TAF time of year

Ella-Bleu Kiely speaks with TAF Festival Director Seirce Mhac Conghail on the nature of the society

This year’s Trinity Arts Festival (TAF) week began on the day devoted to romance. Running from 14-16 February, the society of tote bags and glitter held events every day from morning to night ranging from scrambled egg workshops, pop-up plays, live gigs, and a botanical campus tour. What inspired the TAF committee for this year’s festivities was the yearning for a jolt back to real life. And, also, the yearning for “a bop”, shared TAF Festival Director Seirce Mhac Conghail. The society aimed to provide this for students alongside a short shock of art and its usual madness. 

In the past few years, the cultural scene in Dublin has struggled significantly; the idea of creating something without the barriers that have cropped up in the past two years was purely exciting to TAF. “It was just so great and inspirational thinking and planning how we could actually work with so many local artists and performers in person this year … It’s all about bringing together the external and different threads to merge in TAF. We make a stage for the art,” Mhac Conghail said. 

Most of Trinity’s societies will hold their own traditions, and TAF is no exception. Mhac Conghail, after pondering TAF’s unique customs, stated: “I’m not one for holding on to certain traditions if it doesn’t have value or it’s not fun anymore. That being said, there’s loads of TAF traditions that I’d like to see live on in the future.” It’s difficult to know how some of these TAF traditions originated — take, for example, the annual TAF Pink Party. Mhac Conghail outlined that “The paper trail isn’t really there for us, the hard cold facts of why we do these things.” 

“TAF encourages participation for the practice rather than for the result.”

When asked why others should get involved in TAF life, Mhac Conghail pointed to its beneficial balance: “We only host two major events per term and there’s an intensity in preparing for them. But you can easily return to your life and your studies. It’s such a great balance of academic, social and society life.” There is a constant feeling of community and culture circulating around TAF, and it has that “immediacy and intensity and deep satisfying involvement. There is excitement and stress that comes with that, but it’s not going to absolutely overwhelm your college life. People should also join because all our events are free! Fundamental.”  TAF encourages participation for the practice rather than for the result. “It’s not about that big production machine that you get caught up in in college and society life”, the Festival Director expressed.

“Trinity has such a vibrant society life anyway, so TAF seemed quite distinctive and worth getting involved in.”

What first attracted Mhac Conghail to TAF was a quote from The Secret Garden: “All the world was a purple shadow and silver.” They got involved in the society by accident, and simply thought “it looked really cool, but at the same time so vague and hard to understand. […] It ended up that loads of people were going to the GMB Take-over and it was just such a magical experience. I thought that it seemed like something pretty unique amongst all the societies. Trinity has such a vibrant society life anyway, so TAF seemed quite distinctive and worth getting involved in.” 

Aesthetics are important to the society, which are set by the Installations Officer alongside the Publicity Officer. Mac Conghail explained that in order for TAF to create an initial online energy, students need to feel intrigued and part of it: “Since TAF is such a small society it basically sort of lives and dies on its publicity in a way. Year on year the publicity is of a very high standard and it’s also a huge job.” Aesthetics and visuals are crucial to the festival, but never in a specific way. “However, we love pink”, Mhac Conghail added. 

“…everyone needs art in their life, in a big or a small way. We all need culture.”

Year on year, with different committees, TAF’s message and approach alters. This year, for Mhac Conghail, the approach was that “everyone needs art in their life, in a big or a small way. We all need culture.” Life is not truly formed without art, and TAF is all about bringing it into people’s lives just that little bit more even if only for a short amount of time. “Unless you are someone who is intimately involved with the arts, especially these days it can be hard to interact with them. It’s all about the simple pleasures of art. Quick things that spark joy.” 

Although only making two major appearances a year on campus, the TAF committee pride themselves on being all that’s good about society life in Trinity. “TAF is never about one single thing but I feel like it represents some of the best things you can do in a society. There’s a lot of independence and creative freedom in Trinity’s society life. TAF is also all just so crazy. I think it’s the fact there’s so much going on in one week which creates a particular feeling that’s really infectious and unavoidable. It’s powerful,” Mhac Conghail said. 

TAF is a celebration of all various art forms in College. There are so many wonderfully obscure societies on this campus of ours, and so many of them conjoin to support TAF in its celebration of culture. Mhac Conghail even confirmed that “if you really want to make something happen, there’s a good chance it will be with our societies.” This TAF week, the society successfully showcased the nuts and bolts of art with room for bright expression.

Ella-Bleu Kiely

Ella-Bleu Kiely is the current Deputy Life Editor of Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister Classics and English Literature student.