Image shown: First Fortnight 2018

First Fortnight, Ireland’s annual arts and mental health festival, is taking place in January 2018 with more than 100 events across 17 counties throughout the month. Challenging mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action, the programme includes visual art, literature, spoken word, theatre, music, film, comedy, workshops and discussion. 

What to see, hear, do

Here are some of’s highlights!

Music / Spoken Word 

  • Therapy Sessions Dublin and Cork: An eclectic mix of music, poetry and spoken word, this long-running First Fortnight favourite returns to Dublin and take places in Cork for the first time. The Cork line up includes electro three-piece Wiggle, poet Tony Walsh and singer songwriters Míde Houlihan and Eoin O’Neill. The Dublin event is curated by All Tvvins and Delorentos featuring Irish and international acts. // Dublin: 5 & 12 January, Workmans Club. Cork: 13 January, De Barras, Clonakilty.
  • Jung, Symbols and Songs of the Soul (Leitrim): Jungian psychotherapist Brendan Harding, singer Eleanor Shanley and classical guitarist John Feeley present a performance that aims to give insight into the holistic philosophy of psychology pioneer Carl Jung and explores how symbols can have a healing effect. // 5 January, The Dock, Carrick on Shannon.
  • Flying South: Dublin’s first and only mental health themed arts and open mic night first opened its doors in March 2015. A moving showcase of performances united by a common theme of mental health expression, Flying South cultivates a safe space for people to share their
    experiences in an alcohol-free environment. // 14 January, Filmbase.
  • Sing Along Social: A zero commitment choir. There’s no need to practice, be a great singer, or even know the words. Just come down and sing along to your favourite tunes in a unique community atmosphere. // 14 January, MVP, Dublin 8
  • Ó Bhéal (Cork): Ó Bhéal is Cork city’s weekly poetry event. For one unique night Ó Bhéal have created a special show for First Fortnight, featuring Cormac Lally and Julie Goo, where each poet will explore their own life experiences which impacted on their mental health. // 8 January, The Hayloft


  • A Face in the Crowd and Open Doors: Follow the lived experiences of individuals who have come face to face with mental health challenges, and explores stories of darkness, hope, resilience and recovery. Produced in partnership by the HSE Mental Health Services and the Wexford and Carlow Mental Health Associations. A Face in the Crowd will be preceded by Open Doors, collectively created by members of the Youth Advisory Panel of Jigsaw North Fingal in collaboration with artist Miriam Needham. // 4 January, Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin
  • Lunatic, There I Go: The true story of Hanna Greally whose groundbreaking memoir Birds’ Nest Soup detailed the 18 years she was abandoned in St Loman’s psychiatric institution, Mullingar. Directed by Gill McCaw. Concept by Andrea Scott. // 2-6 January, Civic Theatre, Tallaght

Visual Art

  • The Public DiaryThe Public Diary began at First Fortnight 2017 as an interactive installation. Notebooks were installed in public toilets as a means of allowing people to externalise their interior thoughts within a safe space, free of judgment or fear. Through facilitating and now exhibiting this creative means of expression as a library of public entries, artist Milena Matejko aims to build connection, compassion and a sense of closeness to those around you. // 5-20 January, The Festival House, Temple Bar
  • heARTS & Minds: A new collaboration with the National Gallery of Ireland (NGI) developed for this year’s festival, key works in the National Collection, which address the subject of mental health, have been selected to inform a dedicated series of activities and encourage artworks and artists to be considered in a new light. This programme has been curated to include something for all ages and comprises both free and
    ticketed activities including a special trail of the selected artworks, guided tours, workshops, talks and more. // Events throughout January. See


  • Arts Taster Day: Facilitated by multilingual and multicultural therapists  to reach and engage a diverse group of people. Dance, music and colours will be used to overcome all barriers, including language! Arts Taster Day aims to enhance awareness about mental health and art benefits, by engaging all senses in mind and body feeding art activities. // 27 January, Draoicht Blanchardstown.


  • #InOurHourOfNeedWhat is the state of Ireland’s mental health services? How can you help? Mental Health Reform will join forces with A Lust For Life, the movement seeking to change the way we talk about mental health in Ireland, to discuss that very question. // 11 January, The Wood Quay Venue, Dublin
  • Conversation Salon (locations around the country): Conversation Salons are about bringing all different kinds of people together for uplifting conversation on a range of topics. There’s no pressure. In a relaxed café style setting over tea and coffee you can choose from a conversation menu of thought-provoking questions. Be inspired by the different ideas and opinions you hear. Hosted by Life Coach Heather Bourke. // 3-17 January, Dublin, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Mayo.

The full programme can be found HERE


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