Friday the 13th was the decision day for the Irish ECoC 2020 candidate cities. At 16:15 local time, the evaluation panel shortlisted cities that will continue their efforts to become the European Capital of Culture in 2020.

The evaluation panel was obviously impressed with what they have seen as three of the four candidate cities advance to the next round. In no particular order, these cities are: Limerick 2020, Three Sisters 2020, Galway 2020. Dublin 2020 did not pass the pre-selection stage.

A few weeks back, The Best of Ireland Series recapitulated Irish candidate cities and their approaches to the bid. Here is what they say:


Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 16.42.05Dublin has held the title of Capital of Culture once before in 1991 (the only Irish besides Cork in 2005), which may make it somewhat of an outsider for the bid, though its cultural credentials make it a strong contender. Dublin is filled with marvellous artistic attractions and endeavours enough to provide a smorgasbord of events and spectacles for the host year. From national and contemporary galleries to street theatre companies and musicians, Ireland’s capital city is home to some of Ireland’s top artists as well as some of its best equipped venues which make it a great prospect for hosting this cultural Goliath.

Dublin has also begun talks with contemporaries in Croatia also vying for the bid on collaborations and artist exchanges which, if chosen, may make for a very exciting 2020!


Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 16.41.43It’s hard to walk through Galway without thinking about its strong culture. From the statues of Oscar and Eduard Wilde on Shop Street to the countless buskers that give Galway that magical bohemian feeling to its renowned annual arts festival, Galway is a strong contender for any artistic designation.

Huge cultural assets from large spectacle artists like Macnas right down to countless sculptors, painters and playwrights, there’s something special in Galway’s medieval streets that would make for a Capital of Culture year worth remembering. We could call it the Galwaissance.


Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 16.42.14This could be the biggest thing to happen culturally in Limerick since a 25-foot French octogenarian took to the streets smiling benignly at all her new Irish friends. Having hosted the Irish City of Culture previously in 2014, Limerick not only knows what it takes to make a successful bid, but how to pull it off.

A lot has happened culturally in Limerick since its tenure as City of Culture with so many new creative hubs and collectives being formed providing some of the most cutting edge Irish art, theatre and craft at the minute. Winning the 2020 bid would no doubt firmly position Limerick as one of Ireland’s cultural giants (pardon the pun) and extend 2014’s legacy even further.

Three Sisters (Kilkenny, Waterford & Wexford):          

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 16.43.39The Three Sisters, if chosen, will be the first ever bid by a threesome to host the European Capital of Culture. While a joint bid may not seem to hold much water, the sister counties along rivers Nore, Suir and Barrow are capable of making strong cultural waves. From festivals like Kilkenny’s Cat Laughs Comedy Festival and arts festival to Waterford’s Spraoi to the Wexford Opera Festival, the Three Sisters have already shown what they’re capable of.

Perhaps the most appealing part of the Three Sisters bid is that such a large portion of Ireland will be developed culturally, socially and economically which may lead to a longer lasting legacy, not to mention a thoroughly rich capital year.

Written by Adam Leahy, The Best of Ireland Series