Lucina Russell is The Kildare County Council arts officer.
She is a native of Co Meath and has been living in Kildare for about 18 years (so we’ll claim her). She is the only girl of the family with three brothers — Derek, Robert and Eoin.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I grew up on a dairy/sheep farm near Kilmainhamwood in North Co Meath. My mother Kay still lives there, my father John died two years ago. I come from a large extended family and our home was often filled with cousins, many of whom lived close by. I now live in a cottage outside Athy now with my 10-year-old twins, Mya and Leon.
WHAT IS YOUR FIRST KILDARE MEMORY?
I moved to Kildare soon after I was appointed as Arts Officer for Kildare County Council. One of my first memories is of a magical barge trip on the River Barrow from Athy to Maganey. I was fascinated with the meeting of the river and the canal. My other main memory relates to trying to nagivate the county on public transport — trying to get from the south of the county to Maynooth required a bus trip to Dublin and back out to Maynooth. Needless to say, I started driving soon after that.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE COUNTY?
The people I meet through my work. I’ve been here 18 years now and I continue to be energised by the artists and arts organisations here. They are selfless people, passionate about sharing their skills and practice with other people.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL DAY OUT IN THE COUNTY?
If I was having a ‘me’ day, I’d start with a run around the GAA pitch in Athy, followed by a browse around Kildare Village — I’ve a great eye for finding a bargain. I’ve been a fan of Audrey Hepburn since I was a child and I love her costumes on display in the Style Museum in Newbridge Silverware. I’m a gardener, so I’m always on the look-out for plants. Dunshane Nurseries is a gardener’s paradise and I like to buy bedding plants in Cuan Mhuire in Athy, a worthy cause to support.
I like bringing my children on outdoor adventures. We all like going to St. Bridget’s Well — for me, it’s a spiritual place, for them, there’s a stream to paddle in.
The river walk around the Camphill Communities in Kilcullen is great too — the wooden hen house is ‘awesome’, according to my children.
My children have recently joined Athy Rugby club and I am helping out with the girls team (learning as I go). I’m enjoying the camaraderie around that.
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO EAT OUT?
So many to choose — The Green Barn in Burtown House, for top quality food and garden views. The Bay Tree in Athy and Harte’s in Kildare town for decent vegetarian food (many of my pet lambs went ‘missing’ when I was a child and I’ve been veggie since I was 15). Bradbury’s in Athy for a cream doughnut. Dunne and Crescenzi in Kildare Village for coffee and Italian style food.
WHAT DO YOU THINK GIVES KILDARE ITS UNIQUENESS?
The vast landscape of the Curragh springs to mind immediately.
I walk there sometimes and can’t but feel the sense of history that this place holds. I also love the clipped beech hedges of the stud-farms around the county. Within a short space of time you can be in the unique bog landscape in West Kildare and then move into urban centres in the north of the county.
I’m slighty biased in saying that the public art collection in the county is impressive.
HOW IS YOUR ROLE GOING AS ARTS OFFICER?
Hectic! Although I have been here for so long, the job hasn’t become stale, because there is always something new happening. It’s a challenging role, with a big portfolio, ranging from Arts in Education, to Youth Arts and Arts, Health and Wellbeing and artform development, such as film, dance, music.
The new five- year Arts Strategy was recently adopted by the Council and I’m looking forward to implementing that.