Monday, 28 December 2015

The Undertones are back in town!

Last night saw Derry rocking to its very own musical legends, The Undertones. The Derry punk legends Michael Bradley, John O'Neill, Damian O'Neill, Billy Doherty and Paul McLoone brought the home audience to their feet with a classic musical trip down memory lane.
Prior to the gig I was outside watching as everyone arrived. It was a real treat to see young and old arrive together. At one stage I heard a young girl say, 'Grandad I'll wait here for my friend'. What a real family occasion it was turning out to be. There was of course the DM clad folk and the bomber jackets were out in force. Punk was back in town and The Undertones were at the fore!
From the onset at 10pm it was classic after classic and the home crowd were transported back in time. My Perfect Cousin opened the show. Young and old danced, clapped, jumped to the music. A little piece of musical heaven was happening in Derry. Immediately followed by The Girls don't like it and Jump Boys, it was a never ending river of song from the crowd.
I had wondered how this band would sound live (my first time seeing) minus the original Fergal Sharkey but I needn't have worried. Paul McLoone was every bit the star front man and vocally gave it all (albeit with bad throat and ill health). McLoone has taken over where Sharkey left off and excels not only in his vocals but in his sheer showmanship on stage. And on the Derry stage he was no stranger. The crowd loved him. And he loved them!
When the now Derry anthem Teenage Kicks set off, St. Columbs Hall was alive with musical genius. Watching the crowd from behind I could only see a swell of heads and arms punching to the music. The Undertones really were 'back in town' on this night.
On completion of I Don't Wana get over You, the lads left the stage saying the show was over. This audience were not deterred. The Undertones were not getting out of there alive if this was the case. A chant of  'olé' errupted and out walked the guys once more. We wanted more, and they did too! Michael Bradley announced that they had 'poured some Lourdes water down Pauls' throat' and so were ready to go again.
Throughout the night each and every audience member tried to help Paul outrun his bad throat. There was certainly more than just Paul McLoone with sore throats last night as the gig came to an end around 11.30pm. I know mine was certainly hoarse but worth it in every way.
Let's Talk about Girls rounded off the night. It rounded off a memorable night with one of the finest bands ever to come out of not only Derry, but Ireland in general. Punk will live on thanks to the wonderful music of The Undertones. Derry will forever be on the world music map, thanks to The Undertones. And many like myself will have a musical memory forever thanks to last night and The Undertones. Here's to many more of the same over 2016 as the band celebrate their 40th anniversary.
The Undertones were supported last night by local band, The Gatefolds.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Donegal Screenwriting Course

A Donegal based SCREENWRITING COURSE is back by popular demand in 2016. 
Do you dream about writing your own film script? Now's your chance to turn that dream into a reality. The course is being held at the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny starting on Saturday Janurary 16th for 6 weeks (Saturdays). Each week, the said course will run from 1 - 4pm.


Cost of the full course is just €99 or even better value for those coming across the border at just £70.
All levels of writers are welcome and for further details, contact Orla Walsh on 074-9129186, 085-1471631, or pm Orla Walsh on Facebook.
This would be an ideal Christmas present for that creative someone in your life!
Orla Walsh is Director at Northern Lights Film. Northern Lights Film is an acclaimed video production company based in Inishowen, Co. Donegal. 



Thursday, 10 December 2015

Aladdin helping Alzheimer's Society

Last night at The Millennium Forum in Derry I was not only impressed with the antics and shennanigans on stage with Aladdin, the Christmas Panto 2015 but with the discovery that this years panto is indeed helping those with dementia. Not only was the Forum collecting for The Alzheimer's Society after the production, but there will be a very special showing of a specially adapted version of the panto on Friday 18th December at 7.30pm.
This is a first for theatres in Ireland. The carefully adapted version of the Forum's biggest show of the year will aim to develop a way for those customers who have dementia and their families to enjoy a stress-free trip to the theatre by removing the barriers that exist in the mainstream production.
In consultation with local organisations and the West Yorkshire Playhouse who piloted a similar scheme recently in England, the Millennium Forum plans to modify the standard production of Aladdin to provide a more inclusive and welcoming experience. This means that the auditorium house lights will be adjusted so it is softer than ususal during the performance, sound effects will be reduced, special effects during the performance will be minimized to avoid overwhelming the audience and a 'quiet space' will be offererd for those customers who need to take time away from the performance.
I'm fortunate not to have been prone to this dibilitating illness within my family to date. I hope to continue in this way for some time to come. But I, like many, have known numerous people who have not been so fortunate. Dementia affects so many around us in the modern day. It strips people of the life they knew. And it strips their loved ones of the life they knew also.
Last night I had a tear in my eye on hearing of this connection between this year's panto and The Alzheimer's Society.
So when you visit the panto this year, give what you can to this very worthy cause. Give because it will help someone who is very much less well off that you are. Give because it's Christmas time. And give because it could be 'you'!
For bookings, contact the Box Office on 71264455 or visit www.millenniumforum.co.uk. For more information on the 'DF' or 'Relaxed Performances', contact Lisa Heaney (lisah@millenniumforum.co.uk)






Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Aladdin: Derry Panto 2015

I still can't believe that it really is 'that' time of year again. My festive season kicked off in style earlier tonight as I arrived at Derry's Millennium Forum for this years panto production. Aladdin, Widow Twankey, Princess Jasmine, Wishee Washee, The Genie and more were all there and larger than life on the Derry stage.
Tonight I was accompained by my cousin and her two children, aged 7 and 9. The little 7 year old had never been to a pantomime and was eagerly awaiting 'curtain up'. She told me she had read the book so knew what to expect. Boy was she surprised throughout the night!
At approximately 7.30pm it was indeed time for 'curtain up'. For the next three hours (including a 15 minute interval) it was laughs, claps and cheers from young and old.
I'm sure over 70% of the audience were indeed children but the inner child in every adult was very much present also (well it was in myself and my cousin!)
There was of course the base story of Aladdin but with so much more intertwined throughout the performance. I think seeing through a childs eyes is always best. Little Áine (7) was beside me. She laughed from start to finish and was mesmerised with Aladdin flying to Egypt. She just couldn't understand how he could fly on the mat. To see her believe this magic and the lady in the box magic during the performance, was magical to me.
Gerard McCabe as always, excelled in his performance as Wishee Washee. One could clearly see how much he was enjoying being on stage equally as much as we were enjoying watching. Mikey Jay Heath as Aladdin gave an equally brilliant performance. On occasion he and Gerard just couldn't help but laugh. Which of course added to our own laughter. And being easy on the eye always helps!!
Catriona McFeely portrayed the character of Princess Jasmine to perfection and her costumes were exquisite (I want that orange dress!). Keith Lynch (Abanazar), James Lecky (Emperor) and Gary Crossan (PC Pong) entertained in each role brilliantly. Of course the voice of The Genie (Ruairi McSorley) stole the show at times.
And on his 10th anniversary William Caulfield (Widow Twankey) was as ever a larger than life presence on the Derry stage. On donning the wig, dresses and make-up he really does take on a whole new life. And one we couldn't possibly change if one wanted to. Mind you I did feel sorry for the lady whose handbag he went through...twankey heavens it wasn't mine....he may have got a shock at the rubbish within!
Tonight I, alongside the Derry audience went to old Peking. We met the evil Abanazar who sought the magic lamp. We watched Aladdin save the day. But throughout it all we watched an amazing cast perform a wonderful Christmas panto. From the music of Ed Sheeran (Evergreen) to Kiss (Crazy Nights), this production had it all. There were kids jokes, there were adult jokes, there was something for everyone. And there was good old fashioned romance!
There was a perfect combination of fun amid wonderful singing and dance performances. The production showcased the abundance of talent that is in the city of Derry
But surely the song of the night has got to be 'The 12 Days of Christmas'. I'll never listen to the popular tune in the same way again. There will now always be '6 boxer shorts, 5 Toilet Rolls, 4 pairs of trousers, 3 string vests, 2 football tops and a bra that could only hold 3'....there was of course snotty hankies, smelly socks and more but the first day of Christmas will forever be etched with 'a bra that could only hold 3.' The laughter tears really were running down my cheeks.
If this is what William Caulfield can give us on this his 10th anniversary I can't wait to see what he gives us over the next 10 years! Earlier today Caulfield told me that he'll be doing Panto until his health prevents such....I can't imagine one without him in it now.
Tonight was summed up for me by the wonder in my little cousins eyes. She experienced real magic tonight. And because she experienced that magic, I did too.
The Derry panto, Aladdin runs at Derry's Millennium Forum until January 3rd. Book your tickets now and don't miss the show of the season. Call the Box Office on 71264455 or book online at www.millenniumforum.co.uk.




Dame Caulfield is back in Derry. It's Panto time!

William Caulfield is indeed back on the Derry stage for this years Christmas Panto at The Millennium Forum. Not only is Dame Caulfield back in his larger than life dresses, make-up and wig, but this year he is celebrating 10 years at the famous Derry Panto. 
Chief Executive of the Millennium Forum and Producer of the 
pantomime, David McLaughlin, siad: 
"We are delighted to welcome William back this year for what will surely be another memorable panto season. For the past ten years, he has been at the centre of the biggest show in the city's arts calendar and has played numerous roles including Buttons, Silly Billy, Captain Hook as well as many unforgettable Dames. He is a great hit with local audiences and we hope to see him grace our stage for many more pantos to come."
I was fortunate to catch up with Caulfield earlier today, prior to my attending the Panto tonight.
It was early on this Wednesday morning but his enthusiasm for the show even at this hour never faltered. "We've done 5 shows this year to date and now we're in full stride" he told me. 
I asked Caulfield what it is about Panto that he so clearly loves: "I just love doing Panto. Throughout the rest of the year I'm on my own when on stage. This can be a lonely time. I enjoy it but you drive to the show alone and you're on stage alone. Here at Panto season there's such a great comradeship with myself and the cast. Plus of course I'm not carrying the stage alone." He added, "Panto shortens the Christmas season for me. There is such a long build up to the festivities and I get to work right up to Christmas. Then I get Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day off and it's back to work again."
William Caulfield oozes passion for the Panto stage and admits to never getting nervous. "There's no point in me getting nervous" he tells me. "It's the front 5 rows of the audience that should be nervous! I do get apprehensive in that I hope I do my job well, but no, no nerves."
I must admit that last year was my first time seeing Caulfield in Panto. I made a promise to myself after that show that I wouldn't be missing it again for many years to come.
I asked William to describe his stage character for me. He laughs and describes 'her' as "absolutely nowt like me! William Caulfield is quite shy. Once the dress, the make-up and the wig goes on, I become a larger than life character. I become an entirely different person. The character arrives and then the voice comes."
Caulfield says that he loves Panto so much that if he ever won the Lotto, "no-one would know. I'd just carry on doing this as I love it."
So can we look forward to seeing himself on stage for another 10 years in Derry? "Only health or even death will stop me!" Just what the audience wants to hear. 
Dame Widow Twankey will be larger than life in the Millennium Forum's panto, Aladdin all over the Christmas season. All that's left for me to hope for is that I'm not in the front 5 rows tonight.
'Oh No I'm NOT. Oh Yes You ARE!'

Aladdin performs at the Millennium Forum until Sunday January 3rd. Book your ticket to see William Caulfield in his 10th Derry panto by calling the Box Office on 71264455 or visit www.millenniumforum.co.uk now!






Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Dirty Dancing is Derry bound!


When I think back to the 1980's there's only one film that never leaves my mind: Dirty Dancing was the highlight. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" are words that never date. Patrick Swayze as Johnny was my hero. We all wanted a man who would stand up for us. Johnny was he! A few years ago I saw the West End production of Dirty Dancing in Glasgow's West End. It was outstanding. I've been waiting patiently for it to come to Derry, never expecting it to do so. Earlier today I heard that my waiting was about to end. Dirty Dancing is coming to Derry. It's a bit of a wait but it's coming. Mid February 2017 is going to be one exciting time at The Millennium Forum in Derry.

The West End hit musical, Dirty Dancing, arrives in the city for the very first time from Mon 13th to Sat 18th Feb 2017.  The classic story of Baby and Johnny, featuring the hit songs 'Hungry Eyes', ‘Hey! Baby’, ‘Do You Love Me?’ and the heart stopping ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’, bursts onto the Millennium Forum stage following two blockbuster West End runs and two hit UK tours. Tickets go on sale from the Box Office on Fri 4th Dec.

Full of passion and romance, heart-pounding music and sensationally sexy dancing, the record-breaking musical is even better than before in this all new production created by an innovative new creative team; directed by Federico Bellone, Artistic Director of Milan’s Teatro Nazionale, choreographed by Gillian Bruce and with design re-imagined by top Italian set designer Roberto Cometti. The production premiered in Milan in July 2015, subsequently packing out the 15,000 seat Roman Arena in Verona, and will play a season in Rome this autumn before embarking on a major Italian tour. To mark the tenth anniversary of the original stage show, a new Australian tour was launched last year, and to date has sold a record 416,000 tickets since October 2014.

Since its Australian debut in 2004, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, has become a worldwide phenomenon, with productions staged in New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore and throughout Europe, consistently breaking box office records. After sell-out seasons in Paris and Vienna the show continues to tour in France and German speaking territories. It’s also currently wowing audiences in Italy, with each individual production using local French, German, and Italian speaking companies; the French tour alone has played to 500,000 people since it launched in January.

It’s the summer of 1963, and 17 year- old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing. On holiday in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents, she shows little interest in the resort activities, and instead discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles across an all-night dance party at the staff quarters. Mesmerised by the raunchy dance moves and the pounding rhythms, Baby can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle the resort dance instructor. Her life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady both on-stage and off, and two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives.


Dirty Dancing –The Classic Story On Stage originally opened at London’s Aldwych Theatre in 2006 with a record-breaking advance of £15 million, making it the fastest ever selling show in West End theatre history. The production became the longest running show in the history of the Aldwych Theatre and played to over 2 million people during its triumphant 5 year run.

The first ever UK tour of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, which launched in 2011, took an unprecedented £42,000,000 at theatres across the country. In 2013, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage returned to the West End and played at the Piccadilly Theatre in London until 23 February 2014, prior to launching a second UK and Ireland tour.

Produced by Karl Sydow, Joye Entertainment and Paul Elliott, in association with Lionsgate and Magic Hour Productions, and written by Eleanor Bergstein, script writer of the phenomenally successful 1987 film, the production features the much-loved characters and original dialogue from the iconic film, with exciting extra scenes added in.

Dirty Dancing performs at the Millennium Forum from Mon 13th to Sat 18th Feb 2017.  Tickets go on sale from the Box Office on Fri 4th Dec.  Telephone 71 264455 or visit www.millenniumforum.co.uk for bookings.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

MAGICAL MUSICAL MOMENTS

MAGICAL MUSICAL MOMENTS is a musical extravaganza which will be staged at The Plaza Ballroom in Buncrana on Friday night 11th December. This 'Night at the Musical's' is being produced by Jessica from Jessica's Academy of Performing Arts. Jessica is a young girl from Buncrana who not only acts and dances herself but is now teaching children her own skills and has recently opened her own Academy in Buncrana.
This night is set to raise funds for a young Buncrana boy, Jack Donaghey. Jack is just 5 years old and suffering from childhood cancer. Like many others, Jack has to travel to Dublin for his treatment. Jessica is staging this production to help Jack and his family with their ongoing care and treatment.
A night to remember is definitely in store. Not only because Jessica herself is an amazingly talented young lady, but she has instilled her own talent and ability in her young students.
Also on the night will be a host of surprise guests who will provide some exceptional music and song.
Tickets for this event can be purchased at: Card N'Candies, Lunch Box and Macs Bookshop in Buncrana. Tickets are priced at just €10 for adults and €5 for children.
Added to the lineup is 'Miss Donegal' who will host the evening.
This North West Culture Gal is certainly looking forward to the evening that is in store.

GMcC

'Frostbit' teenager for Derry Panto!


FROSBIT PANTO ROLE IS A ‘GENIE-US’

Book your tickets now, cos the craic will be fierce!

Just when you thought that panto season couldn’t get any more fun, the Millennium Forum has now revealed its latest cast member who will grant all your Christmas wishes this holiday season.   Ruairi McSorley, aka ‘Frosbit’, will make a ‘special’ appearance as the voice of the ever powerful, Genie, in the biggest show of the season, Aladdin, which opens at the North West’s premier venue on Friday 4th Dec.

Co Derry teenager, Ruairi, became an overnight sensation following a TV interview on wintry weather conditions.   His accent catapulted him to worldwide fame, with clips of his interview hitting 3.5million views in three days!  The hastag ‘Frosbit’ soon began trending and a media star was born. 
Earlier this year, Ruairi became the face of BT’s Superfast Broadband in Northern Ireland for an extensive ad campaign.   The Frosbit Boy also has his own YouTube channel which features hilarious impressions on well-known characters from Coronation Street, Mrs Brown’s Boys and Father Ted.  This is his first panto experience.

Ruairi joins William Caulfield who returns to celebrate his tenth year as the Forum’s favourite Dame in this all singing, all dancing festive show that’s sponsored once again by Dunnes Stores. 

This magical adventure story will be brought to life in a spectacular production complete with stunning sets, beautiful costumes and lots of comedy.

With an all local and Northern Irish cast including Mikey -Jay Heath as Aladdin, children’s favourite, Gerard McCabe as Wishee Washee and Keith Lynch as the evil, Abanazar, this sparkling festive treat is guaranteed fun for all the family.  Book your seats now for the carpet ride of a lifetime!

Aladdin performs at the Millennium Forum from Friday 4th December until Sunday 3rd January.  Tickets are now available from the Box Office.  Telephone 71 264455 or visit www.millenniumforum.co.uk for bookings. 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Give the gift of 'theatre' this Christmas!

Chirstmas is very nearly upon us once more. December 2015 is just around the corner and it's all systems go at present seeking that all important gift for our loved ones. The pressure mounts each year as everyone tries to outdo the previous year with gifts. 
The perfect gift is sitting waiting to be bought and can be enjoyed and appreciated by all. There's 'something for everyone' when it comes to the theatre! And here in the North West we are privilidged to have one of Ireland's finest theatres, The Millennium Forum Derry, right on our doorstop. With lots of upcoming events over the coming season and more, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Gifts for Her

With concerts from The Priests (21st Dec), Tommy Fleming (19th Feb) and Moya Brennan (18th March) to West End musicals, Footloose (31st May to 4th June) and Annie (23rd to 27th Feb) and comedy from Sarah Millican (8th June), the Forum has the perfect present for sisters, aunties, grannies, mums and best friends.

Gifts for Him

If the man in your life enjoys local music, drama or the best in stand-up comedy, then tickets to Homegrown (15th Jan), The High Kings (2nd Jan), Transatlantic Sessions (5th Feb), Jake O’Kane (23rd Jan), Ed Byrne (22ndMay), Paul Heaton/Jacqui  Abbott (13th April) and The Cripple of Inishmaan (3rd March) are guaranteed to delight this Christmas.

Gifts for all the Family

Treat the family to a magical experience at the theatre with our must-see festive show, Aladdin (4th Dec to 3rd Jan) or the smash hit West End musical, Annie (23rd to 27th Feb).  Making happy memories is the perfect way to spend Christmas for the young and the young at heart!

Tickets for all shows are now available from the Millennium Forum Box Office.  Telephone 71 264455 or visit Millennium Forum for bookings.

There really is 'something for everyone' this year at Derry's Millenium Forum

Saturday, 21 November 2015

FOOTLOOSE: The Musical comes to Derry

If like myself you were a teenager in the 1980's then FOOTLOOSE can only mean one thing:  great music and great soundtrack. When one is now in a nightclub (or more realistically at an '80's disco) and 'Footloose' comes on, it's all legs to the floor and some crazy dance moves are had. And if like me you're now in those dreaded 40's, those crazy moves are still done! Footloose is surely one of the greatest soundtracks of our era.
And now we are getting the opportunity to see the real live musical that is FOOTLOOSE right here in Derry next summer. FOOTLOOSE will be staged at Millennium Forum, Derry, from May 31st to June 4th 2016.  That's certainly a production I'm looking forward to seeing.
The cast consists of a great line up. Maureen Nolan will play Vi Moore and Luke Baker will be playing Ren McCormac (the role immortalised on screen by Kevin Bacon). The cast also features Hannah Price as Ariel Moore, Nigel Lister as Reverend Shaw Moore, Nicky Swift as Ethel McCormack, Joanna Sawyer as Rusty, Matthew Tomlinson as Chuck, Natasha Brownas Wendy-Jo, Miracle Chance as Urleen and Scott Haining as Bickie. The cast also includes Lauren Storer, Natalie Morton-Graham, Luke Thornton and Alex Marshall.
Based on the 1984 screen sensation starring Kevin Bacon, Footloose: The Musical tells the story of city boy Ren, who has to move to a rural backwater in America where dancing is banned. All hell breaks out as Ren breaks loose and soon has the whole town up on its feet. Featuring classic 80s hits includingHolding Out for a HeroAlmost ParadiseLet's Hear it for the Boy and the unforgettable title track,Footloose: The Musical is set to take the world by storm once again in this brand new production, bursting with youthful spirit, dazzling dance and electrifying music.

When the film was released in 1984, it became the highest-grossing February release in US film history.  The soundtrack album ended the year-long reign of Michael Jackson’s Thriller at number one and went on to top album charts all over the world, eventually selling in excess of 17 million copies. Footloose was nominated for a Golden Globe, and both the title song and Let’s Hear It for the Boyreceived Academy Award nominations. Footloose: The Musical first opened on Broadway in 1998 where it ran for 709 performances, with a London production following in 2006, opening at the Novello Theatre following a UK Tour.

Footloose: The Musical has music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and is adapted for the stage by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie. It is based on the original screenplay by Dean Pitchford. It is directed by Racky Plews (American Idiot, West End) with choreography by Matthew Cole, design by Sara Perks and musical supervision by Mark Crossland. It is produced by David Hutchinson and Phillip Rowntree for Sell A Door Theatre Company and Tristan Baker and Charlie Parsons for Runaway Entertainment. It is presented by arrangement with R&H Theatricals Europe.

Footloose the Musical performs at the Millennium Forum from Tues 31st May until Sat 4th June.  Tickets are now available from the Millennium Forum Box Office.  Telephone 028 71 264455 or visit Millennium Forum for bookings.

This is one week in 2016 that I'm certainly looking forward to being that teenager again and footloose and fancy free. All that remains is for me to get Kevin Bacon to dance alongside me!

GMcC

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Aladdin at Millinnium Forum Derry

Part of the annual Christmas tradition here in the North West of Ireland is the staging of the Milennium Forum pantomime. This year is certain not to disappoint with Aladdin, in association with Dunnes Stores, commencing on Friday December 4th.
"The Forum's fine tradition of staging pantomimes continues to provide the very best in festive entertainment." (Derry Journal)
When street urchin Aladdin frees a genie from a lamp, he finds his wishes granted. However, he soon finds the evil Jafar has other plans for the lamp - and for Princess Jasmine. But can Aladdin save the Princess and his love for her after she sees that he isn't quite what he appears to be?
This year 2015 in Derry sees William Caulfield, the panto Dame, celebrate his 10th year as the star of the Forum's panto. He never fails in delivering a fun-filled, lively entertaining show and I don't doubt this year will be no exception.
Young and old alike will desend on Derry's Millennium Forum and kickstart Christmas with a bang. Others will wait until after the big day and unwind with this fabulous show.
Tickets for the said show which will run from December 4th until January 3rd can be purchased online at Millennium Forum Box Office now.
An avid fan of panto from my youth I can certainly recommend this as an absolutely amazing family experience for all ages. This is one show you don't want to miss this Christmas.

GMcC

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Millennium Forum issue statement

The following statement has been issued from the Millennium Forum in Derry:

“It has come to our attention that an organisation, Theatres Online, is approaching local businesses with a view to selling advertising using the Millennium Forum’s name.  If your business is approached by a person claiming to be from this company we wish to clarify that the Millennium Forum has no connection with Theatres Online and they are not authorised to sell any form of advertising on our behalf.  We are disappointed at their approach to local businesses without prior consultation with us.”

David McLaughlin, Chief Executive Millennium Forum, Derry  

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Halloween in Derry 2015

For almost 20 years now I have been venturing into Derry City on Halloween night. All those years ago it was a family outing; the kids, Mum and Dad and usually Grandad. But as the years go on, the kids want to do their own thing (not kids anymore), and Grandad doesn't like the fireworks now in later life. However, Mum and Dad never miss! Yes, I still look forward to that couple of hours with himself on Halloween night.
I've never been a huge fan of dressing up or even Halloween in general, but the explosion that erupts in Derry on this night each year, is one I just have to be a part of.
Living in the border village of Muff has so many advantages as a whole, not least that one can just pop into this amazing city at times like this.
Derry was recently voted the best city in the world to spend Halloween in. This is long overdue. People come from far and wide to spend the occasion amongst the Derry folk. Last night surpassed all other Halloween nights.
Although there have been an amazing array of events in the city over the past week, last night was as always the culmination of the great Halloween spectacle. Crowds filled the Derry streets, ghosts and ghouls were everywhere. Witches flew in on their broomsticks, and monsters came alive. The streets of this amazing city were awash with colour and character. At approximately 7pm the 'Rise of the River Gods' Street carnival got underway. To say it was spectacular would be an understatment. Young and old alike lined the city streets to watch the amazing carnival as it travelled the city centre roads. It showcased all that a carnival should be and more.
It was then time to pop for a quick coffee to Café Soul and then to the banks of the Foyle for yet another fireworks extravaganza.
Fireworks can just be the same year in, year out. Once you've seen one great display, you've seen them all. But in Derry, that's not so! This was fireworks that even Sydney Harbour would be proud of. The show just went on.
Derry, you surpassed yourself once again. The title of 'Best City in the World to spend Halloween' is so very well deserved. This is a city which comes alive for Halloween. A city which is alive with culture at all times, and a city which I'm so very proud to be a part of.
(check out North West Culture Gal on fb for more photos from last night)

GMcC

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Josef Locke, A Grand Adventure

Last year I went along to the Derry Playhouse to see Felicity McCalls dramatisation of the legendary voice that was Josef Locke. McCall had penned this 'Grand Adventure' and it showcased Locke at odds with his younger self and alter-ego throughout the musical production. It was a huge success and a delight to watch on stage.
When I recently saw that the production was now being staged at the Millennium Forum for two nights only I was happily awaiting a return visit. What I witnessed last night exceeded all my expectations. Having brought mother along first time around I did likewise second time. A huge fan of Locke's music she was looking forward to a repeat performance. A repeat performance we did not get! Instead we got an extended vision into the life and work of the great man, Josef Locke. An extended insight into his ego, his faltering ways and his exquisite voice.
McCall had since devleoped this production and it showed in all the right ways. With the addition of a female presence, Orla Mullan certaily brought a new element to the stage. Alongside her amazing voice, she showcased a variety of female person's, primarily that of May Devitt.
Peter Davidson excelled in his portrayal of the 'reflective Josef' alongside other influential males surrounding Locke in his career. Brenn Doherty once again represented 'identity Josef' and Locke as a young boy.
Karl McGuckin again portrayed the voice of Josef Locke and faltered not once! His rendition of 'The Town I loved So Well' was possibly the first time I have witnessed the forum so still. One would certainly have heard a pin dropping. The concluding applause showed the appreciation of this great 'voice'.
Throughout this show we hear such Locke classics as 'Hear My Song', 'Kathleen' and 'Galway Bay' to name but a few. We get to see what life was like for Locke in Blackpool. We learn how he fled Britain as a tax exile. How he returned to his home and eventually returned to the UK.
McCall has successfully captured the life, the flambouyancy and the mischievous ways of Locke in this new theatrical production. Locke was loved by many and his 'voice' allowed for his forgiveness at all times.This piece by McCall is warm, witty, affectionate and exceedingly talented from start to finish.
Josef Locke, A Grand Adventure runs at Millennium Forum, Derry again tonight Saturday 24th October and then will be staged at Lyric Theatre, Belfast from Friday 13th November to Sunday 15th November. A viewing is highly recommended!

GMcC

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Coffee no no!

Just a few short weeks ago on October 1st, I started my day as normal. Around 7am I ventured out into the autumnal morning for a stroll before kickstarting my day. On this particual day I had a blog post to write for Mummy Pages, and then I had a three hour lecture to attend as my work in Student Support. Following my morning stroll on a normal basis I usually enjoy the ritual of a steaming mug of coffee. Prior to going into lectures I normally purchase a steaming mug of coffee to take along. It wasn't until that morning of October 1st that I realised just how important my mug of coffee is in my life.
On return from my stroll that morning I switched on the kettle and logged into facebook. It's really just a habit now I guess. Facebook was awash with posts about 'Sober October'. Everyone was giving up alcohol for the month. So I stopped and thought about it and decided to give it a go. As I set my mug in place for the coffee it dawned on me that giving up alcohol wouldn't be much of a challenge. I normally drink wine with a meal out or perhaps one night per week. I enjoy drinks on a Saturday night but can do without also. So then I had the brainwave as I put my spoonful of coffee into the mug....I'd go off Coffee for October. So the coffee was put back in the jar and replaced with a gree tea bag. No problem. I can do this.
So my day began. The blog post got written and the green tea was drank. Shortly after 12pm I arrived on university campus ready for work and as usual proceeded to the coffee shop where I purchased my normal mug of coffee. I sat down outside (the sun was shining and I still had 10 minutes) when I realised that I was 'off' coffee for the month. Despairingly I left the coffee cup down and made my way to the lecture theatre with a bottle of water.
Over the next 3 hours I could smell coffee from all angles. Students were sipping...the lecturer was sipping and other support workers were sipping...coffee.
As the days went by I could find myself getting the whiff of coffee everywhere I went. That aroma just floats through the air.
It's now been three weeks since I embarked upon  this task and I'm already counting the days until November 1st. I will look forward to a frothy mug of coffee on that morning and I shall count my blessings that I only decided to abstain for a month. Little did I know I would ever wish I'd made the decision to abstain from alcohol instead.
It's taught me how dependent I have become on this drug. It is a drug as I'm addicted. I'm finding each day difficult without it. But I shall return to it soon.
I'm very fortunate that I haven't experienced side effects - apart from my mood swings and short tempered periods!!!
I never thought that not drinking coffee would have such a profound effect on my life. Whilst shopping I walk past the coffee shops. I'm missing my time reading and sipping in various establishments on a weekly basis. I look forward to welcoming this return. I feel guitly that I'm a little angry when I meet someone drinking coffee and I can't have some. I'm seeing a side to myself I didn't know existed.
So if you're drinking coffee and meet me over the coming week or more, step aside and ignore me....it might be best in the long run!!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Brian Friel, Farewell!

As Brian Friel's funeral cortege left Greencastle earlier today, a group of villagers in Muff gathered at St. Mary's Hall to applaud Brian en route to his resting place at Glenties. People gathered for up to an hour prior to the arrival. During that hour North West Culture Gal met and chatted to local folk who all remember Brian and his family during their long years in Muff, with great fondness.
Ladies talked about their time in school with Brians daughters. Men talked about how they had never appreciated a literary figure before Brian Friel. One man told me that he was made read 'Philaelphia Here I Come' in school. He hated literature and on his reading of the said piece, he not only acquired a love of Brian Friel's work but literature in general. Such is the power of Brian's words and language.
One local lady remembers getting a lift to school in Derry with Brian. Another recalls her lift down Ardmore Brae with the playwright. A former employee of the Friel family said that she has so many fond memories of Brian and she'll treasure them forever.
I shed a few silent tears today in Muff as everyone talked and smiled at their individual memories of the great man who once lived among us.
An avid fan of Brian Friels writing, I will always treasure my meetings and conversations with the man. My bookshelves overflow at home with his work. Just recently I brought my mother and sister to a stage production of 'Dancing at Lughnasa'. I recall bringing my young son, many years ago, to a production of 'Making History' in The Guildhall, Derry. He said after the show, 'Mammy that was very long but I just learned so much about our history'.
Friel's work is embedded with language. His love and passion for language was endless. He used language to convey so many important messages and explored various themes within.
Unlike many of Ireland's great literary artists who left the homeland to write, Brian Friel remained very much rooted in his. He remained within his homeland and explored it continuously in his writing.
As Brian passed through Muff today on his final jourey home, he was applauded for being one of us, for being one of the greatest playwrights Ireland, and indeed the world, has ever known. And he was applauded for just being Brian.
So Mr Friel, as you travel along the country roads to your final resting place in Ballybeg, your very own 'little town' of Glenties, rest assured that we folk in Muff will always carry a little piece of you in our hearts. We will always remember you from Ardmore Brae and we will continue to love and appreciate the legacy you left us in your amazing works.
Here's hoping the big theatre in the sky appreciates that it is about to welcome Ireland's greatest playwright and a very lovely soul.
From the people here in the North West village of Muff, we thank you Brian for an amazing legacy and we thank you for being you. Rest in peace our dear friend.

GMcC

Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Strypes at The Nerve Centre, Derry

Earlier this year I saw The Strypes for the first time at McGrory's in Culdaff. I had heard of the band but wasn't familiar with their music. What I witnessed that night blew me away. I promised myself that the next time they were playing nearby I was going to catch up with them if possible and see just where they are headed in the music world.
Shortly after that night it was announced that they would be a support act for Foo Fighters at Slane this summer. These guys were going up in the music world!
So when I heard that they were going to be playing The Nerve Centre in Derry, I knew that I just had to catch up with them. Sure enough, they were very obliging to my request, and on Wednesday night last, I did just that. I met and chatted with the four Cavan lads that are The Strypes!
On meeting the lads in Café Nervosa at Derry's Nerve Centre, I immediately felt at ease. The guys are similar in age to my three sons so I'm well used to the banter and chirpy cheek of guys this age! These folk were no different!
I told them that I'd seen them in Culdaff a number of months ago and asked how it compared to Slane. Evan was quick to tell me, 'It was good, but not as good as Culdaff!' What a humble young man! Of course he was messing, but it was clear from all four that they did indeed enjoy the gig at McGrory's immensely. However the Slane gig met their expectations.  'Slane was incredible. It was a fantastic day. The set went well. Everything that could have gone right, went right', Josh said.
I then proceeded to tell them that I was intrigued with the age range that go to their gigs. In Culdaff I noticed the majority of the crowd were young but there was also the element of 40+ right up to 60+. And I saw similar on Wednesday night waiting on the gig in Derry. Just what is it about The Strypes that they attract such a vast range of ages? 'Our music is universal. If  you put bums on seats, it's regardless of age. Music is never age specific, it's whatever you're into', says Josh.
The lads are forever messing and when I said that I believe the've come a long way since their last gig in Derry, which was December 2014, they immediately respond with, 'But we're back here'. Of
course they're back here, it's Derry!
'With the experience of being on the road and gigging, we're progressing and maturing more with our music. This is our college years. With the gigs at present, we put on the party and people come. We're loving the experience.'
I asked the lads where their favourite place to play has been to date (they were supposed to say Derry/Donegal), and the overall response was united...Hull being the answer. 'We really enjoy there. Just a nice down trodden atmosphere. The gig just goes mental. It's like anywhere in Ireland. Cavan and Dublin just feel like coming home and it's always great.'
So being on the road so much, do they all get along? 'Yeah', I'm told, 'we've always done it. We've been friends since we were kids and suppose the only difference is now, being professional musicians, we live in each others pockets and have all that added pressure. But we get on great.' They clearly do. They're so in tune with each other and it's clear to see they enjoy and appreciate what each brings to the band.
How's the new album, 'Little Victories' going and what's different about it? In unison they say, 'songs'! I walked into that one! 'Seriously though, it's going great', Pete tells me. 'It's entirely new. Some tracks sound completely different than others. It's two years on from our first album and it's much more of a studio album. We've got new sounds and recorded it in London. That was an experience in itself. Being in that buzz was really inspiring.'
So Wednesday night was kick-starting the new tour of the UK and Ireland. The lads were clearly looking forward to getting on stage. 'After this we then head off on a European tour in October and then Japan in November. Japan is wierd. It's so efficient and the crowd go just mental.'
I decided to leave the lads at this and let them  get ready for the Derry gig.
The Blue Jeans and The Mighty Stef were supporting The Strypes on Wednesday night and were excellent support acts.
Just after 9.45pm The Strypes came on the Derry stage. The full house went completely 'mental', as the lads would say. I stood back for a time and just watched the audience. Young and old (or should I say mature) were in awe of the talent that was on stage. The chemistry between the guys was simply electric. Vocally, Ross excelled and Josh assisted. It was a very fast, enthusiastic and energetic set. New and not so new tracks were played. The crowd loved it all. One guy said to me that he felt they were imitating the Artic Monkeys. I disagree. These guys are finding a sound of their own. They're young, passionate, and engaging with their audience. They're definitely a more grown up sound from I heard them last. The set is very much packed with what The Irish Times said , was ' lip-smacking guitar licks, strong melodies and strident anthemic indie-rock chimes.'
Whether The Strypes are imitating their heroes as many argue, remains to be seen. After seeing them on Wednesday night I believe they really are coming into their own. Their fan base truly love what they do, so time will tell if they succeed. It's a tough business to break, but to date, The Strypes are striving to excel. Will they do so? We have to wait and see. But one thing is for sure, these guys love what they do and from what I saw, they are very much rooted in their love and passion for music, and the world really is their oyster. Now it's up to them to prove the critics wrong! I believe they will!

GMcC

For more photos of The Strypes at Nerve Centre, Derry, see North West Culture Gal FB page.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

My meeting with Eric Bell

Last Saturday evening I was eagerly awaiting my prearranged meeting with Eric Bell at The Nerve Centre, Derry. Eric was in town to give a masterclass that very evening. As I had just finished my coffee in Café Nervosa, I was invited up to wait on Eric as he finished his sound-check. For just over half an hour I sat at the back of the intimate studio watching and listening to the legendary Eric Bell. I hadn't planned on seeing him perform, so I sat there pinching myself that I really was in the vicinity of this legendary guitar player and actually listening and watching him play.
From the moment I walked into that room, this mans passion for his vocation was evident. I didn't expect to witness such passion from this now 68 year old musician. Mind you he may be 68 in years, but he's very much half that in his performance and his very presence.
When Eric finished his sound-check, he invited me to come along to the 'green room' for our chat. I was aware that his masterclass was starting in just one hours time and didn't want to keep him, but that wasn't a problem. Eric had all the time in the world and I felt like I was sitting catching up with an old friend.
I immediately asked Eric how he continues to have such passion for what he does after all these years. He told me, 'I love it. It's basically all I can do. I still get a buzz'. You can tell just how much he loves it in the way he talks about his playing.
So just who was the early influence on this East Belfast man, growing up? 'The Shadows, Lonnie Donegan, The Beatles, The Stones. The first person that really influenced me was Lonnie Donegan. He's one of the greatest singers I've ever heard in my life. He influenced everybody, Van Morrisson, John Lennon... When The Beatles came along, they brought with them so many chords that young guitar players didn't know about. The Shadows brought new melodies so you had to listen to their records to hear this new playing. The Beatles were incredible songwriters, and again brought along more chords. So you had to learn more and more chords. Then The Stones came along and started bending strings on the guitar. I thought, jees, how'd you do that? So I went to a club one night in Belfast and I asked the guitar player how he did this. He explained that I had to buy a banjo string and replace the first string on the guitar with this, and then moved this to the second string and the second to the third and so on. So I learned to bend the strings in a different way.' Eric is still in awe about his learning these new tricks with the guitar. As he says 'we're teasing with the strings!'
Eric told me then about how he moved to Scotland with a showband and played for a while there. On his return to Belfast he then played for another showband and moved to England. On his return to Belfast he then moved to Dublin where he heard Gary Moore play in a bar. It was there also that he heard a young Philip Lynott play.
Bell says that it's thanks to the Rolling Stones that aging guitarists/musicans can still go on stage and play. 'It's because of them that one can now go on stage at 70 and 75 and play without the audience shouting 'sod off grandad. They've made it acceptable for me and others to continue playing.'
At 16 I was living at home and working a nine to five job. By night I would have this voice in my head telling me to practice my guitar. So I'd go up to my bedroom and play'.
Eric describes the modern day as a 'sad era' in relation to music. He talks fondly of the talent in movies like 'Singing in the Rain'. 'That's talent', he says, 'it's not aroung these days'.
Of course I had to ask Eric how important 'Whiskey in the Jar' is to him in  the modern day. He laughs saying, 'its incredible as it's helped to pay my rent for the past 40 years. It's stood the test of time. For me, Philip and Brian, it was a love hate relationship with that song. This was recorded as a B side. Philip had the idea for the tempo and it took me forever. It was the hardest piece of music I've ever created, the intro to Whiskey in the Jar. I had no idea how to approach this song. It took me six weeks to put it together. I'd be humming ideas for this on buses, taxis etc. One day I was in a taxi, and it just hit me. I had to keep humming it, got out of the taxi, ran upstairs and still singing, I got my guitar and put it together. That was it.'
I asked Eric if he has achieved everything he set out to achieve. 'No, I want to be a better guitar player, a better singer. I just love creating music. It's a very iffy thing. As long as my health is ok, I'll keep going'.
Eric confided in me one of his most helpful hints. He explains that many musicians develop arthritis. He recalls one night seeing Rory Gallagher warming his hands up prior to going on stage. He now does that on a regualar basis and firmly believes that it has helped mantain his ability to play for so long. 'It makes perfect sense', says Eric.
I couldn't possibly leave this man without asking just how he and Phil Lynott came to meet. He happily tells me about the night he went to a club in Dublin. 'I knew the owner so he let me in for free. I was saving money. This band called Orphanage came out on stage. Philip was the singer. Brian Downey was the drummer. Brian just blew me away with his drumming. I got an opportunity to talk to Philip and Brian. I asked them where the best place would be for me to meet group musicians. The Zodiac they said...which is where Philips' statue now stands! Philip asked Brian if he'd like to take me on board. That night Thin Lizzy was formed.'
Eric Bell left home at just 16 and a half years of age. I for one, am grateful that he has now returned to his homeland and is set to continue playing for many years to come. 'I've no idea what people get from my music. I just hope they enjoy it.' Eric Bell is humble to the end.
Eric and his family now reside in Co. Down and it looks like he is finally putting down some roots. As he says 'it's in the sticks, but I love it'.
This is one meeting I won't forget in a hurry. Eric Bell you rocked :)

GMcC



Friday, 4 September 2015

North West Culture People - Colleen Raney

Today's North West Culture People person is Colleen Raney. Colleen visited Muff, Donegal earlier this year with fellow musician Hanz Araki. Fingers crossed they will return one day and we'll get a tune (or 10).
Name:  Colleen Raney

Occupation:  Singer, freelance Graphic Designer

Describe yourself?  9th of 10 children in a family from Seattle, Washington.That's probably the first thing I’d tell someone.  Which makes me think, actually.  Maybe I should start defining
myself differently. Or rather not at all. I am a skeptic and an optimist at the same time.  I love to cook, I love poetry (and lyrics), I love to walk, I love to sing with other voices, I love to read, I love my little starter garden. I am a professional auntie and godmother.  I’m terrible at small talk.  Like really awkward.  I think people assign me a lot more than I actually am.  Maybe we all do that to everyone.


What is your best childhood memory?  You know this one is hard because I don’t remember my childhood.  My sister Brigid remembers my childhood for me.  I remember joy when my brother’s (Irish) band was playing and we got to ditch school and go dance for them and hear him play.  But it could just as easily be sitting under the dining room table with a my worn copy of Little Women.  

What was your first job?  Childcare.  I nannied for a young man who now plays in the NBA!  And then I moved on to analytical chemistry in my dad’s laboratory.

What is your favourite film? I don’t know the answer to this, honestly.  The only movies we watched growing up would have been American Musicals so I love love love watching West Side Story, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, The Sound of Music, and musicals like that.  I am drawn to quietly told stories like Amelie, Coco, and Love, Actually, but spending so much time with Hanz Araki for the last several years has made me a fan of the 007 movies, and the Marvel Movies as well!

What is your top three favourite books? Oh wow. I can tell you what my three favorite plays are, but probably not books.  Polaroid Stories by Naomi Izuka, Shakespeare’s Othello, and The Weir by Conor McPherson.  I’m a huge fan of Janice P. Nimura’s book Daughters of the Samurai. 
What is your favourite method of relaxation?  Being near water - a river, lake, harbor.  Doesn’t matter what I’m doing there.  I relax so much more near water.  And reading.
What is your favourite possession? My guitar.

What is your favourite holiday destination? So far? Maui.  But I’m still holding out for somewhere on the Mediterranean.

What makes you happy? Travel.  And really good food.

What makes you sad?  Lies.

What annoys you?  Hypocrisy.  Even my own.

Who inspires you?   People who are willing to be wrong. People who take emotional risks.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? I’ve lived a pretty charmed life, so I think my risks are mostly internal. Quitting jobs that are stable and have nice benefits to pursue music, which is unpredictable at best in the current economy. Moving to New York and working as an actor in a city full of strangers.  Falling in love.  Learning to be very honest with myself.  My risks are luxuries to others. 

Who would you most like to invite to a dinner party? My grandparents and great-grandparents, actually.  They all passed away when I was quite young so I never really had any real chance to know them.  I’d like to sit with them for a while.

What are you most passionate about?  Stupidity.  :)

How would you like to be remembered?  I think I’d mostly like to be remembered by the people who actually know me, rather than some idea of me.  As a good friend, as a person willing to question her own thoughts and opinions, and as a person who loves deeply.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

NAME UPON NAME, Sheena Wilkinson - Book Review

NAME UPON NAME is the latest publication from Sheena Wilkinson, published by Little Island. The story focuses on a young girl (Helen) caught between the Easter Rising, the outbreak of World War I and a divided Ireland.
Belfast in 1916. Fourteen-year-old Helen is shaped by her mixed background - rural, Catholic Irish values from her mother; urban, Protestant Ulster values from her father. Helen's older cousins are her idols: Sandy, who joined the army straight from school and has already seen action in France, and Michael, who runs away from home to enlist. But before he leaves for France, Michael is deployed to Dublin to help quell the Rising, where he's expected to open fire on his fellow Irishmen, and Sandy writes home about terrible things on the front. What exactly are they fighting for?
Such is just a brief synopsis of the novel NAME UPON NAME. When I first opened this novel, I was hesitant as to what I was about to embark upon. I had hoped it wasn't going to be just another retelling of the Easter Rising 1916, only this time from a teenage girl's perspective. But no, on entering the first pages of NAME UPON NAME, I already knew this was teenage fiction, historical analysis, and a real glimpse into Ireland's past. I use the word 'past' loosely as our history is very much a part of our present. It is what has shaped us into who we are.
From the beginning we know that Helen is living in a divided country, caught between religion and politics which are intertwined and most importantly and notably, she is living in a divided family. One line is this novel stands out for me; Helen says to her cousin Nora, 'Surely all that - about patriots and Ireland - isn't as important as family?' This statement is at the core of the novel.
Wilkinson showcases the devastation of the War in Europe, the  Rising in Dublin, and the war among families in Northern Ireland, brilliantly. Helen is torn with everything she does. At just fourteen years of age, this young character is being shaped by those around her. And those around her are allowing her to be torn in so many pieces. She is unable to establish an identity.
As the story progresses we get to see Helen mature in a way no fourteen year old should have to. She takes it upon herself to resolve her familial differences to each other and makes them see just how important family is. She eventually hears Uncle Sean say, 'Your principles are important, but not as important as your family'. I can see the smile on Helen's face as she hears these words even though it's not written on the page.
Having grown up living in Donegal near the Derry border and now currently living just on the Derry border, I can relate to Helen's experiences. I had no personal division in my circle but I knew and know many who had and perhaps still do.
Just recently I realised that this novel is indeed very much autobiographical. Wilkinson grew up in very similar circumstances to Helen and it is only now that she feels confident enough to voice her true feelings about that upbringing and how it shaped her.
This book is set in 1916, ninety-nine years ago, although it has a very contemporary feel to it. Such is the storytelling masterpiece of Wilkinson. 
I spoke with Jennifer Johnston just over a year ago about the troubles in modern fiction and she told me, 'The troubles never go away. They will always be there in the backgroud'. How very true those words are. Although Wilkinson has placed the Rising 1916 at the heart of this novel, we know as a country that it will never go away. It's very much a part of who were are today. It has helped shaped much of our identity and certainly our cultural identity. We can never get away from it and nor should we wish to.
NAME UPON NAME gives us a real insight into this time in Irish history from the perspective of a teenage girl. It's one novel which our youth can now read and help them to understand just what this time was like. It's a novel which could very likely be on the Leaving Cert English curriculum in the future. It's one which my son plans on using this year as part of his Leaving Cert history project. It's one which is not only apt for the forthcoming centenary but one which keeps our history very much alive in the present day. And without history and language, how else would we be shaped as a nation. As Brian Friel wrote in Translations, 'It's not the literal past,the 'facts' of history, that shape us, but images of the past embodied in language'.
NAME UPON NAME is available to purchase now from Little Island publishers.

GMcC