Nuacht | 09 Meitheamh 2021

Zooming with The National Neighbourhood in 2021

Zooming with The National Neighbourhood in 2021
  • Roinn

The National Neighbourhood programme is for anyone who calls Dublin home, and would like to explore culture and connect to communities, groups, artists, museums, libraries and creative places across the city.

Through one of our exploratory 8 - 12 week projects, participants are invited to try something new by talking, sharing, learning, making and doing. At the end of the project, we hope to help people identify their next creative or cultural steps, whether that is through developing a project idea with us, engaging in one of our other programmes, or using new connections to the city’s cultural resources to continue their own adventure.

Maureen Murray was a participant on a recent 12-week project and below she tells us all about boarding The National Neighbourhood tour bus.

If you’d like to start your own cultural adventure, you can find out more about The National Neighbourhood here.

All aboard

I love my city but the events of the last year have kept me from exploring it in person. So the idea of The National Neighbourhood sounded interesting but I couldn’t imagine how it would work, being conducted over Zoom.

Well, I needn’t have worried - what a revelation it turned out to be! We all hopped aboard the Dublin Zoom Tour Bus. With Evan, our facilitator in the driving seat, and Ciara, our artistic guide, our group of 19 enthusiastic travellers (from both Ireland and as far afield as Ecuador) virtually visited places we thought we knew and were introduced to places in the city we had only read about.

Our virtual tours each week included art galleries, the National Archives, the Abbey Theatre, 14 Henrietta Street, and even a discussion about a book with a real-life author, Rónán Hession. The guides at each venue were so generous with their time and information which meant we all had fun while exploring.

As part of the learning process we looked at many paintings, like this one (shown in the main picture above) by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, from 1591. He used several fruits, vegetables and flowers to create a portrait of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. For that National Neighbourhood session, we had to recreate a painting as an image to fill our computer screens over Zoom. As you can see below, it gave us some very funny and interesting results!

Each Zoom visit only lasted an hour and a quarter but we were treated to anecdotes and stories from the streets of the city, shown how to understand and appreciate art, had group chats and laughs, and even dressed up for occasions.

We all looked forward to that hour and a quarter each week, and we all learned how to take our time and just appreciate all that’s to be seen in our neighbourhood.


Retired from the world of banking but not from life, Maureen Murray (or Mo to her friends) has an interest in theatre, music and heritage crafts. Lifelong learning is her mantra for a happy life and she fills hers with both learning and teaching. She’s a firm believer that we should never underestimate the power of the “elder lemon”!