EBAF: WOMAD MUSIC & ARTS

WOMAD Flags flying at Skainos Centre Photo: © Michael Fisher

WOMAD Flags flying at Skainos Centre Photo: © Michael Fisher

OK, first I had better explain all these acronyms. For the past few days my blogs have concentrated on EBAF, the East Belfast Arts Festival, which runs until Sunday (1st September) and is now in its second year. The Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir paid tribute to the “hardworking committee at East Belfast Arts Fest” when he met them at Belmont Tower. On his twitter account @newbelfast he described their five day programme as “a magnificent event, lifting the entire city”.

Getting ready for the concert Photo: © Michael Fisher

Getting ready for the concert Photo: © Michael Fisher

WOMAD brought to the Skainos Centre (East Belfast Mission) on the Newtownards Road the World of Music, Arts and Dance (sorry, I couldn’t fit the dancers into the title!). It was founded by rock icon Peter Gabriel in 1982, when he envisaged a concert involving artists from Africa. Since then concerts have been held in over 20 countries in front of live audiences totalling over one million people. It is now officially recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s biggest international music festival.

WOMAD: World of Music Arts & Dance  Photo: © Michael Fisher

WOMAD: World of Music Arts & Dance Photo: © Michael Fisher

Beyond Skin are delivering an outreach programme using international music, arts and dance to bridge cultural relations and  promote cultural learning. The all day event ranged from Uganda Gaze Dance to South American Charango & Ukulele to Indian Warli Art displays.

Brazilian Dance at WOMAD  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Brazilian Dance at WOMAD Concert: Photo: © Michael Fisher

The outreach showcase culminated in a concert that brought a range of unique world culture never seen before in East Belfast.

WOMAD Concert: Photo © Michael Fisher

Brazilian Dance at WOMAD Concert: Photo © Michael Fisher

The event featured performances from two of the most exciting musicians to come out of Senegal in the last decade, Oumar Sow (best known lead guitarists with Youssou N’Dour) and Singer/Guitarist Laye Sow. Supported by guest artists and the Reggae & Ska group, Boss Sound Manifesto. The five are Marty Malone on drums, Kieran ( sauce) Mc Curry on Guitar, Máirtín Ó Briain on Bass, Brendy Mc Curry on organ and guitar and Cormac (Buzz) Ó Briain on vocals and tenor sax.

WOMAD Concert  Boss Sound Manifesto Reggae & Ska Band Photo: © Michael Fisher

WOMAD Concert Boss Sound Manifesto Reggae & Ska Band Photo: © Michael Fisher

WOMAD Arts Music & Dance Photo © Michael Fisher

WOMAD Arts Music & Dance Photo © Michael Fisher

The event was part funded by Belfast City Council’s Creative Legacies project supported under the Belfast PEACE III Plan by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund through the PEACE III Programme and East Belfast District Policing & Community Safety Partnership.  EU flag2colors

EBAF: GAEILGE/IRISH IN EAST BELFAST

Linda Ervine at East Belfast Arts Festival Photo: © Michael Fisher

Linda Ervine at East Belfast Arts Festival Photo: © Michael Fisher

‘Fáilte roimh’ were the Irish words of welcome Linda Ervine used at the start of her interesting talk in the heart of loyalist East Belfast. The venue was the ‘Skainos’ centre on the Lower Newtownards Road. The name comes from the Greek word for tent or dwelling. Skainos speaks of the importance of practical engagement with a community by figuratively pitching a tent in its midst, and it hints at the notion of hospitality and the extended family. The East Belfast Mission (Methodist church) has been closely involved with the development of this cross-community facility.

Attentive audience for Linda Ervine Photo: © Michael Fisher

Attentive audience for Linda Ervine Photo: © Michael Fisher

This area is known as Ballymacarrett. As Linda points out, Irish names are all around. It comes from Baile Mhic Gearóid meaning “MacGearóid’s settlement”. Linda started her ‘turas’ meaning journey or pilgrimage or even tour about the Irish language a few years ago after the death of her brother-in-law David Ervine, former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party who had served time for a UVF-related offence in the Maze prison, where he came under the influence of Gusty Spence. Gusty had an interest in the Irish language (Gaeilge) and wore a silver fainne in his buttonhole, awarded to Irish speakers.

That story was one of the many surprises Linda had for most of her audience. She went on to explain how she had done some research on David’s family in the 1911 Census. There she discovered his grandfather John Ervine, then aged 36, living at Frome Street off the Newtownards Road and not far from the Skainos centre. He was head of the family at the time and he and the rest of them were entered as being able to speak Irish and English, as well as being able to read and write. Update: it has been pointed out that if you look closely at the actual census record by enlarging it, there is a fine line drawn through the words ‘Irish & English’ by the census enumerator, in the entry for the Ervine family and those in the same street.

Explaining the derivation of Rathcoole (loyalist estate): Ráth Cúile: nook of the ringfort

Explaining the derivation of Rathcoole (loyalist estate): Ráth Cúile: nook of the ringfort

Linda is Irish Language Development Officer for East Belfast and is based at the Skainos Centre. She  started learning Irish two years ago as part of a cross-community project with women from the nearby nationalist Short Strand. Now she runs five classes a week for beginners as well as lower and upper intermediate level, delivered by three specialist teachers. It is supported by Foras na Gaeilge, and there is a growing demand for more. Linda is passionate about helping Protestants, unionists and loyalists to dis

Linda Ervine recommends books by the Ultach Trust

Linda Ervine recommends books by the Ultach Trust

Linda has found much useful background material in the publications of the Ultach Trust, such as ‘A History of Protestant Irish Speakers’. She referred to the Reverend John Feeley, a Wesleyan preacher who went round the country on horseback, died in Holywood in 1860 and who is buried at a church on the Newtownards Road:-

The foremost Methodist preacher in Irish was Gideon Ousely (1762-1839) from Sligo, who at the height of his powers travelled 4,000 miles a year, preaching about 20 times a week. He was accompanied by John Feely (Seán Ó Fithcheallaigh), who had trained to be a Catholic priest, and thus guaranteed curiosity wherever he appeared. Together they were known as the ‘black caps’ because of their close-fitting skull caps designed to protect their heads from stones; Ousely preferred to stand in front of apothecaries’ windows to deter missiles (Hempton and Hill 1992: 41). Ousely’s strange clothes, comical leer (the result of a shooting accident), and habit of ringing a bell to announce his arrival also ensured large audiences“.

Noel McGee as Robert McAdam Photo: Aisling Ghéar

Noel McGee as Robert McAdam Photo: Aisling Ghéar

Linda mentioned other leading Irish speakers in the 19th Century who were Protestants: Robert McAdam a Presbyterian who is remembered in the former Presbyterian Church on the Falls Road in West Belfast, now known as the Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich. His story ‘SEO Robert: The Search for Robert McAdam’ will be presented by the Aisling Ghéar theatre company on Sunday evening at the BMC Tower Street campus as part of the East Belfast festival at 7:30pm. Admission £5. It is a one-man show by Noel McGee directed by Bríd Ó Gallchoir and is mainly in English, with some Irish which is translated by the performer. McAdam was involved in setting up a library, a harp society, a museum and a literary society. He designed and mended steam turbines, made the windows for the Pasha’s Palace in Cairo and still found time to compose music and amass one of the largest collections of Irish cultural treasures on the island.

Having given her audience an interesting introduction to the use of Irish in Northern Ireland where 95% of placenames are derived from Gaeilge, Linda ended on an amusing note. For those who seek to use the republican slogan “Tiocfaidh ár lá”, or “our day will come”, there should be one response: “Ní ghéillfimid”, meaning we will not yield, or in the local version as demonstrated in this final slide featuring senior DUP and Sinn Féin figures,”No surrender!”.

How to say "No Surrender" in Irish!

How to say “No Surrender” in Irish!