European Capital of Culture 2005
Every year the European Union designates a European Capital of Culture. This allows a city to showcase its cultural and artistic life to a national and international audience. In 2005, Cork became the European Capital of Culture. Over one million people flocked to the city throughout the year, bringing unprecedented local and international media attention to the arts, which spanned visual art, theatre, dance, architecture, film, sports, literature, festivals and conferences. For art events in 2010, see Cork Art News.
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The Irish President, Mary McAleese officially opened the year at a special event in Corks City Hall on January 8th, 2005. While ceremonies were taking place in City Hall, outside, over 180 performers from around the world took to the streets. There were circus acts, giant puppeteers, robots, gorillas, carnival performers and samba music.The highlight of the day was the spectacular 'Awakening Ceremony', a display of fireworks which could be viewed 50 kms away in West Cork. Several tonnes of shells, flares and mines were computer choreographed to a custom-made soundtrack and fired from 6 separate sites around the city in a 15-minute bonanza.
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Highlights of the Year
During the year, the city witnessed displays by a host of International, Irish and Cork artists. Highlights included La Dona Manca o Barbi-Superestar by Spanish dancer Sol Picó and the Cork 2005 World Writing Series which attracted Nobel Prize laureate Seamus Heaney, Doris Lessing and Kenyan novelist Ngugi for public readings.
There was a hugely popular operatic performance by Andrea Bocelli at Collins Barracks. Other popular events that took place include Airgeadóir, an exhibition at the Crawford Art Gallery that showcased Cork's history of silver and goldsmiths from the past 400 years. Ireland's largest rowing race, 'Ocean to City' took place with over 500 rowers and 120 coastal rowing boats competing for first place. The world record for the largest gathering of ceilí dancers was broken at the Ceilí Mór. 'Relocation' was a site-specific piece of street theatre which attracted a large audience. And a lecture by the internationally acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind sold out within 24 hours.
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Paintings by James Barry, one of Cork's most important historical artists, were exhibited in the Crawford Art Gallery. There was a unique exhibition of collaborative drawings by John Berger, and an exhibition by the world-renowned photographer Sebastiao Salgado. Irish sculpture by the acclaimed Cork sculptor Dorothy Cross was also exhibited during the year. Plus, there were several other important exhibitions at the Cork Vision Center and the Lewis Glucksman Gallery. The Lavit Gallery held an exhibition of Arthur Maderson paintings. The Vanguard held exhibitions by John Kingerlee, Martin Finnin, Felim Egan, Sean McSweeney and Donald Teskey. The Fenton Gallery held exhibitions by Billy Foley, Hughie O'Donoghue, Sean Scully, Patrick Scott, Basil Blackshaw and William Crozier. See also: Buckley's Fine Art Gallery.
Eighteen Turns, a large aluminum pavilion structure with angled planes and reflective surfaces, designed by renowned Architect Daniel Libeskind (an international figure in architectural practice and urban design) was erected temporarily on the grounds of Foto House. He also gave a speech, Memory Foundation to coincide with the opening. And September 10th became Cork Heritage Day when over 30 buildings open their doors free of charge to the public. Over 5,000 people visited medieval, military, civic, commercial, education and ecclesiastical buildings.
All of the ongoing usual festivals, St Patricks Day Festival, Cork Film Festival, Cork Jazz Festival and the MidSummers Arts Festival added extra events to their programmes.
Other Festivals which took place during the Year:
The closing programme took place over a couple of days and started with New Beat, a musical event at City Hall featuring professional percussionists and other musicians. Then there was the Journey of Light as 12,000 members of the public journeyed through the city carrying their own individual light. And finally on New Years Eve, the city was illuminated yet again with another breathtaking display of fireworks.
It was a memorable year and helped Cork and Munster to take their place on the European cultural stage, and in doing so laid the foundations for future cultural and artistic collaborations.
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