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The Gathering Festival Hailed A Success For Sailortown Belfast

Organisers over the moon after a packed weekend

Sailortown Regeneration is celebrating after a successful Gathering festival saw the area flooded with residents, former residents and those sampling the historic area of Belfast for the first time.

The festival which took place from June 9th to 12th saw headline acts such as Brian Kennedy amongst a weekend long celebration of the dockside area focused on the rejuvenated St Joseph’s Church, which is now a community hub for Sailortown.

The four-day festival was hailed by organisers as an outstanding success, seeing the area drawing thousands of people to its venues and sampling the history that makes it unique.

“Feedback was hugely positive,” said organiser Terry McKeown, Project Manager of Sailortown Regeneration. 

“Former residents were delighted to meet up and rekindle old memories and friendships. 

“Local residents loved the vibe and positivity on their streets and especially enjoyed the boxing, bingo and the outdoor music and activities.”

From radio and TV stars Hugo Duncan and Johnny Hero to Joe Lindsay, and historical exhibitions to choral performances there was a packed programme that builds upon the iconic nature of the area, including sessions in the American Bar, the Docker’ Club, Pat’s Bar, the Flying Angel and St Joseph’s.

“Visitors ranged from many who didn’t know the area and were enthralled by the heritage and stories as well as returners who were delighted to see Salortown coming back to life,” said Terry. 

“All were extremely impressed with our progress on reopening St Joseph’s, the range and variety of activities and the revival of old Sailortown traditions.”

With a pet pageant, theatre performances, an exhibition of the boxing heritage and several trad music sessions, Terry was delighted to see so many turn out for the festival.

“At Sailortown Regeneration we are over the moon that our Gathering was such a success and was a great tribute to 150 years of St Joseph’s Parish, passing on the baton from past generations to new,” she explained. 

“We’ll have more days like this as we bring Belfast’s Maritime Heritage to wider audiences and work along with the Harbour and the Maritime Mile to reanimate the Waterfront.

“The Gathering was backed by the Maritime Trust, Belfast City Council and Arts Council NI, who supported the costs of a huge range of events and activities and look forward to furthering collaboration as we progress to a full restoration of both Church and House.”

Terry added: “The festival was an opportunity for old friends and new to gather together, relive old memories and make new ones as we recreate renowned Sailortown events such as the Blessing of the Pets, St Joseph’s Boxing Club and the lively social scene in Belfast Docks. We’re building on the past to create a future in this iconic waterfront location.”

St Joseph’s has undergone years of restoration to convert the former church to a community hub, accessible for all, and a focus for community events.

Headliner, Brian Kennedy was delighted to be part of the Gathering as an event that he relished being part of especially given the venue of St Joseph’s as a repurposed church and now a community hub.

“Churches, over the centuries, are one of the most special places to sing,” Brian said. 

“Architecturally they seem to be built for that reason. The sound quality and the height of the ceilings, lend themselves to performances.

“It was like you’re singing to the saints and angels. Before I even looked at the audience that might be here, already you have an angelic audience waiting for you. 

“I think it’s really fitting that St. Joe’s is getting a brand-new breath of life, and part of the breath of life is playing music and singing back into the walls.”

Further events are planned over the coming months, and Sailortown Regeneration looks forward to seeing many come to experience what the historic part of Belfast can offer.

Organisers wish to thank those that gave their time including Belfast City Blues Festival management team; Gerard O’Donnell, (creative designer), Tony McAllister – Patsy Quinn Gym Newington, North Belfast Men’s Shed, Belfast Harbour Police and property team, Maritime Trust staff, and the local community and businesses as well as Hazlett, Adam, Matthew, Lauren, Sinéad, Cliodhna, Conor, Alison and all those who came to Sailortown over the four days. 

They also extended thanks for all sponsorship and donations from the American Bar, Ben Madigan, Benny’s Café, the Dockers Club, Direct Wine Shipments, Fortwilliam fruit and veg, Ger O’Donnell photographer, McKenna’s Bar, Wholistic Works and Paul Carlin Hair.

Belfast City

29 Artists Taking Part In The 2022 Belfast City Blues Festival

Running from June 24-26, the Guinness Belfast City Blues Festival will be taking place in venues across the city, coming back in full swing after a virtual event in 2020 and a successful run in 2021/22 at The Guinness Blues Café at the Deer’s Head.

The three-day festival allows for both established and budding blues artists to demonstrate their talents across 24 venues, with audiences being able to pick from almost 70 gigs across the last weekend of June.

The Belfast Blues Festival 2022 is dedicated to the late Rab McCullough, Belfast blues legend, in addition to paying tribute to two of the festival’s major contributors over the years,  Gregory “Murph The Blues Brother” McGeown and James “Jamesy” Carson. 

This year, the Blues Festival is also supporting The People’s Kitchen, a Belfast-based charity which runs a food bank, delivers food to people in need all over the city, and supplies clothes and advice to families in need and those who are homeless.

Here are the 29 artists performing over the weekend:

1. The Rev Doc & The Flying Squad

Friday 24th June – Kelly’s Cellars

3.30pm – 6.30pm | Free Admission

2. Crow Black Chicken

Friday 24th June – Black Box

8pm | Admission £13

3. The Ronnie Greer Band

Friday 24th June – Granny Annies 

4pm – 6pm | Free Admission

4. Mike Wilgar & The Crack Pot Preachers

Friday 24th June – Ulster Sports Club

4.30pm – 7pm | Free Admission

5. Kick The Bucket Blues Band

Friday 24th June – The Dirty Onion

4.30pm – 6.30pm | Free Admission

Sunday 26th June – Ulster Sports Club 

3.30pm – 6pm

6. Frank Carberry Blues Set 

Friday 24th June – 2 Taps Restaurant

4.00pm – 6.30pm | Table Bookings Essential

Saturday 25th June – St George’s Market

11.00am – 2.30pm | Free Admission

7. Speedy Mullan Blues Band 

Friday 24th June – Whites Garden

4.00pm – 6.30pm | Free Admission

Saturday 25th – The John Hewitt

3.30pm – 6pm | Free Admission

8. The Robin BiBi Band

Friday 24th – The John Hewitt

9.30pm – Late | Free Admission

Saturday 25th June – The Dirty Onion

4pm – 6.30pm | Free Admission

Saturday 25th June – Common Market

9pm – 11pm | Free Admission

Sunday 26th June – Granny Annies

4pm – 6pm | Free Admission

End Of Festival Wrap Party with Special Guests – all profits to The People’s Kitchen

Sunday 26th June – The Deer’s Head

Doors 7pm | Admission £10

9. The Unholy Gospel Band

Friday 24th June – Common Market

6.30pm – 8.30pm | Free Admission

10. Otis & The Elevators

Friday 24th June – FLAXX…Social Village

6.30pm – 9pm | Free Admission

11. The Red Hot Roosters

Saturday 25th June – Kelly’s Cellars

3.30pm – 6pm | Free Admission

The Annual Rock n Roll Party

Sunday 26th – The John Hewitt 

3pm – 6pm | Free Admission

12. The Pat McManus Band

Remembering Rory

Saturday 25th June – Black Box

Doors 1pm | Admission £14

13. Sam Davidson’s Taste

Remembering Rory

Saturday 25th June – Black Box

Doors 1pm | Admission £14

14. The Willie Byrne Band

Remembering Rory

Saturday 25th June – Black Box

Doors 1pm | Admission £14

15. Symply Skynyrd

Saturday 25th June – Black Box

Doors 8.30pm | Admission £12

16. The Rev Doc Duo

Dedicated to Rab McCullough

Saturday 25th June – Ramada By Wyndham

9pm – Late | Free Admission

17. The Chris Taplin Blues Band

Saturday 25th June – Granny Annies

4pm – 6pm | Free Admission

Saturday 25th June – 39 Gordon Street

8pm – 10.30pm | Free Admission

Sunday 26th June – The Dirty Onion

4pm – 6.30pm | Free Admission

18. Tony Villiers & The Villains

Saturday 25th June – The Deer’s Head

Doors 2pm | Admission £10

19. Backbone Blues Band

Saturday 25th June – Ulster Sports Club

4pm – 6.30pm

20. Davy Watson Solo

Saturday 25th June – 2 Taps Restaurant

4pm – 6.30pm | Table Bookings Essential

21. Ian Sands & The Blues Katz

Saturday 25th June – Whites Garden

3.30pm – 6pm | Free Admission

Sunday 26th June – 39 Gordon Street

4pm – 6.30pm | Free Admission

22. The Ronnie Greer Band Featuring Anthony Toner

Saturday 25th June – FLAXX…Social Village

4.30pm – 7pm | Free Admission

23. The Sabrejets

Sunday 26th June – Kelly’s Cellars

3.30pm – 6pm | Free Admission

24. LIGHT

Belfast’s Finest – An Afternoon With The Amazing LIGHT

Sunday 26th June – Black Box

Doors 1pm | Admission £10

25. Dom Martin & His Band

Sunday 26th June – The Deer’s Head

Doors 2pm | Admission £12

26. Brian Mc Kenna’s Swing Tribute

Sunday 26th June – St George’s Market

11.00am – 2.30pm | Free Admission

27. Terry Sharpe & Co

Sunday 26th June – 2 Taps Restaurant 

4.00pm – 6.30pm | Table Booking Essential

28. Taylor Sisk & Co

Soul R&B Review

Sunday 26th June – Whites Garden

3.30pm – 6pm | Free Admission

29. The Lee Hedley Band

Sunday 26th June – Common Market

1.30pm – 3.30pm | Free Admission
For more information, festival listings and tickets log onto belfastcitybluesfest.com or connect with the Belfast City Blues Festival official Facebook page.

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Belfast City

Fionn’s Window Launches In Cathedral Quarter

Look up, Look Around, Look in as Ogham trail weaves around the art heart of Belfast

Visitors to Belfast’s historic Cathedral Quarter are invited to divine their way around the area in a journey of discovery and inspiration which has its origins in the Druidic traditions of our collective past and the mythology that has endured.

Following on from last year’s successful Ogham Grove installation for Culture Night, the Cathedral Quarter Trust (CQT) is presenting Fionn’s Window, named after Irish hero Fionn MacCumhaill, a warrior chieftain and druid. Fionn’s Window launches today (June 21st), to mark the Summer Solstice.

Project creative lead, Gawain Morrison, explained the concept behind Fionn’s Window,

“Fionn is said to have recognised that human life was only a small part of the larger rhythms around us,” he said. 

“Fionn’s Window is the equivalent of a Tibetan mandala, a diagram of the psychic universe, helping to provide an insight into your inner self and an observational view on your place within the universe.” 

Fionn’s Window comprises a series of hand-made wooden plaques, representing each of the twenty-five Ogham characters. The plaques have been placed in various locations around the Cathedral Quarter, enabling visitors to divine their own journey and answer their own personal questions.

Cathedral Quarter Trust and Culture Night Belfast director Susan Picken, explained that this will be an ongoing installation over the next six months. 

“It’s lovely to be able to revisit the fascinating Ogham Tree Alphabet. For Fionn’s Window we are inviting people to use the Ogham symbols and their meanings as a way of divining their own personal journey – answering life questions or solving personal dilemmas. 

“They can do this by finding four different plaques in the Cathedral Quarter, looking up the QR code on their phone for each plaque and identifying the meaning of the symbols that are revealed to them. The plaques have been placed in a range of locations across the Cathedral Quarter, each with a link to the arts, culture and heritage of the area and each plaque is inscribed with an Ogham symbol and a QR code. 

“It’s an innovative, fun way of asking the universe a question and exploring the Cathedral Quarter at the same time.”

Complementing Fionn’s Window a series of ‘artist offerings’ have been commissioned, linking in with the key festivals of the Ogham tradition. Gawain was keen to draw on the success of last year’s spectacular installation as inspiration for these.

“The Cathedral Quarter is the cultural heart of Belfast, with arts organisations, venues, galleries, and amazing street art produced by local and international artists,” he explained. 

“I wanted my Summer Solstice artist offering to celebrate this beautiful creativity and the potency of life in the area whilst referencing the Ogham Grove that launched me on this journey.

“Look Up, Look Around, Look In was the phrase attached to all things Ogham that we produced. To pay attention to the spaces we live our lives in, whether we have let them decline, want them to thrive, feel they need some love or are spaces that embody the creative energy of our communities.”

Alongside this divining trail, Gawain is producing an artist offering for each of the eight Fire Festivals, the first of which is the Summer Solstice, celebrating these important cycles in our solar year.

The Fionn’s Window trail will run in the Cathedral Quarter from the Summer Solstice 2022 through to the Winter Solstice on 21st December, and people can take part in the trail, asking as many questions as they want and divine their journeys as often as they want during that time.

Gawain is also producing a small piece of art for each Fire Festival during the year as his offering to these solar cycles.

To find out more about Fionn’s Window, go to https://www.oghamgrove.com/

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