The Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center presents IRELAND 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture


About the Festival

May 17–June 5, 2016, the Kennedy Center presents IRELAND 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture, a major festival highlighting Irish culture and its relationship to America. Curated by Alicia Adams, Vice President of International Programming and Dance, and featuring Artist-in-Residence Fiona Shaw, the festival includes dozens of performances from some of Ireland's best contemporary musicians, dancers, and theater companies - along with several other exciting events ranging from a literature series, documentary screenings, installations, culinary arts, a redhead/family day, and much more.

The festival is part of the global celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which led to Ireland's independence, and the centerpiece of the commemorative events in the United States. As America's national cultural center, the Kennedy Center is also a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, the most well-known Irish American President and the first sitting American President to visit Ireland.

Curator Notes

The United States and Ireland share a special relationship based on common ancestral ties and shared values. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts bears the name of our 35th President, who is especially revered by Ireland as a favorite son.

This year, the Kennedy Center participates in a global salute to Ireland's 100-year anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The Kennedy Center's IRELAND 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture festival is the centerpiece of commemorative events in the United States, bringing to Washington some of Ireland's best music, theater, dance, literature, food, and drink.

One of the most acclaimed Irish actors and directors of our time, Fiona Shaw, will be Artist-in-Residence for the three-week festival, performing and conducting workshops with aspiring actors as well as directing the opening event on May 17. Among the festival's theater offerings are works by great Irish playwrights Seán O'Casey (The Plough and the Stars) and Samuel Beckett (the radio play All That Fall), an adaptation from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake performed by celebrated actor Olwen Fouéré (riverrun), and a performance installation by Tony Award® winner Enda Walsh (A Girl's Bedroom).

Participating musical artists include much-loved "trad" group The Gloaming, the groundbreaking ensemble Alarm Will Sound performing music by award-winning composer Donnacha Dennehy (The Hunger), Belfast's renowned Camerata Ireland led by Barry Douglas, and the Kennedy Center's own National Symphony Orchestra in an all-Irish opening program, which will feature works by Irish composers including Bill Whelan (Riverdance) and others. Contemporary dance will be represented on stage by two of the best known choreographers/dancers, Jean Butler and Colin Dunne.

The glory of Irish literature is recognized across the globe. The festival's literature series offers a wide-ranging set of panels featuring more than 20 writers including Colum McCann, Paul Muldoon, and Colm Tóibín, among others.

The IRELAND 100 festival will also launch the Kennedy Center's year-long centennial celebration of President Kennedy with three exciting programs: performances of selected plays from a nationwide playwriting challenge on his legacy (Tiny Plays for Ireland and America), documentary screenings of his visit to Ireland, and a multidisciplinary and intergenerational program, Celebrating the Past to Awaken the Future.

With the participation of some 500 artists, more than 30 productions, and dozens of free events and installations, IRELAND 100 will be an extraordinary celebration of a century and beyond of Irish arts and culture. We are grateful to the Embassy of Ireland in Washington, D.C., and Culture Ireland for providing essential support and guidance for the festival.

Join us to celebrate and imagine Eire!

Alicia Adam Signature

Alicia Adams

Vice President, International Programming and Dance

Festival Curator

Alicia Adam Curator Notes

Festival Credits



David M. Rubenstein


Deborah F. Rutter


Vice President, International Programming and Dance
Festival Curator

Alicia Adams

Director, International Programming
Festival Co-Curator and Manager

Gilda Almeida

Installations Design Consultant

Studio Adrien Gardère
Adrien Gardère
Mathieu Muin

Installations Production

Mickey Berra, Vice President
Glenn Turner, Head of Production Operation

Literature Series Curator

Maureen Kennelly
Director, Poetry Ireland

Documentaries Film Consultant

Sunniva O'Flynn
Irish Film Institute

Festival Opening Performance Consultant

Robert Pullen, NOUVEAU productions

Guest Culinary advisor

Chef Cathal Armstrong

Festival Logo Design

Ivor Noyek

Festival Assistants

Annette Dumas, Sara Ross


Embassy of Ireland
Culture Ireland
Poetry Ireland
Irish Arts Center
Irish Design 2015
The O’Brien Collection
Design & Crafts Council of Ireland
Irish Film Institute
Bord Bia—Irish Food Board

Special thanks to the Kennedy Center staff and volunteers involved in the realization of this festival!

IRELAND 100 Festival  Credits John Egan, Portable Harp, c1820
The O'Brien Collection
Photography: Jamie Stuckenberg

All dates, artists, programs, and prices are subject to change.