The Ring of Gullion Traditional Arts Partnership Musical and Cultural Exchange was undertaken in London at the weekend through the £1.4million Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), NIEA and Newry and Mourne District Council.
The Ring of Gullion Traditional Arts Partnership which now has approximately 120 young people attending classes supports and encourages young musicians to take part in cross community events.
The performance of Irish traditional music by teenagers from the Ring of Gullion Traditional Arts Partnership was one of a series of impromptu gigs that included the London Tube, Big Ben, the top deck of a bus and Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in Bishopsgate, a building rebuilt after an IRA bomb in 1993, also staged a concert: Women in Unison.
Des Murphy chair of the Landscape Partnership Scheme said, “We seized the opportunity given to us from our visit to the St. Ethelburgas Peace & Reconciliation Centre, London, to showcase our outstanding talented young musicians from the south Armagh’s Ring of Gullion area. The response from the surprised audience to our young musicians on the London tube, an open top tour bus, and also at Big Ben and Trafalgar Square was priceless!”
The project aims to enable young musicians to visit other music groups in order to; develop their repertoire of tunes from different areas; be exposed to a variety of musical styles so as to enhance the development of their own musical style; meet and forge relationships with other young musicians; experience and foster respect for music from the other traditions and cultures of Northern Ireland as well as other cultures from different countries and equip them with the skills and personal capabilities to deal with the challenges of living in an increasingly diverse and complex society.
Aislinn Fegan, a student from the Sacred Heart in Newry said, “An extraordinary musical experience and opportunity shared with kind and optimistic individuals! Definitely a trip that I will remember all my life due to the impromptu sessions all over London with the tunes on the tube being my highlight of the weekend!”
Alana Flynn also studying at Sacred Heart in Newry said of the trip, “Personally, I enjoyed every aspect of the trip to London. As well as being able to view the wonderful sights of London, we played music throughout the city, even on the tube, providing the Londoners with a taste of Irish music. Overall, this was an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of it!”
Bridín Ní Shúilleabháin, one of the youngest performers said “Bain mé an sult as an deireadh seachtain ar fad! Bhí sé lán de ceol agus craic agus rinne mé cairde don tsaol. Ní raibh seans agam rud éigin mar seo a dhéanamh i mo shoal agus caithfidh mé a rá ba bhreá liom é a dhéanamh arís, go raibh míle do achan duine i gceist.” Niamh Downey another teen performer added, “Shíl mé go raibh an turas seo go London go hiontach. Bhí muid ag seinim ceol ar an tube agus bhí craic den chéad scoith againn uilig! Ba bhréa liom dul ar ais go London mar is áit iontach í.”
Elaine O’Sullivan Tutor for the Ring of Gullion Traditional Arts Partnership said, “The cultural exchange was a fantastic opportunity for the young musicians and singers to play at a unique, cultural, multi-faith venue for a very different audience. It was great opportunity to see London whilst showcasing our own culture to others. I met so many different and interesting people. Many thanks to the Landscape Partnership Scheme for funding and facilitating this fabulous exchange.”
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