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The Arts

Spectacular Ogham Grove Opens Tonight In Cathedral Quarter

Cathedral Quarters Writers’ Square will tonight (September 17) be transformed into a spectacular installation from the creative team for CNB21 Presents: The Ogham Grove.

From 6pm tonight through until Sunday evening visitors can experience an interactive celebration of the ancient druidic language, with massive representations of trees, sounds and lighting weaving a path of learning about the language and the chance to win prizes.

Ogham Grove replaces the previous city centre based programme of street based activity and pop-up events.

Although the plans for this year are monumental in size, Culture Night Belfast and CQ Trust director Susan Picken said visitors should not expect the same on-street celebration as years gone by.

Prior to the pandemic, Culture Night had been one of Belfast’s largest free events, a cultural celebration that attracted almost 90,000 local, national and international visitors to the Cathedral Quarter and Belfast city centre. The impact of COVID has led to a major review of the event however.

Susan said: “Culture Night 2021 will be much smaller in scale and scope and will take the form of an on-site installation that people can drop into and enjoy over the course of the weekend – this different format will allow us to focus on safety as well as making sure everyone has a great time.”

The brains behind the concept include creative lead Gawain Morrison, artist and prop designer Dylan McCaughtry, designer Neil Beattie, lighting designer Tomás FitzGerald and drum loop producer Damian Mills.

Gawain Morrison said that the concept of The Ogham Grove “draws inspiration from the ancient Celtic Ogham Tree alphabet which dives deep into the era where nature and myths intertwined”. 

This year, as well as experiencing The Ogham Grove itself, visitors will be able to take part in an accompanying interactive experience that will lead them through the Cathedral Quarter, and also take them on a journey of personal discovery.

According to Gawain the immersive nature inspired trail and competition will mean visitors can take something special away from the experience.

“For somebody who will be coming to this, the several points of access means it is going to be a very experiential and sensory experience,” he explained. 

“I hope that as visitors walk around whether it’s in the day or night, that they will take something away from it.”

Across the Cathedral Quarter area, there will be five zones each representing one of the five families of the Ogham alphabet.

To be eligible to win a prize, participants must find and scan a QR code found on one of the trail’s bespoke wooden plaques and take note of the lines of poetry displayed.

Prizes to be won include vouchers for restaurants, gift tokens to purchase your own pieces of art and tickets to shows coming up in the Cathedral Quarter and will be announced at the end of the Culture Night weekend.

This year’s Culture Night Belfast is supported by Belfast City Council, Arts Council for Northern Ireland, Tourism NI, Belfast Harbour Commissioners and Translink.

To keep up to date with all the CNB Presents The Ogham Grove updates go to or follow #CNB21 on social media

Issued by Excalibur Press on behalf of CNB Presents: The Ogham Grove 

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The Arts

NI100 Art Competition Launched

Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen, has launched a NI100 Art Competition for schools across Northern Ireland.

The competition will include pre-schools, primary, post-primary and special and will run from 11 October until 15 November 2021.

The art competition forms part of the Department’s NI100 Education Programme, which includes a range of shared history resources, a coding programme for primary school pupils, NI100 time capsules and a school 1921 celebration event

Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen said: “The aim of the NI100 Art Competition is for pupils to share their love for the stunning landscapes, natural beauty, people and places of Northern Ireland in 2021 and reflect on the meaning of home and family.”

Prizes of £200, £150 and £100 will be awarded for first, second and third across five age categories, as well as separate categories for pupils attending Special Schools. The school of the overall winner will receive £1,000 to spend on art materials for pupils.

A celebration event for the competition winners will be held in Parliament Buildings during December 2021.

The Minister concluded: “This is an exciting opportunity for children and young people across Northern Ireland to participate in a centenary art competition. It is a great way to motivate young artists, showcase their talents and further develop their creative skills.”

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The Arts

Colin Murphy Returns to The Alley with brand new show ‘Colinization’

Colin Murphy is coming back to grace the stage of The Alley Theatre on Saturday 23rd October with his tour ‘Colinization’ which is guaranteed to bring laughter. 

Hailing from Downpatrick, funny man Colin has become a household name for many. As a resident panellist on the award-winning BBC series The Blame Game and RTE’s The Panel, Colin is known for his quick wit and local humour.

Since his last tour he has had a DNA test, become an artist, been to a funeral and built a shed, so the question is; who the hell do you think you are? Colin will have you crying with laughter, so don’t miss out.

Colin started out his stand-up career as a compere at the Queen’s University Belfast Queen’s Comedy Club Night, and subsequently began touring venues across the world from Montreal to Melbourne, and Beijing to Ballybofey.

In 1998 he featured in the cult classic Divorcing Jack, and has also developed programmes for RTE, including hosting & co-writing the surreal clip show Blizzard of Odd and the mockumentary series, The Unbelievable Truth.

Louise Boyce, Venue Manager at the Alley Theatre, commented: “We are thrilled to have Colin Murphy back at the Alley Theatre. 

“Colin will be the first comedian to return since our reopening after the lifted government Covid-19 restrictions.  It has been a hard 18 months and I think everyone would agree, we all need a good laugh and a good night out with a bit of ‘craic’ and no better comedian than the witty Colin Murphy. 

“We are thrilled to be back to full capacity and can’t wait to welcome audiences back.  The safety of our customers, staff and performers are key, therefore there will be safety measures in place on arrival and throughout the evening. Full details can be found on our website.”

Tickets for Colin Murphy are £20 and available from the Alley Theatre Box Office on 028 71 384444 or online

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