First Fortnight, Ireland’s annual arts and mental health festival, is back in January 2016 challenging mental health stigma with a jam-packed programme of music, theatre, comedy, dance, spoken word, discussion events and lots more. The festival, running from 1-16 January, kicks off with Proclamation in Christ Church Cathedral where some of Ireland’s best-known faces proclaim their vision of how to improve our collective mental wellbeing as Ireland marks its past by looking to the future. 

What to see, hear, do 

There are nearly 30 events taking place in Dublin and across the country. Here are some of’s highlights!

Music / Spoken Word 

  • Flying South: Dublin’s first and only mental health themed arts and open mic night has been a monthly fixture since it first opened its doors in March 2015. Expect insightful and moving performers and an opportunity to sign up for some live mic action on the night. // 1 January, Filmbase.
  • Co-Motion: There’s nothing like a go-to song when you’re feeling down. Well, how about sharing your feelgood songs with a stranger? Each participant will be asked to make a short playlist of the songs they turn to when in need of a pick-up. They’ll then be assigned a walking partner and a pair of headphone splitters before being sent off on a stroll. // 3 & 10 January, Dublin.
  • It Made You: With thumbs up from Hot Press magazine, the first album of original songs by songwriters of St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services is getting the live treatment. Produced in collaboration with Sean ‘Doctor’ Millar, It Made You showcases songs of love, loss, strength and recovery. The concert will feature some very special guest performers. // 9 January , St. Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin
  • Therapy Sessions: A long running First Fortnight highlight, this year’s Therapy Sessions include singer Jennifer Evans, folk duo Saint Sister, poet Dee Campbell, poet-busker Stephen Clare, spoken word artists Molly Case, Ryan Mangan, Lewis Kenny, Richard Brennan and Nicole Eve Rourke, and more musical guests to be announced. // 8 & 15 January, The Workman’s Club, Dublin


  • Stories from the Front: The personal stories of people who have experienced mental health problems, carers and mental health professionals come together in this interactive theatre piece. Audience participation is encouraged in this creative journey of hope and inspiration. // 12 January, Set Theatre, Langton’s, Kilkenny
  • Write Your Mind: In the summer of 2015 Jigsaw Offaly invited young writers aged 12 to 25 to submit stories or theatrical monologues on the topic of living with mental health issues. Following mentorship from Playwright Eugene O’ Brien, six writers showcase the resulting work in this new theatrical piece produced in partnership with Offaly Youth Theatre. // 14 January, Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise


  • Alison Spittle Discovers HawaiiYou know that memory that stings? The one that will keep you awake that extra five minutes before you sleep? Alison has loads of them, but she’s found a way around it. Join her as she discovers Hawaii … Alison Spittle tackles her biggest fears and regrets in an hour of personal stand up. // 14-16 January, Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin


  • Shared Remedies: A dance evening exploring relationships, aesthetic ideals and healing. // 14 January, Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray.


  • Hello Myself: Inside Out children’s workshop: Exploring themes from Pixar’s rather wonderful 2015 release, storyteller and artist Paul Timoney will facilitate three workshops for children aged 6-12. The workshop is designed to encourage children to learn to express themselves verbally or through creative means. // 1 January (12.00, 14.00, 16.00), Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin


  • If Elected: A public debate chaired by broadcaster John Bowman in which representatives from all political parties tell us where they stand on mental health. // 13 January, Wood Quay Venue, Dublin

The full programme and booking information can be found at

Founded in 2009, First Fortnight is also a mental health service provider and runs the First Fortnight Centre for Creative Therapies. The centre currently employs two creative arts therapists providing art psychotherapy for individuals experiencing homelessness and mental ill-health in Dublin.


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