Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Good Relations Team in partnership with Glór Na Maoile, CCE Dhun Lathaí, Gael na Glinntí and the Fuse Center in Ballymoney recently hosted a special event to celebrate Earrach/Spring at St Joseph’s Parish Center in Dunloy.
The collaborative programme, which took place during Seachhain Na Gaeilge (Irish Language Week), included lectures, musical performances and poetry celebrating both the Irish language and Ulster Scots.
Commenting on the event, Causeway Coast Mayor and Glens Borough Council Councilor Richard Holmes said: “It’s wonderful to see groups come together to showcase the rich array of cultures and traditions within of our borough and celebrate our common heritage. We are in a unique position within the Causeway Coast and the Glens to have such active and enthusiastic Irish and Ulster Scottish groups working together to share and learn from each other.
Participants included Gael na Glinntí, Irish Language Development Manager, Deirdre Goodlad. She told the audience about rituals, traditions and customs around Spring and Earrach and asked participants to stamp their feet and sing along with Téir Abhaile Rúi, a traditional bonding song.
Deirdre said: “Settling into my new role as Oifigeach Forbartha Gaeilge, Irish Language Manager for the region, this earrach/spring event has given me the chance to meet and work with people from community who share a love of poetry, music, language and storytelling in Irish and Ulster Scots. All of these cultural elements of ourselves and our community connect us to each other in some way. One story leads to another; a similarity is found; new interest is aroused and so on and we navigate very naturally towards a closer collaboration.
Participants also listened to musicians from the Ullans/Fuse Center in Ballymoney, led by renowned local traditional musician Dick Glasgow.
Louise Morrow of the Fuse Center said: “Myself, Dick Glasgow and Happy Mondays attended a fantastic morning at St Joseph’s Parish Center in Dunloy. It was a morning full of song, poetry and musical entertainment, as part of Irish language week and as a celebration of spring.
The audience also had the opportunity to hear from Liam Logan, who is well known as a great Ulster-Scots enthusiast and commentator. Liam, originally from Dunloy, has made a significant contribution to Ulster Scots as a lecturer, broadcaster, journalist and writer. As part of his speech, he discussed key phrases in everyday Ulster Scots and the links between place names in the Dunloy area and Ulster Scots.
Liam said: “It was a pleasure to be part of such a wonderful event and for me personally it was great to be back in North Antrim, in the village where I was raised and schooled. My former headmaster, Colm McAlarey, was a huge fan of the poet, Reverend WF Marshall, a Presbyterian minister from Omagh and Master McAlarey often recited his Ulster Scots poetry at school. I had the privilege of reading a poem by Andy Dooey, written around the early 1900s, given to me by Charlie Gillen, Dervock’s bard, titled “The Burn Atween Doods Lan an Oors”.
“Andy Dooey was a poet from Dunloy who wrote poetry in Irish and Ulster Scots. Dunloy is also the birthplace of James Fenton, a son of Balinaloob, considered the godfather of the Scots of Ulster, making Dunloy the perfect location for this event.
At the end of the session, the public had the chance to appreciate the performances of Caoimhe ni Chathail, Jonny Murphy and Frank Cassidy. Jonny talked about the connection and crossover between different tunes and songs while Caoimhe performed beautiful renditions from the Sam Henry collection as well as a mouth music demonstration.
“It was a pleasure to perform songs and tunes for a very receptive audience as part of this event during Seachtain Na Gaeilge,” Caoimhe said.
Maureen Gaston of Dhún Lathaí Comhaltas, who moderated the session, said: “Dunloy Comhaltas were delighted to be asked to host this event. The discussion on Earrach, spring, traditions and related music, poetry and stories was an informative and entertaining morning. Go raibh maith agat, thank you to everyone who attended and hope Dunloy Comhaltas can welcome them all back soon.
The event was part of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Good Relations Hear Here programme, which explores Ulster’s Scottish and Irish culture, tradition and heritage. The program is supported by Causeway Coast and Glens Executive Office and Borough Council through the District Council’s Good Relations Program, as part of the larger Together: Building a United Community programme.