Cruinniú na nÓg gives children the chance to express themselves

A national day of creativity gives children the chance to express themselves, says Helen O’Callaghan
Cruinniú na nÓg gives children the chance to express themselves
Freya Brhanavan (6) from Wicklow pictured unleashing some creative talents for Cruinniú na nÓg. Picture: Wicklow County Council

Freya Brhanavan (6) from Wicklow pictured unleashing some creative talents for Cruinniú na nÓg. Picture: Wicklow County Council
Freya Brhanavan (6) from Wicklow pictured unleashing some creative talents for Cruinniú na nÓg. Picture: Wicklow County Council

A national day of creativity gives children the chance to express themselves, says Helen O’Callaghan.

IRELAND is unique worldwide in having a national day of free creativity for children and young people under 18.

And this year’s Covid-19 restrictions aren’t going to stop it – it’s full steam ahead, with Cruinniú na nÓg going online and virtual.

Since its 2018 beginnings – when over 500 events took place in cities, towns and villages across the country – the creative day of festival has become a key point in the calendar for children and teens to try something creative, develop an appetite for discovery and acquire new skills.


Cruinniú na nÓg is an initiative of the Creative Ireland Programme’s Creative Youth plan and – in partnership with RTÉ and Local Authorities – is urging Ireland’s youth to answer the call: to get creative at home and be ready to showcase their creative talents on Saturday, June 13.

The event sees lots of creative, cultural and engaging ‘calls to action’, which young people – and families – can create in their own homes and gardens.

Highlights include:

  • Céilí in the Kitchen – calls on kids and families to create a Céilí in their kitchen for Cruinniú. Trad dance club Áirc Damhsa will guide participants through the Irish tradition of these communal social events that take place in houses.
  • Let’s Go Fly a Kite – calls on children and families to make and fly a kite for Cruinniú in their county colours. On June 13, in partnership with Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, in your backyard or on your street, with your back to the wind, slowly let your kite leave your hand and watch it majestically rise into the air.
  • Become a Story Keeper – Fighting Words and Great Lighthouses of Ireland are inviting young writers aged seven to 12 to become Story Keepers – to create a story inspired by lighthouses. Lighthouses are places of wonder, providing safety and guidance on journeys fraught with danger.
  • Create a Video Game App – If your child could click their fingers and create a video game app, what would it be? A racing game, a coin collector, a target game or a platform – the choice is endless and kids and families can decide. Together with Whizz Kids Training – via their ground-breaking Digital Skills Virtual Classroom – young people will be helped into the world of software design in four easy tutorials.

Local Authorities will host a range of cultural and creative activities and online events for Cruinniú na nÓg – full details will be available on

For example, in Cork, children and young people are invited to submit creative responses of their experience of life during Covid-19 for the Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr John Sheehan’s ‘Creative Call’.

Individual submissions must be made via email as digital files to by May 29. An online exhibition on is planned in partnership with Cruinniú na nÓg for June 13.


In Wicklow, TV chef Catherine Fulvio, children’s author Sarah Webb and writer and poet Colm Keegan and are on board to inspire and lead the initiative.

“Everyone benefits from being creative,” says Sarah Webb. “It takes you away from ‘real life’ and immerses you in a world of acting, singing, drawing, writing and reading.”

She highlights how important such creativity is this year, with children having to rise to the very tough ask of social distancing from friends and school life.

Catherine Fulvio
Catherine Fulvio

“This is a difficult time for them. They’re being asked to do something that has never before in our lifetime been asked of children. And they’re doing brilliantly,” says the mum of three – Sam’s 25, Amy 17 and Jago 14: they’ve all been doing a lot of reading and watching movies.

Mum-of-two Catherine Fulvio says daughter Charlotte 18, was up until recently studying for her Leaving Cert, while Rowan, 16,  has been reinventing himself in supporting his family since lockdown started. “He has been helping cook family meals and he has been out working in our garden.

I’ve moved into the area of content creation and he’s my cameraman. Our bond has grown stronger. He has taken on the responsibility without any teen grumpiness.”

Cruinniú na nÓg, she says, is an amazing opportunity for young people to just go wild in their imagination.

“That’s what childhood is about,” she says, recalling that as a child she got plenty opportunity to grow her creative side.

If I wasn’t developing recipes in the kitchen, I was working in the garden. I taught myself to sew.

Wicklow County Council has a series of initiatives to offer young people for Cruinniú na nÓg. Catherine Fulvio will lead a bake-off, Create School will have a series of stop motion animation workshops and Sarah Webb will lead a story-writing competition. For full programme and details of how to sign up for any of the initiatives, visit: or

Closing date for entries is June 2.

In other examples around Ireland, young people in Carlow are invited to make an art exhibition/artwork/performance at home (or for their neighbourhood) about the planet and how we care for it; Cork County Council is working with artist Fiona Boniwell, who will show in a 20-minute tutorial how to draw your favourite character from a book; and in Kerry, filmmaker Mieke Van Mechelen invites participants aged 14-18 to apply to the Young Filmmakers Programme, a series of online discussions via Zoom finalising in a screening on June 13 – for more info, visit

Visit;;; #CreativeIreland.


This week, RTÉ2 has been showing a trilogy of award-winning, original Irish children’s drama. Produced by Dyehouse Films and commissioned by RTÉjr, the live-action short films feature brave, engaging characters navigating all kinds of hurdles in their lives.

Tina Times Two airs at 3.55pm this afternoon on RTÉ2. It’s a coming-of-age fable centred around Tina, a lonely young girl whose wish comes true when she discovers a magical friend who’s an exact double of herself! The dream soon turns to a nightmare when her double wants to take on a life of her own.

Filmed in Banagher, Co Offaly last summer, Tina Times Two brings together a spectacular cast including Robyn Dempsey as Tina/Tina2, Gus McDonagh (Rebellion, Charlie, Love Hate), Noni Stapleton (Penny Dreadful) and a hilarious cameo by Eilish O’Carroll (Mrs Brown’s Boys).

It’s primarily a dance film, choreographed by Jessica Kennedy of Junk Ensemble Dance Company along with hip-hop stalwart Don King Rongavilla. Music was composed by Irish screen composer Sarah Lynch with the title song written by CCBrez (formerly Republic of Loose).

Tina Times Two premiers today and presents themes around magic of friendship, unity and hope. The other films shown this week were All in Good Time and The Girl at the End of the Garden.

Tina Times Two, May 22 at 3.55pm on RTÉ2.

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