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 Centre in Ballymoney recently hosted a special event to celebrate Earrach/Spring in St Joseph’s Parish Centre in Dunloy.
The collaborative programme, which took place during Seacthain Na Gaeilge (Irish Language Week), included talks, musical performances and poetry celebrating both the Irish Language and Ulster Scots.
Commenting on the event, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Councillor Richard Holmes said: “It is wonderful to see groups come together to showcase the rich array of culture and tradition within our Borough and celebrate our shared heritage. We are in a most privileged position within the Causeway Coast and Glens to have such active and enthusiastic Irish and Ulster Scots groups working together to share with, and learn from, each other.”
Among those who took part were Gael na Glinntí Irish Language Development Officer Deirdre Goodlad. She spoke to the audience about the rituals, traditions, and customs around Spring time and Earrach and had participants tapping their toes and singing along to Téir Abhaile Rúi, a traditional matchmaking song.
Deirdre said: “Settling into my new role as Oifigeach Forbartha Gaeilge, Irish Language Officer in the area, this earrach/spring event gave me the chance to meet and work with people in the community who share a love of poetry, music, language and story-telling in Irish and Ulster Scots. All 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; a new interest is sparked and so it goes and we very naturally navigate towards working together more closely.”
Participants also listened to the musicians, from the Ullans/Fuse Centre in Ballymoney, led by renowned local traditional musician Dick Glasgow.
Louise Morrow from the Fuse Centre said: “Myself, Dick Glasgow and Happy Mondays attended a fantastic morning in St Joseph’s Parish Centre 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 an opportunity to hear from Liam Logan, who is well known as a leading Ulster-Scots enthusiast and commentator. Liam, originally from Dunloy, has made a significant contribution Ulster Scots as a speaker, broadcaster, journalist, and writer. As part of his talk, he spoke about the key phrases in Ulster Scots in everyday use, and the connections of placenames in the Dunloy area to Ulster Scots.
Liam said: “It was a delight 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 reared and schooled. My old primary school headmaster, Colm McAlarey, was a great fan of the poet, the Reverend W.F. Marshall, a Presbyterian minister from Omagh and Master McAlarey often recited his Ulster Scots poetry in school. I had the privilege of reading an Andy Dooey poem, written round the early 1900s, given to me by Charlie Gillen, the Bard of Dervock, called "The Burn Atween Doods Lan an Oors.”
“Andy Dooey was a poet from Dunloy who wrote poetry in both Irish and Ulster Scots. Dunloy is also the birthplace of James Fenton, a son of Balinaloob, who is regarded as the godfather of Ulster Scots, all making Dunloy the perfect place for this event.”
Concluding the session, the audience had a chance to enjoy performances from Caoimhe ni Chathail, Jonny Murphy and Frank Cassidy. Jonny spoke about the connection and cross over between different tunes and songs while Caoimhe performed some beautiful renditions from the Sam Henry collection along with a demonstration of mouth music.
“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 from Dhún Lathaí Comhaltas, who hosted the session, said: “Dunloy Comhaltas was delighted to be invited to host this event. The discussion on Earrach, Spring, traditions and the music, poetry and stories connected with it was an informative and entertaining morning. Go raibh maith agat, thank you, to everyone who attened and I hope Dunloy Comhaltas can welcome all back again soon.”
The event was part of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Good Relations Hear Here programme which explores Ulster Scots and Irish culture, tradition and heritage. The programme is supported by the Executive Office and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council through the District Council’s Good Relations Programme, as part of the wider Together: Building a United Community.