‘The Awakening’ promises an antidote to winter

A three-day event at Rathmullan House this weekend has been described as an antidote to the winter doldrums, bringing together lively and irreverent discussion on Ireland’s future, and a winter Snowball that blends a three-course meal with an evening of contemporary cabaret.

A three-day event at Rathmullan House this weekend has been described as an antidote to the winter doldrums, bringing together lively and irreverent discussion on Ireland’s future, and a winter Snowball that blends a three-course meal with an evening of contemporary cabaret.

“Normally January is a tough month for people, and the idea was to have something to look forward to at the very end of January, beginning of February,” said Maeve Sweeney, project coordinator for The Awakening, the Earagail Arts Festival event at Rathmullan House Hotel this weekend.

The varied weekend programme will include discussions involving economist David McWilliams; historian Diarmaid Ferriter; Pearse Doherty, Sinn Fein TD; Letterkenny businesswoman and reality TV star Joanne Sweeney-Burke; author and executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O’Gorman; and journalist Orla Tinsley.

Saturday night’s Snowball, a centrepiece of the weekend, will feature a three-course winter menu of seasonal cuisine and an evening of cabaret with Little John Nee as master of ceremonies.

The Awakening “is a great opportunity to meet interesting and interested people, and just kick off the winter blues and start afresh for the year ahead,” Maeve said. “It’s a winter feast of the senses.”

The Awakening kicks off at Rathmullan House this Friday evening, 9 pm, Feb. 3rd, at the Cellar Bar, with a free performance from the Donegal band, In Their Thousands, and continues with events through Saturday and Sunday. Tickets to Awakening events are available separately, though Rathmullan House Hotel are also offering an all-in Awakening weekend package, with two nights B&B and tickets to all events at €185 per person.

The Leviathan Political Cabaret comes to the Awakening on Saturday, Feb. 4th, with the discussion, “2016: Reinventing the Republic”. Emcee David McWilliams will speak with Diarmaid Ferriter, Joanne Sweeney Burke and others on the future of the country. The panel will be followed by a one-on-one discussion from 2.30 to 4 pm, between David McWilliams and Pearse Doherty. Tickets for the discussions are €10 each.

“Enjoy the surroundings, enjoy the food, listen to some very interesting ideas,” Maeve said. “It’s an idea-driven event: Where do we go from here?”

But she added, “It’s very much a positive event, about seeing Ireland positively.”

Tickets for Saturday night’s Snowball are €45 and include the three-course dinner and the Little John Knee-hosted cabaret, featuring performances from Foyle Follies of Derry, followed by dancing to Balkan Alien Sound.

“The Snowball is purely for fun,” Maeve said. “It’s a nice chance to dress up in the fanciest dress you own, the dress you never get to wear anymore.

“It’s all so intimate as well,” she added. There are 120 tickets available to the Snowball, and half were already sold earlier this week, she said.

“So it’s not a massive event,” Maeve said. “It’s a lovely event.”

The Awakening concludes at 12 noon on Sunday, Feb. 5th, when Late, Late Show bandleader Paddy Cullivan, also known as Clint Velour, will take an irreverent look at the news in the free session called, “What’s in the Papers”.

Book individual Awakening events through the An Grianán Theatre box office, 074 9120777. To book accommodation or weekend packages, contact Rathmullan House at 074 9158188.

For more information on The Awakening, contact the Earagail Arts Festival at 074 9168800 or visit the web site, www.eaf.ie.