowering to me to be from Askeaton and to be able to activate these sites again. We’re part of the Shannon Scenic loop now just off the Wild Atlantic Way and it has been interesting for us, the past while, to be part of this cultural tour.”

A publishing arm, ACA Public, reports and documents worldwide on this annual fortnight (and much more) of international and Irish professional artists making works “where there is no gallery or rooted space. They can be anywhere, from on the streets to a site, to a building, to a field or on the edge of town.”

Along with this year’s wave, enjoy the legacy evident from previous festivals that weathered time: “It’s the nature of what we do that some are a bit more ephemeral.”

There are sturdy times ahead for this unique promenade exhibition that animates the village. “We have long term aims and ideas on how to bring the Project forward. There’s a freedom there, where there has not been something before”, referencing the build of creative works in unusual everyday spaces and places.