Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Good Relations team held a special event in Ballycastle for its ‘Here Hear’ participants to coincide with the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival.
Encouraged by the success of their Nollaig/Yuletide and Earrach/Spring gatherings, the group got on board to explore shared traditions through music, song, poetry, and words which connect us to our coastal communities.
This latest event took place in the festival’s Seafront marquee where picturesque views of Rathlin, Fairhead and Kinbane inspired all those taking part. Dr Niall Comer looked at the theme of place names and now they have been shaped by time and events, enthusing listeners with local information and translations from the Irish language.
Ulster Scots speaker Liam Logan, being in Ballycastle just ‘ower the sheugh frae Scotia’, reached into his treasure chest of poetry and words to entertain everyone with something familiar to us all.
The event sailed nicely on to the coastal inspired poetry of Anne McMaster who talked of being at the water’s edge and how we can all relate to that. This excerpt below shows how beautifully Anne writes in Ulster Scots with the English following:
‘Wun ower water
Tha hoag o sault in tha air.
All we ken is here’
‘Wind across water
The scent of salt in the air.
All we know is here’
Michael Ó Seanáin (Michael Sands) delved into the connections of people and place. His quizzical poem about ‘Where are you from?’ told the humorous tale of two who meet. This poem resonated with those who, like the poem’s protagonist, cannot simply answer this question on a first attempt!
Congratulating those who took part, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Councillor Ivor Wallace: “Our Ulster Scots and Irish language enthusiasts have enjoyed this important engagement opportunity and I want to commend all those involved for creating such an enriching experience.
The Hear Here programme has proven to be very popular and through its different themes our speakers and guests have helped us to explore cultural elements which connect us all.
Gael na Glinntí Irish language Development Officer Deirdre Goodlad who worked with Ballycastle Community Development Group to organise the event, said: “The poetry, words and place-names shared are all a part of our journey whether by sea or ashore, they shape us and we shape them. I too love being by the water and feel inspired by these wonderful speakers. An event like this shines the sun on the surface in a new light and lets our shared connections to each other wash over our toes a little more.”
Traditional music was provided by the Sands family with young Tola leading the tunes on the uilleann pipes. Deirdre sang a blend of Donegal’s ‘Trasna na dTonnta’ which means ‘Across the waves’ and the Scots song ‘Westering Home’ to open the event and to finish, accompanied by Michael Sands, guests were treated to verses of ‘Fear a Bhata’ in Gaidhlig, Gaeilge/Irish, and a Rathlin version found in the collection ‘Songs of the People’ by Sam Henry.
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.