Leave a Light On

Leave a Light On 2021Leave a Light On Trail



Dunamaise Arts Centre is proud to announce a brand new initiative entitled ‘Leave a Light On’ - a mental wellbeing campaign and collaborative project, funded by Healthy Ireland Laois and commissioned by Dunamaise Arts Centre. Artists and local secondary school students were commissioned to create window designs inspired by the theme of nurturing positive mental health, under the leadership of the projects Guest Curator, Caroline Keane and aims to foster a sense of positive mental health in our community. The results of which can be viewed across businesses in Portlaoise town centre from 21st to 31st October.

This initiative stems from the first Local Community and Development Committee (LCDC) Healthy Laois Plan 2018-2020, that was developed in association with Laois County Council, under the National Government Framework, to improve Health and Wellbeing and contains a specific action to support the delivery of the “Introduction to Youth Mental Health” and “Minding Youth Mental Health”.

‘Leave a Light On’ is a project to light up the darkness, creating a gallery of unique window displays. Artists and local secondary school students created wonderful transparent paper artworks, designed to hang in windows of Portlaoise town centre and shine bright in the winter evenings. Exercising positive mental health habits by developing empathy, self- awareness and self-management, from the process of creating an artwork that will be illuminated in the town centre.

Over a series of sessions, teachers and artists guided the students through the art making process creating a design; illustrating their thoughts; while showing them how to expressively capture their ideas. The artists, art teachers and students worked collaboratively on all aspects of the artistic process, to make sure the art pieces expressed a sense of positive mental health and were ready for exhibition.

“For some window spaces participating in this project, there was an Artist Call for the wider community to participate, young creatives, artists, art students and teenagers who are home schooled. There was a really positive reaction and the designs which best met the criteria, based on the art medium and subject of fostering mental wellness, were selected”, said Caroline Keane, Curator of the project.
Along with the Dunamaise Arts Centre, the participating businesses who are facilitating a window for this initiative are Shaws Department Stores, Irish foot & Hand Spa, Nook & Cranny, Gerry Browne Jewellers, Anthem Music, Old Fort Piercing & Tattoo, EBS Main Street, the Office Centre, Tax Assist Accountants, Vimar Digital Marketing. Laois County Council has joined in this initiative with Art installations fitted at its headquarters at Áras an Chontae, Portlaoise.

The Library Service is also supporting this initiative to continue through the month of November, by channelling packs and materials to the wider communities of Laois to take part and create their own window designs at home.

Citizens will be able to enjoy a Virtual Tour of the exhibition and scan QR Codes, placed at all participating businesses to follow the exhibition trail around Portlaoise town centre. Physical map trails of the exhibition can be found at the Dunamaise Box Office, where the art trail commences and where it concludes at Áras an Chontae. During the virtual tour, a video presentation is attached to a QR code and maps of the exhibition trail itself, where there will be important information contacts and details on Mental Wellbeing and Suicide Prevention supports that are available.

In addition, there will be a YouTube video prepared from the event itself and this will be published on all social media platforms including the Healthy Ireland and Laois Connects pages of, all Dunamaise Arts Centre platforms and .

Dunamaise Arts Centre would like to acknowledge the funding it has received from “The Healthy Ireland Fund, supported by the Department of Health and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Affairs”, an initiative of the Government of Ireland, administered by Laois County Council, LCDC and Healthy Ireland Laois, as well as the Arts Council.

Further information on this initiative is available by contacting the Healthy Ireland Team in Laois County Council at email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Forever Young

Forever Young Always Human Mailchimp


Access our online creative writing pack HERE!

This spring, Dunamaise Arts Centre is inviting older people to participate in “Forever Young” – the second phase of its Always Human initiative – a multi-art form, multi-phase project where older people inspire artists and focus on times past by preserving memories through the arts.

Led by poet and creative writing tutor Denise Curtin Dunne, with the support of the KEEP WELL Campaign, Dunamaise is rolling out this second chapter of Always Human by celebrating their memories and special moments and creating a souvenir in writing. No experience or background in writing is necessary and special packs containing all the relevant materials to take part, will be available from Dunamaise Arts Centre.

The Always Human project was created by Artistic Director Cabrini Cahill, understanding how isolating the Covid Pandemic has been for many older people. Whether forced to stay home in their houses or care homes, access to incoming artists, art therapists and guest performers ended suddenly; trips out to theatres, cinemas, art classes and other vital social and cultural interactions which were such beloved experiences, had to be cancelled. Also, at a time when artists and entertainer’s employment has been decimated and Dunamaise Arts Centre has been closed (for all but a few weeks!) since last March, Cabrini devised and Dunamaise commissioned new ways of connecting artists and older audiences.

The Always Human pilot project last December saw the creation of a painting by Pauline Conroy as well as a radio documentary and podcast by award-winning broadcaster Ann-Marie Kelly, inspired by the memories and life story of Bill Lalor from Mountmellick. A greeting card with Pauline's artwork was sent out to over 100 older people across Laois along with ‘An Invitation to Participate’. That pilot project has fuelled this second chapter “Forever Young, A Souvenir in Writing”.

Now in this second chapter, Dunamaise Arts Centre presents a warm invitation for older people to celebrate their early adult years, preserve their special moments in life and share their memories through creative writing.

Poet and Creative Writing tutor, Denise Curtin Dunne explains “Very often, very happy memories surface when looking at old photographs, hearing music, or recalling friendships and events from the early years of our adulthood. We would love you to dip into those memories and celebrate something from that time in writing. It can be as short or as long a piece of writing as you like! It could be as a poem, a story, or just a few lines that sum up what you’d like to share with us, or alternatively, you can answer as much of the questionnaire as you like. We would particularly like you to focus on that decade in your life, when you were 18-28 years old, and tell us a little bit about what your social life was like then and the things you really enjoyed doing.”

While some people might know exactly how and where to start, some may never before have expressed themselves in this way, so Denise's specially designed prompts and tips that will help guide new writers through the process. One-to-one sessions by phone or online with Denise can be booked, offering guidance and encouragement.

“As older people cannot come to Dunamaise during lockdown, we’ll come to YOU, in innovative ways, creating meaningful new connections. We hope that older audience members in our community will enjoy and benefit from engaging with creative activities which reflect your lives & experiences.”, said Michelle de Forge, Director of Dunamaise Arts Centre.

Forever Young creative writing packs can be requested from Dunamaise Arts Centre on 057 8663355 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . They can also be picked up from All Books shop, Portlaoise and will be distributed through volunteers with Laois Library Service and Age Friendly networks.

Dunamaise Arts Centre would like to acknowledge the funding received from the KEEP WELL Campaign, which is brought to you with thanks to Healthy Ireland, an initiative of the Government of Ireland with funding from the Healthy Ireland Fund and the Sláintecare Fund delivered by Pobal, administered by Laois County Council, and Healthy Ireland Laois. Dunamaise Arts Centre also gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of Laois County Council and The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

To take part in Forever Young, tel: 057 8663355 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or use our online creative writing pack.

Open Call

Calling Out to Young Curators!


If you’re aged 18 to 29 and interested in the arts – would you like to create a Festival of Events for young people? Apply now!

Dunamaise Arts Centre now invites 2 young people to select an exciting programme of theatre / music / dance / film / visual arts events, to present a Young Curators Festival across all eight of our partner venues in the NASC Theatre Network, in June 2021.

You’ll be supported by a member of Dunamaise staff. You’ll receive mentoring from 2 arts practitioners who will guide you on programming and will assist you to connect with artists.

You’ll engage with the mentors and young curator panels across the NASC partner venues, sharing ideas and information and work closely with the Dunamaise team to develop and promote the festival.

Appointed curators will be paid fees & agreed expenses and you will be allocated a programme budget to manage. This project requires some intensive and regular online meetings (from early April to early June) to develop the Festival programme, and then to deliver the Festival in mid-June. Programmed by young people for young people, this Festival aims to feature a high-quality selection of live and online performance and workshops, adaptable to relevant COVID restrictions.

You might be studying the arts at third level or a recent graduate, but this is not essential.

If you are…

  • From, living in or connected with Laois;
  • Passionate about the arts and love attending performances & events
  • Someone who enjoys organising events and bringing people together to enjoy them
  • Interested in & with experience of digital and social media
  • Able to work with a small team and enjoy collaborating… apply now!

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | Subject: Young Curators | 500 words max

  • Tell us about yourself & any relevant experience
  • Why you would like to be selected for this exciting opportunity?
  • What areas of the arts / performance types are you interested in?
  • What social media do you use?
  • Anything else relevant to this project that you think we should know?

Deadline: Monday 29 March

NASC venue network:An Grianán, Letterkenny;Backstage Theatre, Longford;

Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise;glór, Ennis;Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick;

Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire;Siamsa Tíre, Tralee;Town Hall Theatre, Galway.

Dunamaise Arts Centre | Church Street, Portlaoise, Co. Laois| 057 866 3355 | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it /

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The Statues of Emo Court


A Poem & Short Film by Pat Boran

Dunamaise Arts Centre is proud to announce and release The Statues of Emo Court, a poem and short film by renowned poet Pat Boran. The film; which is a mindful reflection on the statues surrounding the beautiful grounds of Emo Court in County Laois; was commissioned by Dunamaise and funded by the Arts Council, and is now available to view on Pat Boran’s Youtube channel. 

Pat Boran, an award-winning Poet and member of Aosdána- the affiliation of creative artists in Ireland, who was born in Portlaoise, has held a number of esteemed positions within the world of literature and broadcasting and has published seven full-length collections of poetry. As Director of Dedalus Press for the past decade, he has edited a large number of poetry publications: more than a hundred books by fellow poets and close to a dozen significant anthologies of Irish writing, including the most recent in 2020 The Word Ark: A Pocket Book of Animal Poems, illustrated by Gaetano Tranchino, edited and prepared for press during lockdown.

Recently, Pat has been increasingly drawn to the possibilities presented by matching graphic forms with text, not only producing an ongoing series of PoemCards, but more recently exploring short poem-films. The Statues of Emo Court is another link in Pat’s exploration of poem-films and is the first of a series of films to be commissioned by Dunamaise Arts Centre.

“With lockdown and travel restrictions, we’ve all been seeing our local environments with fresh eyes, not just for what’s there in terms of amenities but for how they shape and make us what and who we are. We’re not all lucky enough to live close to a place as special as Emo Court (and indeed I now live about 60 km away and am currently prevented from visiting), but the alert eye can find meaning and consolation in the most unlikely of places”. That’s very much been the purpose of my recent work in making short poetry films, an activity I took up as a way to learn and do something new in these strange times”, Commented Pat. 

“I’ve been visiting Emo Court since I can remember and have always been drawn to its statues, watching over us, as it seems, while we go about our business. In times of fear and worry (and most of us have never known anything of this level before) one looks for a way to slow down the beating of the heart and the racing of the mind in order to cope, and the statues seem to offer an example in that respect, having survived wars, hardships of all kinds, virtual abandonment etc over the years. The poem is, in a way, a tribute to Emo Court, but its real subject is heritage in general, the purpose, meaning and value of artistic endeavour and its very real contribution to our lives”, he added.

Open Stage Residency Programme


(Latest Update: November 2020)

Open Stage Collage NEW 4 Nov

Open Stage Image a

Residency Programme | Development Days at Dunamaise

Dunamaise invites performing artists (across theatre, dance, music, multi-artform work)

& performing arts workers (writers, designers, production & technical crew) and all who create work for the stage, to apply for our new support initiative, offering mini-residencies from now until year end.

We want to support professional performers and performing arts workers in development of their practice OR in making new work OR in revival of a production for future performance and touring.

Whether you are at the initial stage of exploring ideas, ready to develop work, or wish to reignite previous work – we’re offering some space, support and caffeine to help!

Solo, Collaborations and Companies all welcome to apply.

The Offer:

  1. €2,500 towards development / remount
  2. 1 – 3 Days
  3. 1 or More Weeks
  • Fees ranging from €200 daily per person, up to a fee of €2,500* towards development of work.
  • Use of our Stage/Rehearsal Space/Writers Room/Recording Equipment for 1, 2 or 3 days over 1 or more weeks.** (from October – December 2020).
  • Technical support including access to equipment and expertise/personnel.
  • Audience connections, if your work is ready to share.

To Apply, tell us: Who you are | What you want to do here | What can we do to help?

Please send your CV/biog, a short outline of your proposal (c. 200 words) and a budget/preferred schedule as relevant***. State your preference, if any, for Offer 1/2/3 above, or if all are suitable for you. Let us know any date non-avails (if known)

TO This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by 10 October 2020.

* Further details may be requested for shortlisted applicants requesting the maximum award.

** Additional Free Stage Days with access to all in-kind supports may be made available depending on demand.

*** Even as simple as “2 people x 3 days over 3 weeks” helps us plan.


  • Recipients will be those whose proposal and practice we feel we can best support at this time, based on Dunamaise resources and dates available. Selection Panel will include a practicing Theatre Maker.
  • Participation in this initiative can begin immediately and run through December 2020.
  • Participants must agree to work under all Dunamaise Arts Centre Health & Safety and Covid 19 related Guidelines.

Dunamaise Arts Centre

Church Street Portlaoise, Co. Laois, Ireland.

Contact The Dunamaise Arts Centre

Box Office Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Friday: 10am to 5.30pm
Saturday: 10am to 1pm & 2pm to 5pm.
One hour prior to curtain on the evening of a performance.
Box office 00353 57 866 3355.

General Enquiries:

Our Sponsors

The Arts Council Laois County Council

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