Sligo Library, in association with Sligo Stoker Society, is welcoming Dacre Stoker to Sligo town on Wednesday 23rd October, 2019, at 6.30pm. This is a free event and all are welcome. Dacre is the great grandnephew of Bram Stoker. He will read selected passages from Dracul the book he co-authored with JD Barker, the origin story of Bram Stoker writing Dracula.
Q&A with Dr. Fiona Gallagher (Local historian and author of Streets of Sligo).
Music with Niamh Crowley and Anna Houston
Sligo Stoker Society, a voluntary society with a focus on historical research, aim to launch signage (outlining the Sligo/Dracula historical connection) to coincide with Dacre’s visit. The signage was funded by Sligo County Council C&V Heritage grants scheme and Sligo LEADER partnership. More details to follow.
Thanks to a collaboration between Sligo Stoker Society and GMIT Letterfrack, we were allowed the use of lanterns designed by students of the renowned college as part of this year’s conference. Since 2011, first year students have designed pieces for the annual ‘After the Light’ night parade which takes place as part of Connemara Sea Week in the village at Halloween. GMIT lecturer, Geraldine O’Brien along with Tommy and Peter Casby (both Macnas artists) and Leo Hallissey (director of Connemara Environmental, Educational and Cultural Centre), work with students to create socially engaged art. Using a combination of found and biodegradable materials, students have worked to create lanterns and light installations.
Below: After the Light at Letterfrack, 2018.
In 2018 the Sligo Stoker Society approached the creative team and asked if they would be interested in collaborating for the ‘How Sligo Shaped Dracula’ day. This would ensure a ‘second’ outing for students’ projects in the post Halloween period. Taking place on 10 November, this conference in the Canis Major Gothic revival church was the perfect backdrop for the re-use of student decorations from ‘After the Light’. Alongside the usual brief, students were invited to consider Dracula or Gothic revival themes for their project outputs. Dr Marion McGarry (GMIT lecturer, art historian and member of Sligo Stoker Society) provided an additional brief with a lecture on nineteenth century Gothic revival design for students which featured the origins of the novel Dracula.
Some students included abstract representations of the Gothic in the work, while others took imagery directly from the novel. An example of the latter is Sligo student Maighréad Bussmann’s ‘bat’, whose red eyes, she says were inspired by Dracula. Its wings move realistically, and its bone structure was lit to give it a skeletal appearance in the dark. This installation took pride of place near the lectern at our conference alongside other students’ lanterns, which featured crucifixes, church motifs, gothic revival fretwork detailing and other appropriate decoration. Students’ work also featured in the Sligo Dracula Society window display in the offices of Failte Ireland in Sligo. We were delighted to work with GMIT Letterfrack this year and thankful to them for the partnership.
Our conference took place on 10th November 2018 and was a success. It offered a fascinating insight into Sligo's connections with one of the greatest Gothic novels and was covered across national and international media. It was also the first time Charlotte Thornley Stoker's journal of Sligo's cholera epidemic was read aloud publicly in the town. A big thank you to all who came along and / or supported our ‘How Sligo Shaped Dracula’ day.
Without the support of Sligo County Council and Creative Ireland the event would not have gone ahead this year so our sincere thanks to them for sponsorship. We would also like to thank Sligo BID and Lough Gill Brewery for their support and sponsorship also.
Special thanks to the Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Cllr. Martin Baker who formally launched the event.
Also to Galway Mayo Institute of Technology Letterfrack, whose first year design students loaned us lanterns they had designed with a Dracula theme in mind. These provided fitting decoration to the Gothic revival Canis Major church at the Clayton hotel where the conference was held. Thanks too, to the staff at the Clayton Hotel Sligo who were so helpful.
We’d especially like to thank Brid Torrades who had the imagination and generosity to get on board with the idea of the Dracula Dinner at Osta restaurant and to James Ward of Lough Gill Brewing who created a Dracula beer exclusively for the event.
Other businesses (we name them all in a recent blogpost here https://sligobramstoker.weebly.com/events--happenings/local-businesses) created their own take on the Sligo Dracula story which we hoped helped promote our conference and generate some business for them. By engaging with the business community, we hoped to educate them on the true connection to Sligo of the Dracula story. There was not one business owner we engaged with that was not fascinated with the history and the themes the incorporated into their businesses for the weekend took on board the history with great enthusiasm. One example of this is the whiskey and ginger cocktails created by Blind Tiger for the weekend. These were a nod to the fact that at the height of the epidemic, Sligo townspeople drank whiskey mixed with ginger in the belief it staved off cholera. This was a wonderful display of the business owner’s willingness to look beyond Count Dracula and created something based on actual history.
Sligo's history: 'We can't commemorate what we do not know'
It has become apparent that many are unaware of the full extent and significance of this history and this is what the Sligo Bram Stoker / Dracula society want to make people conscious of. In doing so we hope to commemorate the events of 1832 and potentially make Sligo a credible ‘Dracula destination’ for visitors.
Each November, a dead time of year in the tourism calendar, Dracula themed events would no doubt create a buzz for businesses, one that is authentic and seeks to go beyond the cliché of capes and vampire teeth and burrows down into our rich ‘dark’ local history. This is essential in growing the knowledge and pride Sligo people will take in the town’s connection to Dracula. We cannot celebrate or commemorate what we do not know.
Going forward Sligo Bram Stoker / Dracula society will plan more such events and educate people along the way. Our aim is to publish conference proceedings and provide educational public displays charting Sligo’s links to Dracula. Yet our ultimate aim is to have a public memorial, centrally located in the town, to the victims of Sligo’s cholera epidemic of 1832 (estimated at 1,500 people). They, and the terrible events that lead to their deaths, along with the connections to the novel Dracula, deserve to be commemorated respectfully.
Continue to follow us on social media for updates and if you are a business willing to offer sponsorship, or a person wishing to volunteer, please do not hesitate to get in touch email@example.com
Our wonderful local craft brewer Lough Gill Brewery has produced this 'Sligo Dracula 1832' brew! It is a limited edition to honour our conference 'How Sligo Shaped Dracula' and exclusive to Osta Restaurant for their 1832 Dracula Dinner.
Sligo's award winning Osta cafe and wine bar, in conjunction with the first 'How Sligo Shaped Dracula: conference', proudly hosts a unique and one-off 'Dracula Dinner 1832'.
Romanian chef Elena Gheghici will prepare a delicious menu inspired by the writings of Bram Stoker - Elena was recently interviewed on RTE's Radio 1's Business Show about this event. Starting at 7.30pm guests will enjoy complimentary cocktail on arrival followed by a three course menu. There will also be a monologue performance by actor Treasa Nealon based on the experiences of Bram's mother, Charlotte Thornley of Sligo in 1832. These events are said to have inspired the novel Dracula. This will be a unique and atmospheric evening not to be missed, overlooking the Garavogue river.
Saturday 10th November, 2018 from 7.30pm, tickets are limited.
See Eventbrite for tickets (€34):
Listen Back to Elena's interview on RTE Radio 1's The Business Show:
The Dracula 'Undead' tour is a special one-off tour to mark the 'How Sligo Shaped Dracula' conference. To add to the atmosphere, the tour takes place after dark.
On the tour discover Sligo’s connection to Bram Stoker, the Irish author, best known for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula. Hear how stories of the cholera epidemic inspired Stoker in his writing and visit the key locations connected to his mother Charlotte Thornley Stoker. Expect to hear tales of real life horror, mass death and mass terror which took place on Sligo's streets in 1832 that inspired a literary legend. It promises to be a feat of Dark Tourism in Sligo!
Date: Friday Evening 9th November 2018
Time: 7 pm to 8.30 pm
Tour duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Meeting point: Outside the Riverside Hotel, Sligo
FIND TICKETS ON EVENTBRITE HERE:
Beforehand, why not drop by award wining Hooked restaurant for a specially themed 'light bites' supper and after the tour go to the Blind Tiger cocktail bar for some Sligo/Dracula themed cocktails? Both venues face each other across the Garavogue river in the centre of town.
We're delighted that so many local businesses in Sligo got involved and helped to promote our 2018 conference. By engaging with our members, local business owners and their staff built on their knowledge of 'How Sligo Shaped Dracula', learning the exact details of the Sligo/Dracula connection. It is hoped they can then pass on this knowledge to customers and visitors.
Some local businesses came up with a 'special' or theme to tie in with our conference and came up with imaginative ways of getting their products and services involved. Sligo Dracula Society made a poster available to all businesses with a blank space to write their 'specials' in and offered to promote the business on their social media streams.
It was a reciprocal arrangement: we enhanced our core mission (educating the public about the Sligo/Dracula connection) while businesses got their products promoted. Our conference featured on national media - in a business context was notably mentioned in a Sunday Business Post magazine feature and on RTE Radio's Sunday Business Show.
While Osta restaurant and Lough Gill Brewery were notable (their Dracula Dinner and Beer were a great success), other collaborations abounded. These included Fabio's Ice Cream (wine Street and Quayside) who created a 'Dracula' special flavour of Blood Orange and Beetroot. Heart's Desire coffee shop (Stephen Street) created a special black latte for Dracula. Hooked restaurant (Rockwood Parade) had two specials: a Dracula meat platter and a 'chicken wings / glass of wine special' (in the novel Dracula Johnathon Harker feasts on chicken with red wine). The Blind Tiger cocktail bar (Stephen Street): created Whiskey and Ginger cocktails (during Sligo's cholera epidemic that inspired parts of Dracula, locals drank whiskey and ginger in the belief it offered protection from the disease). We were delighted with these creative and authentic responses!
Other businesses got into the spirit of things with window displays (Liber advertised 10% off all Dracula books) and, brilliantly, a real coffin was displayed in the Swagman bar. Others helped us by displaying our posters and flyers.
These are just small beginnings in creating a Dracula buzz in Sligo and 'owning' our history and literary heritage. Eventually we aim to make Sligo a credible Dracula destination, but we cannot do so without your support! If you are a business and would like to get on board next year in terms of sponsorship, do not hesitate to contact us at this email: firstname.lastname@example.org