The line-up has been revealed for a packed seven hours of entertainment live streamed on St Patrick’s Day from 2pm celebrating cultural and historical heritage of Belfast’s Sailortown.
After years of restoration St Joseph’s Chapel has been transformed to a community hub that will host the event on March 17 from 2pm to 9pm.
Project manager for Sailortown Regeneration, Terry McKeown said music, dancing, storytelling and art will feature for this landmark occasion for Sailortown.
“We are delighted to have such a stellar line-up,” Terry said.
“The years of campaigning and hard work to open St Joseph’s deserve to be celebrated and we can promise that it will be a packed day that will have you not wanting to miss a minute.”
Several performances will be live broadcasted from St Joseph’s across two stages and all the acts will be introduced by U105 presenter and DJ, Johnny Hero.
Opening the day will be Dál Riada Folk, a three-piece band who will bring their selection of Irish folk songs, Irish and Scottish reels and jigs and modern folk.
Seamus Lavery of Dalriada Folk said: “Although I was not born in Sailortown I have a long association with St Joseph’s through Conradh na Gaelidhge.
“In more recent times I have been a supporter of the Save St Joseph’s campaign, playing with the band at fundraisers and a few years ago we played in the church when it was reopened.
Closing the proceedings is The Lee Hedley Band, whose inspired blues sets have delighted audiences across Europe, the States and North Africa for more than a quarter of a century and will now light up Sailortown.
Singer songwriters Amanda St John and Anthony Toner will be among the line up.
Anthony, who released his song Sailortown in 2008, added: “St Joseph’s is a beautiful building, the atmosphere of churches is always welcoming to musicians, I think – there’s a sense of the music rising up into the rafters that you don’t get in more traditional venues.
“The history of that part of the city adds another layer of importance to the place, and the exciting plans for its regeneration make it feel multi-layered, the past and the future of Sailortown collide right here, in this space, right now.
“It’s a pleasure to be part of such a wonderful bill of musicians and dancers and artists, to also see films included in the line up as well.”
Amanda added: “I’m really looking forward to performing at this event as I’m missing proper gigs so much. It’s exciting to have full stage sound & lighting set up and to be on the bill with so many other local talents.
“I’ll be performing acoustically with my piano player so it’ll be a very stripped back set of some of my favourite Irish ballads.”
The Heartbeat of North Belfast
A feature during the day will be the presentation of a video on Sailortown, recounting the history, and the battles to win the lease when the church was deconsecrated through to the ongoing work.
Singer songwriter, Ludwig O’Neill, is no stranger to Sailortown having campaigned to keep the Rotterdam and Pat’s Bar from development, will bring his dark, realistic folk and blues tunes to the party.
He said: “I am very pleased to have been included in this St Patrick’s Day event almost a year since I played there before.
“Sailortown is in my blood, it’s the heartbeat of North Belfast and over the years has been Belfast’s conduit to the rest of the world. St Joseph’s chapel has long been the spiritual hub of that area.”
This year’s St Patrick’s Day event is being funded by Intercom, The Executive Office and The Community Relations Council.
Terry said it’s a big turning point in the history of the chapel.
She added: “It’s about bringing people back to showcase the creative talent that’s in Belfast and celebrating the transformation of the Chapel on the quays to a community hub.”
A Showcase of Creative Talent
Also on the bill are musician and songwriter Hugh Jordan who is best known for his hit Road to Donegal about returning Irish-immigrants.
Award winning dancer and musician Edel Ní Churraoin will perform with the Sean Nos Dancers including a solo from Meabh Muir.
Other acts appearing include The String Ninjas, The Adventures, the Ferris School of Irish Dancers, Patrick Ryan, Seamus McPeak and Paul Dean.
“The rich cultural and historical heritage of Sailortown is something we look forward to celebrating on St Patrick’s Day,” said Terry.
“This will also be an event with an eye very much on the future at St Joseph’s and what we hope will be a vibrant future.”
St Patrick’s Day Live from Sailortown will be streamed live on a variety of social media platforms. All performances and the event will adhere to Covid-19 restrictions.For more information keep an eye on the Sailortown Regeneration Facebook page or at sailortownregeneration.com
‘Close to Home’ Exhibition Opens at Flowerfield Arts Centre
An exhibition by acclaimed artist Maurice Orr, inspired by the writings of Seamus Heaney, opens at Flowerfield Arts Centre on Wednesday 16th June 2021.
Through a series of large canvasses and smaller paintings, Maurice takes the viewer on an atmospheric journey through bog, stream, lough edges, rugged fields and dramatic skies as far as the eye can see. Using earthen colours, texture, panoramic vistas and scale as tools, the viewer is enveloped by the enchantment of Ireland’s rural landscape and in particular, the environment of Lough Neagh and Bellaghy which so nurtured the work of the Nobel Laureate.
Maurice Orr was born in England but grew up in Ballymena and now works from his studio in Armoy. He studied at the Belfast College of Art and Design in the 1970s before working as a graphic designer for the Northern Ireland Civil Service. He turned to oil painting after early retirement. In 2002, the artist won his first international residency and in 2003 was awarded the prestigious Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Banff Residency in Alberta, Canada. In 2011, he was commissioned to take part in the Cultural Olympiad Programme, a project that culminated in a unique, multi-sensory painting exhibition in various venues including the renowned Southbank Centre, London.
In the recent years, Maurice has been awarded residencies in Iceland, Australia and Vancouver Island. All of these varied landscapes have featured in his work but above all he loves the landscapes of home, never tiring of the changing seascapes of the North Coast or the rural hedgerows and fields of County Antrim.
Close to Home continues until Saturday 24th July 2021. Galleries are open Wednesday and Thursday, 10am – 4pm, Friday 10am-3pm and Saturday 10am-1pm.
For further information visit www.flowerfield.org
Newly Refurbished Grand Opera House Ready To Get Back to Business
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has welcomed the unveiling of major restoration works at the Grand Opera House, as work continues towards safely getting live audiences back into theatres.
In January 2020, the Grand Opera House closed for a £12.2million restoration and development project. The Department for Communities provided £524,000 capital funding, through Arts Council, for the purchase of new seating for the restoration project.
During a visit to the historic Belfast theatre, Minister Hargey said: “I’m delighted to see the redevelopment of one of our most iconic theatres.
“I’m looking forward to when performers from across the spectrum, including the world of musicals, comedy, dance, opera, ballet and pantomime will be able to get back on the stage and enjoy the reactions and applause from the audience.”
Since 2020, the Department and Arts Council has contributed more than £2m towards the Grand Opera House through a number of funding programmes including more than £700,000 in emergency Covid support.
Minister Hargey added: “These major renovations works will be key in drawing audiences back into live theatre, and helping to contribute to post-Covid social, economic, and cultural recovery.
“I will continue to do everything I can to help the sector during this hugely difficult time.”