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  • Admission Free Cabra Library

Lucy McKenna’s exhibition in Cabra Library explores High Strangeness, ideas and stories at the edge of our understanding of the universe. The artist is particularly interested in the phenomenon of magical lights appearing in the Irish landscape, as documented by children from 1937 to 1939 in the National Folklore Collection, UCD. The stories were collected by children from adults in their locality; some are first-hand witness accounts while others are stories passed along from others, spanning many generations.

The artist uses these stories as an entry point into thinking about magic, science, and our place in the universe. The stories’ beauty is in the descriptions of, the respect for, and the holding of belief in the otherworldly, as well as the role of children as the primary investigators, gatherers and passers-on of these phenomenal lived-experiences for the future generations of Ireland. In capturing the stories, the children were open-minded, unbiased and uncynical, curious and interested. These accounts are part detective work and part documentation.

High Strangeness places today’s children in the position of children of the 1930s—giving them a doorway to think critically, to investigate the works using active ‘looking’ to draw their own conclusions. This exhibition also includes drawings based on photos from the Hubble telescope, near-Earth objects and asteroids. There are sculptures of mysterious objects that may or may not be from Earth, fragments of objects mentioned in the stories, bound together by magical forces. A sense of intrigue surrounds the strange lettering on the exhibition space’s wall: a message in a code yet to be deciphered, seemingly pulled by an unseen energy force in the room.

High Strangeness is accompanied by a new poem by Enda Wyley.

From April to mid-June 2024, IMMA’s Visitor Engagement Team will facilitate art workshops in Cabra Library for primary school classes. Scroll down to Cabra Library section below for contact details regarding availability.

Lucy McKenna

Lucy McKenna‘s work is concerned with the observation and interpretation of data relating to our understanding of the universe. She looks at the systems that attempt to explain our place in it, who owns them and the perspectives that those systems include or exclude. In 2023, Lucy McKenna began self-directed research with the National Folklore Collection, and was subsequently awarded the UCD Joseph M Hassett Creativity Bursary to officially partner with UCD on making new work relating to the collection.

Enda Wyley

Enda Wyley is a poet and teacher. She has published six collections of poetry from her debut Eating Baby Jesus, through to New and Selected Poems and The Painter on his Bike, Dedalus Press. Her children’s books include I Won’t Go To China! and Boo and Bear, O’Brien Press. She is a member of Aosdána.

Speaking about Lucy McKenna’s exhibition, Wyley said “I wrote this poem because I was inspired by stories from The National Folklore Collection and by the artist Lucy McKenna’s beautiful short film of a ring fort called High Strangeness. The white flowers swaying in the breeze made me think of a ring fort as a magic place where fairies are woken by strange lights at night and dance – but also as a place where we can dig deep into our hearts and memory and imagine those people we love.”

Creative Hubs

Dublin City Public Libraries and City Arts Office work in partnership to support key four Creative Hubs within Ballyfermot, Cabra, Central and Coolock libraries. Creative Hubs sustain high quality arts experiences for children, schools, and families to access in their Library and locality, through the development of enhanced educational, community and cultural partnership. The year-round multi-disciplinary Creative Hubs programme is delivered by The Ark.

The National Folklore Collection

The objectives of the National Folklore Collection (NFC) are to collect, preserve and disseminate the oral tradition of Ireland. The NFC, which is located in UCD, includes 2 million manuscript pages, 500,000 index cards, 12,000 hours of sound recordings, 80,000 photographs and 1,000 hours of video material. Lucy McKenna was awarded the Joseph M. Hassett Creativity Bursary for Visual Art (2023-2024) to undertake research in the National Folklore Collection and create new work inspired by the Collection. This annual bursary is funded by the College of Arts and Humanities Support Fund and named for College alumnus and Yeats scholar Dr Joseph M. Hassett. Explore online the School’s Folklore Collections here.

Cabra Library

The librarians in Cabra said “We are delighted to partner with IMMA to bring Lucy McKenna’s exhibition to Cabra Library as part of Dublin City Council’s Creative Hubs programme. Dublin City Libraries are trusted open spaces that provide materials to support curiosity, imagination, and creativity. This exhibition, drawing on Irish folklore, is a gateway into the world of imagination. We look forward to welcoming people to Cabra Library to enjoy this exhibition.”

You can visit the exhibition High Strangeness at Cabra Library.

Cabra Library, Navan Road, Dublin, D07 AYW1

Tel. 01 222 8317
Email [email protected]

Library Opening Hours
Monday 10:00 – 20:00
Tuesday 10:00 – 20:00
Wednesday 10:00 – 20:00
Thursday 10:00 – 20:00
Friday 10:00 – 17:00
Saturday 10:00 – 17:00
Sunday Closed
See webpage for arrangements regarding Public Holidays.

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.