5 Best Performing Arts Venues in The Midlands, Ireland

Tullamore Show

Fodor's choice

Ireland's biggest agricultural gathering (and one of its longest established) attracts 60,000 annually in the second week of August, when the largest assembly of cattle anywhere in the country compete in 1,000 classes for 42 national titles. Apart from the many different breeds of cows, there are also sheep-shearing competitions, cooking demonstrations, exhibits of local artisinal produce, displays of vintage farm machinery, and fashion shows. An international visitor center caters to the huge crowds of overseas tourists who flock to the show, which appeals to all generations. Scores of trade stands encourage you to spend money, and an art and photography section features the work of local artists.

Backstage Theatre

This theater, the center of a thriving local arts scene, is on the grounds of the local Gaelic Athletic Association club. Catch a local match before heading into the theater for a dose of drama, dance, classical music, or opera. The theater and club are located a mile outside Longford on the road to Athlone.

Dunamaise Arts Centre

This lively arts center has a 240-seat theater, an art gallery, and a friendly coffeehouse (closed Sunday). You may catch a professional production on tour or a local amateur show. The exhibition space displays the work of contemporary Irish artists. It's built into the back of the 18th-century stone courthouse on Church Street in a space that used to be the town jail. Caffe Latte serves sandwiches and salads at lunch, and afternoon tea.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Electric Picnic

In the first weekend of September the historic grounds of Stradbally Hall come alive with a music and arts festival at one of Ireland's biggest outdoor gigs. Running since 2004, the festival attracts big-name performers and up to 50,000 picnickers who come not only for the music but also comedy, theater, and food. Book tickets early if you wish to attend.

Percy French Summer School

During the first week of July, one of Ireland's best-loved songwriters, Percy French, is celebrated in Roscommon town and at Castlecoote House with a summer school, complete with concerts and lectures. French was born at Cloonyquinn House near Elphin; his best-known songs include "Are Ye Right There, Michael?" and "Phil the Fluter's Ball." French is enjoying a renaissance in Ireland since the 100th anniversary of his death in 2020 brought his music and life to a new audience.