AFTER a long period of enforced inaction (or, more accurately, behind-the-scenes action), committee members at the Old Church Centre, Cushendun, have put together a dazzling assortment of weekend events and activities to launch their autumn and winter programme.
September is going to be Culture Month in Cushendun, so it’s appropriate that proceedings begin on Saturday 4 with a poetry workshop and then evening reading by Damian Gorman, long-term former resident of the Glens, whose work is well-known to poetry lovers in Ireland and beyond.
The Old Church Centre’s contribution to European Heritage Weekend, which runs from 11-12 September, will see the revival of our popular annual Book Fair, once more to be held in Glenmona House, and running from Saturday morning to 5pm on Sunday.
The usual wide range of titles, fiction and non-fiction will be on sale, and pop-up coffee and cake facilities will provide sustenance while readers deliberate about their choices.
The committee is delighted to announce that Charles Brett’s important Five Big Houses of Cushendun has been re-issued and will be launched on the morning of Saturday 11; Randal McDonnell and Kerry Goyer will speak in honour of the occasion. Since there will be several invited guests at this event, there is a limited supply of tickets available; anyone with an interest in attending is advised to book early.
The launch will be followed by Jude McNeill’s guided tour of the five Big Houses, and then by a reading by Virginia Brownlow, daughter of Molly Keane, granddaughter of Moira O’Neill, and herself a poet. Virginia and her cousin David Skrine have agreed to take part in a discussion after the reading.
Events will draw to a close on Sunday afternoon with a story-telling workshop hosted by Janice Witherspoon and Stephen O’Hara. The focus will be on women in mythology, history and ordinary life.
The theme of the weekend of 18 and 19 September is the history of Irish-speaking in the Glens of Antrim. A screening of Mná na nGlinntí, an Imagine Media programme for BBC Gaelige, on Saturday morning will be introduced by two of its producers, Méabh Nic Alastair and Noel Russell.
Jude McNeill will then lead a short walking tour of Glendun, after which musician Micheál Sands will give a class entitled Beginners’ Irish, communicating something of the flavour of the language and interspersed with some Gaeltacht songs.
Micheál will return on Saturday night to lead a session which will also feature some local performers. This will be a BYOB event.
Some distinguished speakers have been secured for a Sunday afternoon panel discussion of the theme. UCD Professor of Irish and Irish Folklore Regina Ní Chollatáin, who has carried out extensive research into the role of some Glenswomen in the Gaelic Revival, will be joined by UCC’s Dr Sorcha Nic Lochlainn, part of whose doctoral thesis explored the history of Irish in the Glens.
The conversation will be led by Cushendall’s Paul McAlister, who also has considerable expertise in this area, and there will be time set aside for submissions from local people who have lived experience of Irish-speaking in the Glens. This is an important and timely event for which a large turn-out is expected, so, when booking opens, immediate registration is recommended.
CBPT gratefully acknowledges the support of the Esme Mitchell Trust, which provided funding for the re-publication of Five Big Houses of Cushendun. Thanks also to our core funders, the National Heritage Lottery Fund and CC&G BC, for their continuing support for the Old Church Centre. We are highly indebted to our friends at Imagine Media for their permission to show Mná na nGlinntí.
All events are subject to Covid restrictions. Times and prices may be found on the website www.theoldchurchcentre.com, and online booking opens on http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/cushendunbpt