New service launching to connect older people interested in arts and culture

Anyone for Tea & Ballet? Sisters Pam Byrne and Carmel Sullivan, and ballerina Lydia Punch, announce the launch of Cork Cultural Companions. Pic: Miki Barlok

Older people in West Cork are being encouraged to engage with the vibrant local arts and cultural scene when events return, and virtually for now, with the official launch of Cork Cultural Companions, next week, on March 9.  

Anyone over 55 can sign up to be part of this local network of people with shared interests in arts, heritage and culture who want to attend events with like-minded new friends. 

 An initiative of Age and Opportunity, Cork Cultural Companions particularly aims to address the issue of social isolation amongst older people by also providing volunteer companions for encouragement and support at live events.

Original plans to launch in April 2020 had to be postponed and revised in light of Covid-19 restrictions. Cork Cultural Companions will now launch virtually on March 9 with the rollout of a varied series of its own online events and activities run in conjunction with cultural venues and organisations, until live events return.  

Speaking ahead of the launch, Cork Cultural Companions co-ordinator Barbara Quinn, said, “Many of us would probably go to a lot more plays, films, shows, concerts, exhibitions, or other events if we had someone to go with. There is a thriving social and arts scene out there to be enjoyed if only we had someone with the know-how or simply the shared interest to get us going. That is where Cultural Companions comes in. The project will set up local networks of people interested in arts and culture that will accompany each other to events when they are permitted and encourage each other to connect with and engage in online cultural events and activities for now. 

“Unfortunately, we can’t currently meet in person, so we have adapted our approach this year to ensure we still provide opportunities for older people to connect with arts, culture and friends virtually.  It has never been more important to have these connections with the outside world and to have something to look forward to.

“Our varied series of online cultural events will be announced at our launch next week. I would encourage anyone interested in reigniting their love of arts and culture, or those who just want to enjoy new experiences and make new friends, to register to hear more about becoming a member.”  

Cork Cultural Companions not only connects you with others interested in arts and culture, but it also keeps you up to date on what’s happening in your area. Once you become a member, which is free and no obligation, you will receive regular updates regarding various websites, podcasts and social media links to theatre performances, music, literature, poetry, dance, and local interest items.  And when live events begin to happen again, you will have the opportunity to attend them with new friends in the network. 

The not-for-profit organisation is also looking for members who would like to act as ‘Meet and Greeters’ for when Cork’s real cultural scene gets going again.

First up in the online events series, which Cork Cultural Companions is currently seeking participants for, is ‘Tea and Ballet’ run in association with the Firkin Crane and delivered by Patricia Crosbie.  Over a six-week series of one hour meetings, participants will get together to explore some world famous classical ballets, the first series will focus on the ballet ‘Giselle’. The aim of the series is to help retain and increase mobility in older participants and to break down any perceived barrier to understanding or appreciating ballet and therefore increase numbers attending ballet and dance performances in-house in venues in future.

Another event being planned as part of the series is ‘Theatre in the Community’, which will see a one-person theatre show being brought to five Cultural Companion hubs in the county. The performance will be staged outdoors and will see social distancing guidelines adhered to.

Other activities being launched next week include Mobile Movie Screenings, a Clay Modelling Workshop and Exhibition, and ‘Culture on Call’.

Anyone interested in getting involved is invited to join the virtual launch of Cork Cultural Companions on March 9 to hear more. To register for this event, or for further information on membership, contact Barbara Quinn on 085-1300335 or, or see the Cork Cultural Connections page on 

Cork Cultural Companions is an initiative of Age and Opportunity, and is supported by The Cork County Federation of Muintir na Tíre, the HSE, the Community Work Department Cork North, Cork County Council and Cork City Council, Healthy Ireland and Creative Ireland.

WCP Staff

WCP Staff Writer

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