Win a holiday on Inis Oírr as island’s arts centre turns 21!

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Sunset on Inis Oírr. Photo: Ciaran Tierney

The most westerly arts centre in all of Europe is holding a fundraising draw with a first prize of a five-night holiday on Inis Oírr as it gears up for its 21st birthday celebrations next month.

Áras Éanna’s Éalu Draíochta draw will see someone win a five-night escape for four adults on Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands.

The draw will help to secure the future of the island’s arts centre, which has hosted artists, concerts, residencies and exhibitions since the year 2000.

The winner of the online draw will be announced to coincide with the launch of three exhibitions and an outdoor concert on the island on Saturday, July 17.

Originally built to be a weaving factory, the distinctive building on Inis Oírr recently reopened to host artists in residence and a successful ‘virtual reality’ show by Brú Theatre after moving its activities online in response to the coronavirus in April of last year.

All three exhibitions will take place outdoors in line with COVID-19 restrictions and the concert will take place on the GAA pitch, where we had a wonderful night of celebration featuring local artists from the island and The Raines for Culture Night last September.

Artistic Director Dara McGee said that this year is very special and that they were hoping to celebrate their 20th anniversary last year.

“With the Covid-19 restrictions we decided that now is the time to celebrate as Ireland begins to open up,” said Dara McGee.

“We got a feel for exhibiting outdoors last year, when the restrictions lifted for a few months, and we see the island as a palate for the arts centre to put art out there in front of the community.”

Regular ‘live’ gigs on the Áras Éanna Facebook page allowed the arts centre to connect with a wider audience last year, providing a welcome revenue stream for West of Ireland musicians, but McGee is delighted to be back to organising events on the island.

The Ealú Draíochta fundraising draw, run in conjunction with Tuam-based iDonate.ie,  has been a huge success since receiving the backing of comedian, actor, and chat show host Tommy Tiernan, who made a wonderful 90 second video to support Áras Éanna during a recent visit to the island.

McGee was taken aback by the support he received from local businesses on the island, who have provided a host of extras, including a fully stocked fridge, a seaweed bath, bike hire, and trips around the island for the prize.

“This year we decided, because we are increasing our programme with visiting artists, we would try to raise some funds this year,” added Dara McGee.

“We have put together a fantastic package with local businesses on the island for a five night holiday, with a self-catering house, and a whole host of extra treats thrown in, sponsored by local businesses.”

July 17 promises to be a busy day on the island with the draw for the winning prize, the launch of three exhibitions, and a concert on the GAA pitch featuring musicians from the island and some very special guests. The full line-up will be announced in the next two weeks.

The main exhibition, called Curracha, will see paintings by 21 artists on six foot sculpted currachs, covered in canvas, located all around the island. Visitors to the island will be able to follow a map, like an art trail, to check out the 21 pieces of art.

The second exhibition is An Criú, featuring former and present Macnas artists who are coming out to Inis Oirr to exhibit their work for the fourth year in a row.

The third exhibition, also outdoors, will feature spectacular works of art by schoolchildren from Scoil Chaomháin, the island’s primary school.

Full details of the outdoor concert and exhibitions will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Tickets for the draw cost just €10. Funds raised will help Áras Éanna Ionad Ealaíne to continue inspiring great art by visiting artists and musicians as it celebrates its 21st birthday in 2021.

The tickets can be purchased at:  https://www.idonate.ie/raffle/araseannadraw