Sinéad Sexton – Sligo

We are delighted to announce Performance Artist and Theatre Practitioner Sinéad Sexton as Culture Night Sligo County Ambassador for 2020!
Speaking ahead of Culture Night Sinéad (Zinéad) shares her thoughts on our 2020 programme.
“For the first time, alongside its thrilling array of physical events, Culture Night has expanded to also include online events. This expansion brings with it fresh and innovative ways to experience culture and arts in Sligo, and in turn presents artists with new ways to connect to the masses through the arts.”

Michael Gallen

Award-winning Irish composer, writer and performer, Michael Gallen grew up with traditional Irish music and folk song.  His work blends contemporary composition with musical language drawn from an Irish idiom. He is the Artistic Director of new opera company Straymaker.

Michael’s work has been performed by leading ensembles including the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Contempo Quartet, Opera Theatre Company, Crash Ensemble, Miroirs Étendus and Chamber Choir Ireland. He has been involved in several high-profile collaborations in dance and theatre, and recently toured Session, a piece made in collaboration with choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Colin Dunne, to major festivals and venues across Europe. His first large-scale opera, Elsewhere, is set to premiere in Ireland and internationally in 2021/22.

Michael is the lead singer with Irish band Ana Gog, and performs as a solo pianist and electronic music artist under the moniker Sudden Wells.

For Culture Night 2020, Michael will participate in a special performance at The Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan.


Irish artist with Sierra Leonean heritage, whose real name is Emma Garnett, is a future-afro soul vocalist, producer and multi-instrumentalist, on the frontline of an emerging Irish hiphop and electronic music scene. An eclectic songwriter who draws on her love of Wassoulou music in forging an entirely new take on electro-soul.

Known previously for lending her smooth vocals to the likes of Manden Express, RiZA, and Loah, and her collaborations with Ben Bix, Emma is joined by a star-studded lineup featuring members of the aforementioned bands Meltybrains?, Danny G & the Major 7ths, Tig Linn and more.

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For Culture Night 2020, Fehdah will participate in a special performance at VISUAL Carlow.

Mark Smith

Mark Smith is a performer and theatre-maker originally from Mulhussey, Co Meath who currently resides in Celbridge Co. Kildare where he is a member of inclusive theatre collective Run of the Mill Theatre. He studied Anthropology at Maynooth University and has worked part time at Tesco for almost 20 years. Mark recently collaborated with Run of the Mill,  Talking Shop Ensemble and writer Shaun Dunne to create Making a Mark, an autobiographical theatre piece that premiered at Dublin Fringe Festival 2019 with support from Axis Ballymun, Project Arts Centre and the Arts Council of Ireland. Making a Mark was nominated for 4 Fringe Awards (including Best Performer and Best Production) and won the Judges Choice Award at the festival. In 2018 Mark was awarded the Axis Ballymun & Arts and Disability Playground Bursary which he used to develop his practice in solo performance. Previous other credits include Singing for Survival (Draiocht, 2019) & Reason in Madness- A Devised Reworking of King Lear (Draiocht, 2016). He has made numerous television and radio appearances championing the work of artists with disabilities (The Tommy Tiernan Show, RTE Radio 1) Plans for a major national and international tour of Making a Mark is in the pipeline for 2021 following its postponement in 2020.

For Culture Night 2020, Mark will participate in a special online performance of Eavan Boland’s Quarantine, directed by Aisling Byrne and produced in association with Run of the Mill Theatre Company & Arcade Film.

Úna-Minh Kavanagh

Úna-Minh Kavanagh is a Gaeilgeoir and hails from Co. Kerry. She’s a journalist, author and multimedia content creator and published her book, ‘Anseo’ about growing up in Kerry, the Irish language, identity and racism in 2019. In 2017, Úna-Minh won the award for Social Activist of the Year with U Magazine for her initiative, ‘We Are Irish’ and now edits the good news website She’s a blogger and a live streamer who broadcasts in English and in the Irish language.

Úna-Minh Kavanagh will participate in ‘DIY Gaeilge: Crash course in the best online Irish language resources’, as part of Culture Night 2020.

The Gardiner Brothers

World Champion Irish Dancing Brothers Members of Riverdance.

Michael Gardiner started dancing in Denver, Colorado when he was 4 years old. At the age of 10, Michael and his family moved to Galway, Ireland and he, along with his older sister Anna and younger brother Matthew, joined the renowned Hession School. Michael went on to win every major including the All Irelands and World Championships, with a historic world title win in the same year as his brother Matthew. Michael has toured with the Kilfenora Ceili Band and is a member of the ‘Fusion Fighters’ and Trad on the Prom. Along with his younger brother Matthew, ‘The Gardiner Brothers’ preformed their famous ‘Smooth Criminal’ piece on Irelands biggest TV show, The Late Late Show this year. He loves choreographing new material and show pieces and has started teaching with the Hession School and Trinity Academy. Michael is an Architecture student at the University of Limerick and is an avid lover of trad music!

Matthew Gardiner was born in Denver, Colorado and began Irish dancing at the age of 3. He moved to Galway, Ireland when he was 7 years old and continued dancing under the Hession School of Irish Dance. During his competitive career he won 30 major championship titles, including 3 World championships. He and his brother Michael created Irish dancing history in 2015 by winning their respective World titles in the same year in Montreal. Matthew attended the Riverdance Summer school auditions in 2015 and completed his first show with Riverdance in 2017. Matthew is  studying Civil Engineering in National University of Ireland, Galway.   @matthewg_1099  @gardinerbrothers

The Gardiner Brothers will lead a free Irish dancing masterclass as part of Culture Night 2020. Book here.

Maeve Higgins

Cobh born writer, podcaster and comedian Maeve Higgins, who is currently based in New York in the US, will take part in Culture Night 2020 this year as its Inaugural International Trailblazer, representing the voice of Ireland’s cultural diaspora. This is the first year that Culture Night has ambitiously stepped out of Ireland to share the Irish cultural experience with those abroad. 

As part of Culture Night 2020, Maeve will participate in an online conversation with writer and journalist Caelainn Hogan, with additional insights from Bulelani Mfaco, spokesperson for the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland.

Saint Sister

Saint Sister are a duo from the North of Ireland. Since forming in 2014 they have quickly established themselves as one of the most talked about bands in Ireland. 2015’s ‘Madrid’ was a breakout success, playlisted on BBC Radio 1, RTE and across European radio, enabling them to tour extensively around Ireland, UK and mainland Europe.

Festival highlights at Glastonbury, Electric Picnic and Latitude and support slots with The National, Lisa Hannigan and Hozier have secured their reputation as a phenomenal live band. Critically acclaimed, they have won support from key tastemakers at NPR, The Guardian, The Independent (UK) and Billboard Magazine.

At home they were voted the “Best Irish Act” by the readers of The Irish Times, and nominated for the Choice Music Prize Song of the Year in 2016. Their debut album ‘Shape of Silence’ was released last October to rave reviews and they embarked on a 50 date world tour, across the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe to promote it. The band were nominated again for the 2018 Choice Music Prize, both for Song of the Year and Album of the Year. They returned to the USA in May for a month long tour with Henry Jamison.

“We’re very honoured to be representing Ulster as Culture Night trailblazers. Culture Night is an incredible opportunity for people to expose themselves to new sounds, new ideas and come away with a new perspective. The fact that such a special night is island-wide means a lot to us – we’ll be spending the night in Derry’s fair city”


Maser first started painting street art in Ireland in 1995 and quickly gained a reputation as one of Ireland’s most innovative visual artists.  He combines his unique typographic style, with photorealistic elements that convey an uplifting and socially conscious message.

Maser’s work conveys his love for his environment and the people that live there.  He was recently named one of the top seven Irish people to follow on Instagram by The Daily Edge, was named one of the 60 Most Creative People in Ireland by The Irish Times, and was named in Topman magazines as “The Talent That’s Shaping the City. “

Maser studied motion graphics, photography, print design, and typography at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.  In 2005 he graduated with distinction with a Bachelor of Arts in Design Communication.  Upon graduation Maser was awarded Membership of the International Society of Typographic Designers.  Maser has developed a style of work with a unique edge that fuses art and graphic design.

Since 1995 Maser has treated the world as his canvas leaving behind his artwork in places such as London, Paris, New York, Chicago, Florida, California, Australia, Uganda, Liberia, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Prague, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.  Maser has also painted extensively throughout Ireland for a variety of well-received exhibitions and art events.

Maser endeavors to highlight the positive aspects of street art, for example how it can enrich the cityscape and provide an outlet for young artists. His style is reflective of this, being both inspirational and socially conscious. His creative work carries a positive message, from the simple “Maser loves u” to the “Love yourself today” and his iconic “Don’t Be Afraid” inspired by nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney.

One of Maser’s biggest honors is his invitation by Tandem Press at the University of WisconsinMadison. Tandem Press is one of three professional presses affiliated with a University.  Maser created a limited edition print that was sold to collectors and galleries across the United States and hopes to return to carry out these projects.  In Spring 2014 Tandem Press invited Maser to be an artist in residence while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Culture Night is an exciting opportunity for people to navigate their way throughout the city, culturally, rather than geographically. As a contemporary artist with origins in Street Art, this idea resonates deeply with me. My creative practice continuously strives to bring the outside world – in, and human interaction plays a vital role in the work. As a Culture Night Trailblazer, I am hoping to further expand the artistic genres covered by this national event, to promote inclusion within the creative industry and to welcome visitors to my gallery Atelier Maser”


She has recently left people with ‘no words’ after teaching herself to play piano in just six months. Alma is from the Syrian capital Damascus. She has never taken a piano lesson before, but instead used YouTube videos to teach herself on a piano in the Mosney Accommodation Centre in Co. Meath.

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She has independently released five solo albums, the latest being The Dangerous Harpist. She has composed a wealth of music for the Theatre Circus. She has toured the comedy circuit and the world with her harp. The multi-instrumentalist accidentally fell into comedy when she won the Irish Musical Comedy Awards in 2012 and her first trip to Edinburgh festival earned her a nomination for the Malcolm Hardee award for Comic Originality. Follow her on Twitter.

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Irish singer/songwriter Mundy is one of a number of artists to successfully make the transition from street busking in Dublin to international stardom during the ’90s. Mundy’s mainly acoustic, folk-based pop/rock has been compared to Damien Rice and Josh Ritter; however, his style is more upbeat and celebratory than either, and his jangle pop influence and tendency to experiment with unconventional sonic textures and beats further distinguishes him.


She uses various mediums in her work including performance, sculpture, film, drawing and installation work. Her work has been displayed in museums and contemporary art centres across the globe. Aideen delves into visual trickery to create a heightened suspension of reality through her work, which she has stated is to help deal with her anxiety. Check out Aideen’s work on her website or follow her Twitter @AideenBarry.

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His book Motherfoclóir: Dispatches from a not so dead language won the Ireland AM Popular Non-Fiction award in 2017. Motherfoclóir takes a very witty and pun-filled approach to the Irish language, while included Darach’s personal stories of his relationship with the language. Darach has a growing Twitter account called @theirishfor where he tweets humorous and witty ‘translations’ as Gaeilge. He is the host of the podcast Motherfoclóir, featured in the Headstuff Podcast Network.

Follow Darach on Twitter @darachos or check out Motherfoclóir.

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