By Zahra Baz
Three young Causeway harpers will be taking to the stage this weekend for the Harps Alive/An Chruit Bheo/Harps Leevin 2022 festival.
Mollie Flack (14), Phoebe Kelly (14) and Hannah Thompson (12), are students of renowned harper Katy Bustard and are studying at her Causeway Harp School.
The festival will see harpers and historians from across the island of Ireland join forces this month to celebrate the 230th anniversary of the first Belfast Harpers’ Assembly in 1792 with five days of music and heritage in a unique cross-community series of events, opening at Mussenden Temple this weekend and concluding in Dublin on July 24th with a commemoration of the life of Edward Bunting.
The festival is the product of a joint north-south project aiming to commemorate, celebrate and educate people on the cultural history, heritage and development of Irish harping. The main schedule of events will take place in locations throughout Belfast’s inner city from July 15-17.
On July 9, Mussenden Temple will feature a three-hour programme at the Denis Hempson: The Harper & His Legacy event presented by historian Mark Doherty and Limavady’s Fiona Pegrum QG.
Young Co Antrim harpers Mollie, Phoebe and Hannah will be among the performers of the Causeway Harp Ensemble with their teacher Katy Bustard leading.
They will be joined by harper Aoibheann Devlin, who will perform on a copy of the Downhill Harp, and the Scoil Ruaidhri Dall harp ensemble led by harper Nodlaig Brolly.
Mollie found herself inspired by teacher Katy Bustard three years ago after attending a harp workshop in Portballintrae; one that kickstarted her interest and passion for traditional Irish harp music. Two years later, Mollie has achieved her Grade 5 in the instrument and is currently working on conquering Grade 6, a task she deems as her biggest challenge thus far.
“I’ve only been playing for two years and it’s stressful to do grades, but I know I’ll get the outcome that I want if I put in the hard work and dedication”, Mollie said.
“I really look up to my harp teacher, Katy Bustard. It’s because of her encouragement and amazing teaching that has got me to where I am today. I love how much she enjoys playing her harp and teaching; I’ve really learnt a lot from her.
“I’m really excited to be performing at the event as part of the Harps Alive Festival 2022. I think the festival is an amazing opportunity for young musicians, and helps others to love and enjoy our music too.
“I think if I had to give advice to other young people, it would be to never give up, even if you fail. Things will get much better. One failure is just a lesson for the future.”
For Phoebe, she followed in her sister’s footsteps as she began to play the harp at nine years of age. After moving to Causeway Harp School in August 2021, Phoebe has found herself surrounded by unrivalled support from the teachings of Katy.
With an ongoing passion for traditional Irish music, Phoebe regularly plays the harp at her church and maintains membership at the North Coast Trad, wherein she explores playing traditional music with a wide range of instruments. It is through this unbridled passion and dedication that has led to Phoebe’s performances in her church concert and at the North Coast Trad Concert in Flowerfield Arts Centre.
“I’m delighted to be performing at the ‘Denis Hempson, the Harper and his Legacy’ event as part of the Harps Alive Festival. With the beautiful scenery at Mussenden, I believe it will be a very memorable experience for everyone involved”, said Phoebe.
“It’s really encouraging being offered the opportunity to play the harp for different events, so I’m very excited.
“My advice to other young harpers would be to just give it a try! You might be surprised by what you can achieve.”
After being presented with the opportunity to learn the harp when she was just six years old, Hannah quickly found herself falling in love with the traditional instrument. Fast forward six years and Hannah is a student at Causeway Harp School, where she has achieved her Grade 5 in harp, a task she regards as her biggest achievement to date.
“Even though I’ve got my Grade 5, I’ve been trying to work on my sight reading skills. The traditional harp is played by ear, which I’m finding to be a little more difficult than I first thought,” shared Hannah.
“It’s just part of learning the traditional harp. I love being transported by the music, it’s just magical.”
For more information go to http://harpsalive.com
5 Slow Food Causeway Events Happening In December
Enjoy good food alongside an unforgettable experience with Slow Food Causeway’s events happening in December.
Taste Causeway is an accredited Slow Food destination, one of only a handful of destinations in Ireland to be awarded the accolade by the global Slow Food Movement.
Originally founded in Italy during the 1980s to combine the regional traditions with the slow pace of life. Since then, the Slow Food movement has evolved worldwide and hopes to preserve the ‘unique culinary heritage’ of NI.
Slow Food Causeway celebrates the unique food and drink culture of the Causeway Coast.
Here is a quick overview of the Slow Food Causeway events happening in December:
1. Gifts from the Kitchen by Broughgammon Farm
Sunday 5th December, 11am
There’s nothing quite like a homemade, edible gift to celebrate the festive season so Broughgammon Farm have gathered together some of their most beloved recipes for delicious and luxurious edible treats. In this class we will be making an array of delectable items, perfect for gifting or just to enjoy yourself! You’ll leave with plenty of ideas, recipes as well as treats that you will be making throughout the morning.
For more information go to https://www.broughgammon.com/events/gifts-from-the-kitchen/?occurrence=2021-12-05
2. A Taste of Mussenden by Mussenden Sea Salt
Thursday 9th December, 7pm – 10:30pm
An evening of luxury dining where sustainability meets great Slow Food taste on Thursday 9th December at Mussenden Temple.
Mussenden Temple opened its doors for the first time on Friday 5th November, offering exclusive dining experiences.
National Trust, in partnership with Mussenden Sea Salt, are back for a second time offering another opportunity this year to dine at one of Northern Ireland’s iconic landmarks.
The menu for the evening has been crafted by Paula McIntyre MBE, the President of Slow Food NI and her menu will feature a showcase of local food and drink producers from the Taste Causeway Network.
For more information go to https://www.tastecauseway.com/event/a-taste-of-mussenden-by-mussenden-seasalt/
3. Causeway Coast Foodie Tours Spirit of the Bann
18th and 31st December, 3:15pm – 5:15pm
The award winning Causeway Coast Foodie Tours are embracing the winter season by hosting you on a very special ‘The Spirit of the Bann’ river whiskey tasting experience along the picturesque river.
‘The Spirit of the Bann’ along with White River Charters are hosting a cosy afternoon full of winter inspired whiskey flavours accompanied by an array of tasty award-winning local Slow Food produce.
Where better to celebrate our unique Slow Food food and drink heritage than via a journey on the River Bann alongside the beautiful site of Mountsandel, Coleraine.
4. North Supper Club by Ursa Minor at Glenshesk Barn
Saturday 18th December, 7pm to late
We’re all long overdue for a special, unique night out; get festive with us at our casual and relaxed evening with friends and enjoy a delicious feast, celebrating the best local produce with Ciara from Ursa Minor. Enjoy three courses of beautiful seasonal food served under twinkling lights and candlelight in an unbelievably special location five minutes from Ballycastle.
After dinner we’re very excited to bring you some of the finest voices on the island right now; the stunning vocal harmonies of Lemoncello; superb Dublin poet & playwright Stephen James Smith & the enthralling experimental folk artist Joshua Burnside.
For more information go to https://www.northfeast.co.uk/
5. Slow Food Christmas at The Arcadia
Sunday 19th December, 7pm – late
Join in on the festive cheer at The Arcadia with Slow Food Causeway director Paula McIntyre MBE where you will be taken on a festive culinary adventure.
Let your taste buds be blessed at Paula McIntyre’s Slow Food Christmas where she will showcase the finest of Taste Causeway’s European influenced produce such as Guiseppe Guisti Balsamic, Slow Food Presidia Red Cow parmesan cheese and charcuterie from Corndale Farm.
Guests who attend the Slow Food Christmas at The Arcadia will get to recreate Paula McIntyre MBE’s delicious recipes from the six-course Italian inspired menu.
For more information, go to https://www.tastecauseway.com/event/slow-food-causeway-christmas-at-the-arcadia/
The Causeway Coast and Glens is Northern Ireland’s first accredited Slow Food destination, Taste Causeway, the collaborative network of local food and drink businesses was awarded the accolade by the global Slow Food Movement following a rigorous assessment process.
To launch and celebrate this prestigious award Taste Causeway is running a six month programme of events, dining experiences, tours and special menus.
Taste Causeway is delivering Slow Food Causeway with funding from Tourism NI in partnership with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.
For more information go to tastecauseway.com/slow-food-causeway or follow the hashtags #SlowFoodCauseway and #TasteCauseway
Positive Impact of Good Relations Projects
The Executive’s commitment towards the delivery of good relations projects in 2021/22 is another key step towards building a united and shared society, Ministers have said.
First Minister Paul Givan and Education Minister Michelle McIlveen were speaking in Limavady during a visit to a T:BUC Camp being delivered by Roe Valley Residents Association. There they saw first-hand how the Executive’s Together: Building a United Community Strategy is actively bringing young people from different backgrounds and traditions together.
First Minister Paul Givan said: “The amazing work of initiatives such as the T:BUC Camp delivered by Roe Valley Residents Association is an example of how T:BUC funding is helping to engender real and lasting societal change.
“The T:BUC Camps Programme is inspiring. It is a great example of the incredible good relations work that is helping to bring about positive change across so many communities here.
“The Camps Programme is a key headline action of the T:BUC Strategy and reflects the Executive’s ongoing commitment to ending division and improving community relations. The camps bring people of different backgrounds and traditions together for shared activities. This not only breaks down barriers in the present, but has a profound and lasting impact in creating a better future.
“This effort plays a key role in helping us continue the journey towards creating a more united and shared society.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “The amazing work being carried out through the T:BUC Camps programme and across the wider T:BUC Strategy is helping to bring people from different cultural traditions together and engender real and lasting societal change.
“The Executive is committed to the good relations journey and to continuing to support projects working towards our goal of creating a truly equal and shared society where everyone can live together, free from intolerance, discrimination and prejudice.”
Education Minister Michelle McIlveen added: “The T:BUC Camps programme is an important initiative which demonstrates what can be achieved through a joined up approach involving The Executive Office, the Department of Education and the Education Authority, bringing together young people from different community backgrounds.
“For some young people a T:BUC Camp can be the first opportunity to come together on a cross-community basis to meet people they may not otherwise do. It is an opportunity to take part in an exciting programme as well as making new friends.
“I hope there are some young people here today who will want to build on the experience gained in their involvement in the T:BUC camps programme and I would encourage that very much.”