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In a year of change and turbulence, the Festival explores exchange through art, conversation, music and history, how it connects communities and crosses borders.
A series of events examine how exchange has played out through conflict, cultural exchange and artistic practice, while diverse conversations expose dual-heritage lives, reconciliation and collective trauma.
Irish Comedian and TV presenter Patrick Kielty headlines the programme with a special event, Hard Histories, Positive Futures. Kielty, whose father was killed by paramilitary gunmen in 1988, made a BBC documentary to mark 20 years of the Good Friday Agreement My Dad, The Peace Deal and Me. Here, he interviews representatives from Northern Ireland’s Commission for Victims and Survivors. Established in 2005, the Commission is active in reconciling Ireland’s divisions and handling the collective trauma of The Troubles. Our event asks: what is its role and how are the voices of victims and survivors of The Troubles heard?
In a separate event, award winning former CNN correspondent, Mike Chinoy, discusses his new biography of Kevin Boyle, co-founder of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. In Are You With Me? Kevin Boyle and the Rise of the Human Rights Movement Mike explores Kevin’s role in creating the intellectual argument for the Good Friday Agreement and his actions as advisor to Mary Robinson. Mike also questions the parallels between Northern Ireland’s troubled history and its status now, during the Brexit upheaval, alongside how yesterday’s lessons inform our world view today, especially during the turbulence of 2020.
Music is central to both Liverpool Irish Festival and the idea of cultural exchange. Cork-based independent music label Unemployable Promotions stage a musical showcase of their roster of artists, providing a flavour of Cork’s music scene and laying the foundation for a great Liverpool-Cork exchange in future.
Later, we hear from multi-award winning Irish singer and musician Colm Keegan, best known as one of the principal singers in PBS’s sensation show: Celtic Thunder, which led to him meeting his soon-to-be musical partner and wife, Glaswegian cellist Laura Durrant.
Outdoor walks and tours remain a valuable part of Liverpool Irish Festival, exploring -on foot- the city’s Irish heritage. Alongside walking tours in Scotland Road, home to one of the city’s most deep rooted Irish communities, and the South Liverpool Walk, a third marks the Irish Famine. City of Hunger, City of Gold meets at the Irish Famine memorial in St Luke’s gardens and walks to Central Library.
Walkers will learn about the history of the Irish community via a vanished church, pubs, statues, a 200 year old school and some of Britain’s finest Victorian architecture. Amongst it all, shipping magnates, street urchins, priests, politicians and a jazz legend. Walkers will visit St George’s Plateau, the scene of many momentous events, and St John’s Gardens, to reflect on the Victorians commemorated there. NB: the walks are subject to Covid-19 regulations. At the time of writing restrictions permit socially distanced outdoor gatherings/continuing education workshops, but remain under review.
In a new Meet the Maker series, the Festival introduces online audiences to artists, creators and crafters of Liverpool and Irish heritage, for a knowledge exchange and Q&A. Biographer Carmen Cullen; writer, poet and historian Greg Quiery; Réamonn Ó Ciaráin, a leading expert in Cú Chulainn and Gaelic translation and musician Terry Clarke-Coyne create individual online events exploring and celebrating their art.
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