(The ‘Cycles’ event was cancelled due to weather conditions – update as of Saturday evening, September 23)

Cycling enthusiasts and families with an interest in culture and the arts are being encouraged by Carlow Arts Festival and Carlow Sports Partnership to get on their bikes for ‘Cycles’, an arts participation project tomorrow (Sunday, September 24) that explores language, history, landscape and cycling in rural Co. Carlow.

The 18km cycling and arts event through some of the most scenic parts of rural Carlow will start at Ducketts Grove on Sunday at 10:30a.m and will take participants on a leisurely cycle through the county as they listen to a specially created audio piece.

Bikes will be available to hire and there will be options to take a bus to the event from Tullow, Graiguecullen, Hacketstown and Rathvilly. Some hand cycles, trikes and rickshaws will also be available to use.

The experience has been developed by artists, Michelle Browne and Eszter Nemethi, with community members from rural and urban areas across the county, among them Rathvilly, Graiguecullen, Tullow and Hacketstown.

Through a series of workshops, together they have been looking back to 1923 and imagining our future in 2123.

Project partners working to make it an extra special day for all include County Carlow Sports Partnership; Carlow Arts Office; Carlow County Development Partnership CLG; Carlow County Library; Carlow County Museum; and Carlow Road Cycling Club.

Artist Michelle Browne said it will be a fun, family friendly event and encouraged the culturally curious and those with a spirit of adventure to go along.

“Our event will be great fun for all the family. We are inviting everyone to take part in a collective cycling experience.

“We will be asking participants to download a specially created app onto their phone which will be triggered into playing an audio piece when you cycle past key locations,” she said.

“Everyone will be given a special high-vis for their journey, making it a fun and safe experience. We will set off on our adventure from 11:45a.m and hope to attract 300 or so adventure-seeking participants.”

Artists Michelle Browne and Eszter Nemethi at Ducketts Grove. Image: Finbarr O’Rourke

‘Cycles’ will be led and stewarded by Carlow Sports Partnership and Carlow Road Cycling Club, with gardaí managing the rolling road closures, Orlaith Treacy, creative producer with Carlow Arts Festival said as she revealed some of the elements of the arts participation event.

“Along the route, there will be some unexpected installations for cyclists to enjoy,” she said.

“We will have a refreshment stop to keep everyone hydrated. For children or those who might not feel able to do the full 18km, there’s a shorter 3km option so all can enjoy the experience.

“Inside Duckett’s Grove, there will be a loop inside the walled garden for young children to cycle and other games and activities,” Orlaith said.

Duckett’s Grove walled gardens and pleasure grounds have been a jewel in the landscape of Co. Carlow for hundreds of years.

The gardens surround the ruins of Duckett’s Grove, a 19th century great house and former estate owned by the Duckett family which formed part of what was a 12,000ac estate.

“As the cyclists return to Duckett’s Grove, Carlow Community Choir will perform a specially commissioned song for this project created with Carlow musicians Ye Vagabonds,” Orlaith said.

“It’s a really gorgeous song that is inspired by the texts written during the workshops we did in Hacketstown, Rathvilly, Tullow and Graiguecullen.

“Brían and Diarmuid Mac Gloinn, being from the Long Mile Road, grew up cycling the roads we’ll be cycling on the route so were the perfect pair to write this special song.”

Pre-registration is advised as places are limited. A nominal fee of €5/adult and €2/child also covers a post-cycle barbecue.

‘Cycles’ is part of ART 2023, a decade of centenaries programme, presented by The Arts Council /An Chomhairle Ealaíon in association with the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

The event is also part of the European Week of Sports and has been funded in part by Creative Ireland, Carlow County Council Arts Office and Healthy Ireland.