Inside the Mother Tongues Festival 2024

Celebrating multilingualism through the arts

What a weekend it was at the Mother Tongues Festival 2024 in Tallaght! From February 16th to 17th, we came together to celebrate the magic of language, cultural exchange, and multilingualism as a tool to unite communities.

Our festival was jam-packed with events tailored for language enthusiasts of all ages. From thought-provoking panel discussions to dynamic workshops, attendees were treated to a feast of activities that celebrated the richness of languages present in our society.

As a foreigner here in Ireland for 18 years I am well aware of cultural and linguistic barriers and I always wanted to surpass them with inclusion and compassion. I think Mother Tongues is doing this in the best ways.

Festival artist

On Friday 16th February, Dr Francesca La Morgia, Mother Tongues’ director, kicked off with an inspiring presentation on the mission of Mother Tongues, leaving us all motivated to promote multilingualism and linguistic inclusion in our communities. After that, two of our partners presented two projects that have seen the involvement of Mother Tongues in the past months. Dr Christina Egan Marnell from Early Childhood Ireland talked about the outcomes of the OWL (Our World of Languages) project focused on linguistically responsive practice in early years settings.
Juan Ruiz Subirán, Director of Baby Erasmus, presented some of the results of the Erasmus+ project BABO – Bilingual And Bicultural Outlook.

Additionally, the panel discussion focused on Creativity and Multilingualism, organised and moderated by Erika Piazzoli from the Trinity College’s School of Education, featured academics Jean-Rémi Lapaire, Claire Dunne, and Iseult Ní Chonchúir. Their insights into multilingualism and creativity sparked meaningful conversations and deepened our understanding of the role language plays in shaping our world. You can watch back the panel and the opening presentations on YouTube, with ISL interpreting.

Those who attended the event in person enjoyed also the dynamic workshop ‘Living Languages’ led by Miriam Stewart, where participants explored the playful side of multilingualism through drama and movement. It was a joy to see language come to life in such a creative way!

Socially engaged arts practitioners had a great opportunity for professional development focused on the theme of multilingual performance with the workshop facilitated by Rome-based theatre company Teatro Multilingue. The full-day programme enhanced participants’ skills in drama-based methodologies that foster language development, inclusion and well-being.

For me, it was very enriching to be in such a multilingual environment and feel the respect and power of it.

Festival attendee

One of the highlights of Saturday 17th was the launch of the photographic exhibition “Like Parents in Fairytales,” attended by Mayor Cllr Alan Edge and the Romanian Ambassador, H.E. Mr Laurentiu Mihai Stefan. Their presence underscored the importance of celebrating diversity and multiculturalism through the arts.

Talking about this beautiful exhibition, Dr La Morgia not only honoured the grandparents and children portrayed in the photographs who attended this opening but also emphasised the role of families as custodians of cultural heritage and guardians of heritage languages and shared traditions. Moreover, Dr La Morgia underscored the festival’s ethos of unity in diversity, inspiring everyone to embrace their heritage and share their unique stories with pride and dignity. The speeches of Curator Natalia Luncaș Ionel and photographer Vlad Bodarev were very moving, highlighting how deeply this project touched their lives.

It is certainly very important to have spaces for multicultural families to celebrate their language and culture.

Festival artist

Additionally, the Mayor visited the moving installation created by the Italian collective Cantieri Meticci.
Over the course of their two-week residency, artists Pietro Floridia and Sara Pour shared the story of Uccellina (little bird), symbolising the aspirations of displaced children to find refuge and access education in a secure environment. Through their collaborative work with local schools Scoil Aoife Community National School and Firhouse Educate Together Secondary School, Cantieri Meticci brought this inspiring tale to life, amplifying marginalised voices and shedding light on the challenges faced by displaced communities worldwide.

The artworks created by the children were displayed in a gorgeous exhibition at the South Dublin Arts Centre, carrying a message of solidarity and inclusion, reaffirming our commitment to fostering empathy and understanding within our diverse society.
Through initiatives like the Uccellina installation, the Mother Tongues Festival continues to serve as a platform for dialogue, reflection, and cultural exchange, inspiring individuals and communities to embrace the richness of linguistic and cultural diversity.
Watch the video produced by Cantieri Meticci on this occasion:

I think the fun aspect of all the events and the warm vibes make bilingual and multilingual people feel proud

Festival artist

At the heart of the festival was the coming together of families from diverse backgrounds, creating an atmosphere of artistic and linguistic exploration. Through engaging multilingual workshops, children and grown-ups embraced the beauty of diversity by exploring different artistic mediums.
With passion and enthusiasm, families embraced the opportunity to learn from one another, immersing themselves in the kaleidoscope of languages and cultures showcased at the festival.

I think that the most important difference made by this Festival is introducing the multiple cultures that Irish society now contains, and helping the new bilingual and bicultural generations to be proud of this legacy and not forget it.

Festival volunteer

We want to express our gratitude to our amazing team and the dedicated artists who made our latest Festival a success.
Their dedication, hard work, and passion were instrumental in creating an unforgettable experience for all involved.

Moreover, we extend a huge thank you to all our participants, volunteers, funders and partners who made this event possible.
Until next time!

Thank you all for supporting our mission and celebrating the many cultures and languages in Ireland!

Mother Tongues Festival. 16-17 February 2024, Tallaght. Photography Marco Mira

Mother Tongues Festival is supported and funded by the Arts Council, South Dublin County Council, South Dublin Outdoors, Languages Connect, Rua Red, the Civic Theatre and RTÉ Supporting the Arts.

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