Big House Festival Showcases Hidden Treasures from Irish Film Institute

Film and visual art lovers are in for a real treat this August Bank Holiday weekend, as the Irish Film Institute, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and many other talented artists showcase their work at Ireland’s only palace, Castletown House, as part of the inaugural Big House Festival which runs from Saturday 3rd to Monday 5th August at Castletown House, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

Big House Festival is a cultural carnival of ‘Musical Adventures, Theatrical Treats & Hidden Gems’ where every part of the majestic Castletown House, woodlands, meadows and estate will be programmed with arts, music, film and entertainment.  Full day tickets are now available from only €22.50 with great family value tickets on sale for just €45. Book your tickets now and avail of the advance booking discounts at

The Big House Festival is delighted to be working with the Irish Film Institute to present treasures from the national film archives, including Raj in the Rain and Celbridge Miscellany.  Raj in the Rain is an affectionate, insightful and frequently bizarre portrait of a dwindling tribe – the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy. For centuries, the landed gentry lead privileged lives in palatial mansions on vast rambling estates. Following Ireland’s independence, the community entered a period of decline, estates were broken up and today fewer than 30 families occupy their original estates.

Filmed over ten years, this documentary presents a kaleidoscope of snapshots of this almost extinct tribe and offers access to a rarefied world and its eccentric inhabitants. Featured among them are: Sir John Leslie, 96-year-old night-clubber of Castle Leslie; Olivia Durdin-Robertson of Huntington Castle, member of the Temple of Isis; Mark Bence Jones of Glenville, Co. Cork chronicler of his peers and Josslyn Gore Booth as he leaves his Sligo home in Lissadell.

History enthusiasts will love The IFI Celbridge Miscellany, a special programme of screenings for the Big House Festival including a montage of extracts from films preserved in the IFI Film Archive which were made in Celbridge and its environs from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Something truly special and unique is Garden Folly by Rhona Byrne, presented by The Irish Museum of Modern Art. This visual art installation invites people of all ages to construct and re-construct their own spatial environments to create shelters, dens and follies, and to work with others to make a large scale installation which can be entered and explored as a shared space. Located in the gardens to the rear of Castletown House, participants can contribute to this ever evolving installation that opens up a potential infinite series of variations to be inhabited and explored.

Other film and visual arts highlights include; The Paper Ball directed and created by Dublin-based artist Oisín Byrne and filmed by cinematographer Andrew Legge.  Filmed on the steps of Castletown House and featuring over 100 performers, The Paper Ball will have its first outing at the Big House Festival.  Print Screen by Evan Flynn is a multimedia installation combining video, photos, graphics and projection inspired by the famous Print Room in Castletown House.  Combining the aesthetic concerns of the original print room creators with modern techniques, this installation attempts to find the constants between visual creation 300 years ago and today.

And Exit by Astrid Walsh, explores the memory of a big house like Castletown, and the people who have visited it through its 300 years.  Projections often act as memories or traces of past events and they co-exist with the present in a ghostly way. In this case the projection is also a nod to the future and the ultimate un-known that is death, for we are all just passing through.

Big House Festival is the antidote to the standard summer festival offering. Visitors come along at lunchtime and stay until last light at what is Ireland’s first site-specific arts festival. From ages 1-100yrs  there is something for everyone. Enjoy tea-time theatrics or dance in the colonnades, picnic on the lawn, as an opera plays out before you.

Big House Festival is the brainchild of The Performance Corporation, Ireland’s award-winning site-specific theatre company, based at Castletown House.

Dublin Bus is official festival partner and will schedule additional buses on Route 67 for festival goers during the weekend. Route 67 has a stop at the gates of Castletown House. If driving, Castletown House is only 20 mins drive from Dublin. For transport options, directions and full programme details log onto