Salon Series

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“Words are events, they do things, change things. They transform both speaker and hearer; they feed energy back and forth and amplify it. They feed understanding or emotion back and forth and amplify it.”
— Ursula K. Le Guin

Salons are synonymous as hotbeds of creativity and progressive ideas during the French Enlightenment. Curious people gathered under the private roof of an inspiring host or salonnière. As we are in the business of curiosity and enlightenment at The Trailblazery we decided to embrace the essence of salon culture and embark on a conversational tour of Ireland. The old Latin root of conversation is conversatia, meaning a kind of “living with” or “in companionship” with. Our Salon Series was born from a desire to celebrate the endangered art of human conversation and the exchange of trailblazing ideas. We have hosted authors, poets, activists, philosophers, artists, psychiatrists, archivists, folklorists, academics, sailors, performers and musicians from all over the world.


A shadow on the Irish psyche :: The Statutes of Kilkenny

Kilkenny Arts Festival 2016

The Anglo-Irish parliament met in Kilkenny 650 years ago and produced a body of royal decrees that became known as the Statutes of Kilkenny. These Statutes represent a key moment in the colonial project and foreshadowed the continuously troubled relationship between England and Ireland in the following centuries.

In 1366 many of the Anglo-Normans who lived in Ireland had become ipsis Hibernicis Hiberniores - “more Irish than the Irish”. The statutes aimed to prevent the colonists from adopting Irish culture and mandated that the Irish conform to English customs before they could obtain certain social, legal, and religious rights.  The laws prohibited the Brehon Laws, the native Irish language and social interactions between the Anglo­ Normans and the Irish including music, storytelling and even hurling.

This conversation looks back to 1366 to trace the imprint of these laws on the Irish psyche today. Ivor Browne, Manchán Magan, Catriona Crowe and Kathy Scott explore the impact and legacy of postcolonial trauma on the human soul.


The Witching Hour - a conversation exploring the pull of the Otherworld; 

 Clonmel, Co. Tipperary 2016

In Celtic mythology, the Otherworld is the realm of the dead and the home of the deities and other powerful spirits. We want to cast some light on the shadowy realms that have inhabited the psyche through story, music, performance and conversation. This event was inspired by the local story of Bridget Cleary -“the last witch burned in Ireland” immortalised in a children’s rhyme: “Are you a witch or are you a fairy, Or are you the wife of Michael Cleary?”. Join Angela Bourke author of The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story, artist Alice Maher and Manchán Magan in conversation about the role of folklore and superstition in the rural Irish tradition and whether the belief in the existence of a parallel fairy world still influences the Irish imagination today. We will be joined by musical guests Linda Buckley and Laura Sheeran.

Stories from the Sea

Sounds from a Safe Harbour 2015

Stories from the Sea brings together a collection of artists & pioneers whose imagination and practice has been inspired by the power of the sea. Drawing on ancient myth, folklore and creative spirit this seafaring voyage charts how the sea has shaped our cultural psyche as islanders situated on the edge of Europe and the great beyond. Stories from the Sea features conversations, reading, film and live music from a host explorers all influenced by the pull of the deep. Guests included including Theo Dorgan, Padraig Ó Duinnín, Dr Clíona O’Carroll, Linda Buckley and Roisin Coyle, with musical performance from  Jófríður Ákadóttir

When Ireland met Iceland

Culture Night The Royal Irish Academy of Music 2013

The Trailblazery made a special pop up appearance on Culture Night with an evening of words and music from Iceland and Ireland at The Royal Irish Academy of Music. We were beyond thrilled to host one of Iceland’s most provocative cultural voices Andri Snær Magnason – author of Dreamland, LoveStar, The Story of the Blue Planet, Bonus Poetry and celestial songstress Nina Hynes and some other special guests.


A Wildean Salon on Merrion Square

Merrion Square Dublin 2012

The Trailblazery presented a Wildean Salon at The Royal Society of Antiquaries, inspired by the life and times of Oscar Wilde and his extraordinary family who resided on Merrion Square. The Wilde home was a unique cultural milieu and Lady Wilde hosted an infamous Saturday afternoon salon that included such illuminating guests as Sheridan le Fanu, Bram Stroker and Issac Butt. This cultural gathering set out to investigate Oscar Wilde’s artistic legacy, excavate the social history of this celebrated pocket of Georgian Dublin and explore the potential influences of the ideas of the time on the world we live in today. Speakers include Manchán Magan (Global Nomad), Una Mullally (Writer & Broadcaster), Lynne Parker (Rough Magic Theatre Company) Noeline Kavanagh (Artistic Director Macnas) Matthew Smyth (Founder of the Trinity Wilde Festival) Olwen Fouéré  (Actor/Performer) and Maria Doyle Kennedy (Performer)