Marie-Thérèse Davis

Visual Arts

Marie-Thérèse Davis was born in Belfast now residing in Bangor, Co.Down. She was educated at Queen’s University, Belfast (B.A.Hons; M.Ed); St Mary’s University College, Belfast (PGCE); Oxford Brooke’s (Dip. A&D). For ten years she was a member of Queen Street Studios, Belfast from 1992-2002, and has exhibited widely in the U.K, Ireland and Europe as well as participating in group shows in the USA.

“I grew up in Belfast during the Troubles. I lived on the Cavehill Road and traveled across the city to attend Queen’s University. Like many of my contemporaries, I experienced the daily trials of life at that time; the bomb scares, the tight security (especially getting searched going through the door of every shop in the city centre), the army road blocks, the explosions and devastation, the drive-by shootings and punishment beatings solemnly announced each night on the news. Fortunately, my own immediate family at that time remained physically unscathed but mentally, it affected every second of our days.

We took the stress and inconvenience for granted. Then I went to live in Oxford in 1987. I remember the embarrassment of opening my bag to be searched the first time I went shopping. My friends looked horrified, what was I doing? I experienced the freedom of being able to wander around not having to worry about bomb scares etc, and a feeling of life in a peaceful environment.

In the safety of this new world, I found myself reflecting on my home city and began to explore my own observations on life during the troubles. I felt so frustrated and helpless. My countrymen were killing and maiming each other whilst the majority of the populace in Britain was unconcerned about our tiny province and the nature of the civil war raging on our streets.

My Belfast Series (included in the Troubles Archive) was a reaction to and expression of this frustration. It focuses on The Women of Belfast (as first portrayed by sculptor F.E.McWilliam). Faceless individuals, caught up in the middle of this war, watching fathers, husbands, brothers and sons being seduced into the fighting. Left to pick up the pieces (sometimes literally) of their loved ones, to try to re-build shattered lives, emotionally drained and permanently scarred by the violence which penetrated the very souls of our countrymen and women. Paralyzed by fear and/or circumstances, unable to speak out against the atrocities, we carried on, living life as normal.

I found my voice through painting.”

Deirdre Gribbin

Contemporary Music

Deirdre Gribbin is an award-winning composer who was born in Belfast. She received an Arts Foundation Award for her full-length opera ‘Hey Persephone’ which was staged at the Aldeburgh Festival and in London at the Almeida Theatre. In 2001 her orchestral work ‘Unity of Being’ opened the ‘UK with NY Festival in New York City after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Her work was featured in the New York Times. In 2004 her groundbreaking UK tour of her violin concerto ‘Venus Blazing’ was lit by Bruce Springsteen’s lighting designer Jeff Ravitz and directed by theatre director Lou Stein. It toured major concert venues throughout the UK, including the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s South Bank, where it sold out. Soon after, the BBC commissioned her to write a major Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra, featuring Colin Currie, called ‘Goliath’. It featured lambeg drums from the Protestant marching band tradition and opened the Belfast International Festival. She was commissioned by the RTE for the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland in 2012 to write a Piano Concerto for Finghin Collins. ‘The Binding of the Years’. It was also performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Deirdre is a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast and Guildhall School of Music, London. She received her doctorate from the University of London. She subsequently was a Visiting Arts Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge and in 2013 was awarded a Sir Winston Churchill Fellowship for research on arts and disability programmes in the USA and Canada. She is a Fulbright Fellow and studied at Princeton University (USA).

Deirdre has always been interested in the juxtaposition of drama and concert music. Her second opera, ‘Crossing the Sea’, premiered at Wilton’s Music Hall in 2008. She has written extensively for radio, including music for BBC Drama productions of ‘Embers’ starring Patrick Stewart and ‘The Possessed’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Her piece for solo cello, ‘Reflected Glory’ was a recipient of the PRS Woman in Music award and premiered at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. She has written the score for the feature film ‘My Kingdom’ which starred Richard Harris and was nominated for a Screen International Award.

Most recently, Deirdre has extended her collaborative interests to the world of science and health. She was a Leverhulme funded Resident Artist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge in 2012 which resulted in her piece ‘Hearing Your Genes Evolve’ premiered by The Smith Quartet at the Cutty Sark performance space in Greenwich, London. She spoke about her work with music and genes on BBC’s ‘Woman’s Hour’ and was a keynote guest speaker at the EU Innovative Convention in Brussels at the request the of the President of the EU with Dr Sarah Teichmann. She is also featured in the Festival Ideas in Cambridge at The Sanger Institute in 2015 with The Vanbrugh quartet.

Deirdre is a Leverhulme Fellow based in Canada, where she is writing music for interactive video devices. She is composer-in residence at University College London Hospital working with the epigenetic team. She has been commissioned by Cois Ceim, and Crash Ensemble, to create a new work based on the life of the Irish architect and designer Eileen Gray for performances in 2016 internationally. She is also artistic director of ‘The Venus Blazing Music Theatre Trust’ working with vulnerable adults and children with learning disabilities. ‘Hearing Your Genes Evolve’ was featured in ‘The Dark Gene, a documentary about genetics premiered at Munich Documentary Film Festival in May 2015 and was shortlisted for the 2016 Berlinale documentary prize.

Her setting of Seamus Heaney’s poetry is available on the NMC label recording ‘Island People’ and on lyric fm label ‘Irish Composers Series’ featuring ‘Unity of Being, Venus Blazing and Empire States.

“A charismatic voice in new music”
Paul Conway. The Guardian

Paddy McCann

Visual Arts

​Paddy McCann was born in Cladai, County Armagh 1963, studied BA Fine Art at University of Ulster from 1985 – 1988 and received his MA in painting from the same University in 1989. He has participated in numerous curated and theme-based exhibitions and held one person exhibitions in Ireland and internationally.

A major exhibition of recent paintings ‘Black Quarter’, was held at the MAC Belfast Aug – October 2015.

He is an Associate Lecturer in painting at Ulster University.

The paintings deal with observations / experiences that have gone before, the elements that they contain – figures, shoes, tape cassettes, pillows, windows, bridges and notions of landscape/cityscape are receptacles of memory. I don’t wish the works to be easily defined but rather chase the poetic and to arrive there by letting the eye, the hand and the heart to work together to do what feels right.

Working mainly through drawing and painting, issues of the interior world (psychological, emotional, memory) and exterior world are central to my practice.

The paintings are layered where content, risk, imagination, time and craftsmanship are vital elements. This occurs within single works or set up within the framework of a long variable series or condensed within the triptych or diptych format. This correlates to central concerns / research into personal and communal loss and its impact beyond and into the expanded field of its geographic, historic, political and cultural landscape.

Recent work is directed towards interdisciplinary points of departure where paintings are combined with sculptural elements to allow for new materials, relationships and processes.

Some of the work is very specific in dealing with particular incidences that occurred as part of the conflict.

Nigel Rolfe

Performance Art

Born in the Isle of Wight in 1950, Nigel Rolfe lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. Nigel Rolfe’s work encompasses many media that include sound and audio production, video and photography. His primary reputation for the past forty years is working live, making performances throughout Europe, and the former Eastern Block, both North and South America’s and Asia in China, Japan and South Korea.

He has had over fifty one person and numerous group exhibitions from 1974 to the present. These have included one person exhibitions in 18 countries and in world art capitals repeatedly since 1978.

He has shown in Museums, National Art Centers, Public and Dealer Galleries and Alternative Spaces and others and been presented at many Art Fairs in the USA, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, UK and France

He is represented by Green On Red Gallery in Dublin, Galerie Polaris in Paris and Jayne Baum in New York.

He has exhibited in Biennales in Dublin in 1980, Paris in 1980, Kwangju in 1997, Sao Paulo in 1998, Bussan in 2008 and Venice in 2013.

There have been two major museum retrospectives of his work:

His retrospective Archive was shown at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1994

Nigel Rolfe Videos 1983 – 1996 was exhibited as an installed retrospective at The Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1996.

His work is in Public and Private Collections. He has been represented in numerous art fairs He has shown twice in the Pompidou Centre in Paris and his book work Towers is in the Collection of the Tate Gallery London and the Museum Of Modern Art in New York.

He is elected to Aosdana in Ireland. He has represented Ireland numerous times in cultural exchange exhibits and tours including China in National Museum Beijing and the USA in MOCA Los Angeles

and the ICA Philadelphia.In the 1980s and 90s he worked with the pan European group Black Market International including Documenta in Kassel

He has made live works and performances in all continents.

“This response may be observed in Nigel Rolfe’s performance art which in the late seventies incorporated aspects of ritual. By the mid 1980s the work had shifted into a more located representation of the relationship between England as colonial oppressor and Ireland as politically and culturally oppressed.”

Easter Lily
Easter Lily

“An image which expresses something of that spirit is The Easter Lily (above) by Englishborn artist Nigel Rolfe. The image of this flower, a symbol of the Rising with its connotations of death and resurrection, had been appropriated by Sinn Féin and sold in flag form every year to raise funds. Rolfe’s time exposure, sets out to reappropriate the image both historically and culturally. Photographed over six hours on Easter Friday 1994, the changing light sweeping over the white lily creates its own colour effects. For Rolfe the flower, no longer a pure white, symbolises a sense of spiritual loss; the concept of freedom, at the heart of the Easter Rising, having become tainted with the violence of the present troubles, a violence often evoked in the name of ‘1916’. And yet at the same time it is also perceived by him as an eloquent memorial to the men and women who had fought in the Rising. Perhaps this is the way forward for artists wanting to represent the Rising—creating images which not longer make the dogmatic statements of yesteryear but rather use their art as a vehicle for constantly revising the event in the manner which historians are constantly doing. The imagery of 1916 was not inconsiderable in the construction of a heroic canon. As Rolfe has proved it still has a role to play, albeit a more reflective and thoughtful one.”

extracts from many articles and writing on Nigel Rolfes many works relating to the “Troubles”

Colin Davidson

Visual Arts

Colin Davidson was born in Belfast in 1968 and educated at Methodist College, Belfast. He graduated with a first class honours degree in in design from the University of Ulster in 1991. In 2003 he was elected an Associate of the Royal Ulster Academy of the Arts (RUA) and in 2006 he was elected as an Academician within the same body. In 2012 he was elected President of the RUA.

His early work featured cityscapes, for example the city of Belfast being observed from high viewpoints, and a significant body of work based around urban scenes viewed through the reflections on glass windows. More recent work has focused on portraits, which make use of thick paint combined with a bold expressive style.

He has exhibited widely, with significant shows in Belfast, Dublin, London, New York, Washington and Paris. Awards have included US/Ireland Alliance Oscar Wilde Award (Los Angeles), BP Portrait Visitors’ Choice Award (National Portrait Gallery, London), Royal Ulster Academy Gold Medal (Belfast) and the Royal Hiberian Academy Keating/Mcloughlin Medal (Dublin).

In 2015, he produced a new body of work, Silent Testimony, reflecting on the stories of eighteen people who are connected by their individual experiences of loss through the Troubles.

“In June 2012 I was asked by Mark Carruthers, the then Chairman of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, if I would consider presenting five of my large-scale portrait paintings of artistic luminaries to a delegation due to visit the theatre the following week. I agreed, and six days later found myself waiting in the large, light-filled foyer at the Lyric with two previous sitters of mine – Michael Longley and Barry Douglas – both standing with their portraits. In the moments before the party arrived, I remember us commenting on the gravity of the meeting taking place in a room just feet away from where we stood.

A single television camera was allowed and, as we tracked this camera coming towards us from behind the lift shaft, the enormity of what I was witnessing hit me. Approaching was the delegation Mark had alluded to in his initial request - HM The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Michael D Higgins (the President of Ireland) and his wife Sabina Coyne, Peter Robinson (the First Minister of Northern Ireland) and Martin McGuinness (the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland). Mark introduced us, and I then walked with HM The Queen and the Deputy First Minister along the line of five paintings, discussing the complexities of painting a face larger than life.

I was born in 1968 and grew up in south-west Belfast. To witness the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces discuss my paintings with a once high-ranking member of the Provisional IRA was nothing short of staggering. Of course I knew they were not visiting the Lyric primarily to see my paintings but, as I chatted over the day’s events with my wife and daughters over a meal in an east Belfast restaurant that evening, I realised a bridge had been crossed. In the moment of that famous handshake, the seeds of a healing process of sorts were sown. An understanding and realisation of the conflict being consigned to history was cemented. To me, a 43-year old Belfast man, this unthinkable meeting had become a reality. And I had witnessed it.

Ever since the Belfast Agreement of Good Friday 1998, there had been a growing swell of voices calling for a communal moving-on. History was just that – history, and time was healing. Most of us ticked the ‘yes’ box in the referendum that followed the Agreement. In that simple stroke of the pen, there was a hope that we were putting the dark, murky, terrifying decades of what were known as the Troubles behind us. Most of us wished for the daily killings and bombings to stop, for the gruesome massacres to cease. We wished for life to be normal.

But time doesn’t always heal. For many thousands of people living in Northern Ireland, and indeed beyond, that tick on the ballot paper also marked an end of hope. A hope for justice, hope for answers. Their personal moving-on was now impossible. For many, the natural human process of dealing with loss was interrupted, often never to restart. And in the years that followed, with the rhetoric of blame, histrionics and procrastination, heard together with the calls for healing, forgiveness and love, this significant section of our community has fallen voiceless. After all, what can they say? How can they be heard? The noise of the ‘peace process’ has swept us all along.

In 2013, I penned a short personal manifesto entitled A Common Humanity. In it, I wrote that, since 2010, when I started my series of large-scale head paintings, I have been preoccupied less with the sitter’s celebrity or achievement, and more with their status as a human being. It was a kind of ‘common humanity’ which linked all the paintings and was part of the reason I chose to eliminate any visual reference or clue to each subject. In scale, intensity and intention the sitters were treated as equals. Of course the aesthetic and more formal issues of craft, modelling and likeness were important, but a tension was created where the motive of leaving room for the spirit or ‘common humanity’ clashed with the actual painting. The sitter’s identity or ‘label’ had become secondary to their realisation as a human being.

And it is on this foundation that this body of eighteen paintings rests. Paintings of eighteen fellow human beings all linked by their own unique experiences of loss. Loss through the conflict which ravaged this small part of the world for decades. Loss in our midst. Untold loss. Whilst identity or ‘label’ is buried in the paint, it is my hope that the stories are not. Not just the eighteen stories, but the many thousands. For, on an island where storytelling has been a bedrock for centuries, these stories form the legacy of all conflict.”

Colin Davidson, Silent Testimony Exhibition Catalogue

2015 US/Ireland Alliance Honor, Los Angeles
2012 University of Ulster Distinguished Graduate of the Year Award, Belfast
BP Portrait Visitors’ Choice Award, National Portrait Gallery, London
2011 Royal Ulster Academy, Gold Medal, Belfast
2010 Royal Hibernian Academy, The Ireland - US Council and Irish Arts Review Portraiture Award, Dublin
Royal Ulster Academy, Gold Medal, Belfast
2009 Royal Hibernian Academy, Keating/McLoughlin Medal (ESB), Dublin
2007 Royal Ulster Academy, Caldwell Prize for Drawing, Belfast
2004 Royal Ulster Academy, Gold Medal, Belfast
2002 Royal Ulster Academy, Silver Medal, Belfast
2001 Royal Ulster Academy, Conor Prize, Belfast
1997 Royal Ulster Academy, Silver Medal, Belfast
1994 Communication Arts Award, California
ICAD Craft Award, Dublin
Association of Illustrators, London
Winsor & Newton Gold Award, London
Creative Review Award, London

Solo Exhibitions
2015 ‘Silent Testimony’, Ulster Museum, Belfast
2014 ‘Jerusalem’, Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin
2013 ‘Between The Words’, Naughton Gallery, Queen’s University, Belfast
2012 ‘Transmission’, Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin
2011 Lyric Theatre Belfast (ongoing)
2009 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
2007 Window Shopping’, Solomon Gallery, Dublin
2006 ‘Inside/Out’, Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
2005 Solomon Gallery, Dublin
2004 Gallery Revel, New York
‘No Continuing City’, Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
2003 Solomon Gallery, Dublin
2002 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
2001 Gallery Revel, New York
Solomon Gallery, Dublin
2000 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
1999 Solomon Gallery, Dublin
1998 Straid Gallery, Co Antrim
1997 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
1993 BBC Belfast

Selected Group Exhibitions
(since 2005)
2014 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London
2013 Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition, Dublin
Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition, Belfast
BP Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, London
2012 Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition, Dublin
Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition, Belfast
BP Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, London
Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (invited), London
Radharc, The American Irish Historical Society, New York
Hibernation, Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin
2011 Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition, Dublin
Group show, Boyle Arts Festival, Boyle
BP Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, London
Black and White, Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin
Art London, with Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin
2010 Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition, Dublin
Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition, Belfast
Boyle Arts Festival, Boyle
Michael Quane Selects, Lavit Gallery, Cork
2009 Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition, Dublin
Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition, Belfast
Boyle Arts Festival, Boyle
2008 Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition, Dublin
Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition, Belfast
Boyle Arts Festival, Boyle
2006 Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition, Dublin
Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition, Belfast
Boyle Arts Festival, Boyle
2005 Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition, Belfast
Boyle Arts Festival, Boyle

Allied Irish Bank
Anglo Irish Bank
Arts Council of Northern Ireland
Bar Library, Belfast
BTW Shiells, Belfast
British Broadcasting Corporation
Boyle Civic Collection
Cobra Golf, USA
Department of the Environment NI
Department of Finance and Personnel NI
Electricity Supply Board, Ireland
First Trust Bank
Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin (Interpol)
Hastings Hotels
Hilton Hotels
The Law Society of Ireland
National Gallery of Ireland
National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland
Northern Ireland Electricity
Office of Public Works, Ireland
Parliament Buildings Stormont
Queen’s University, Belfast
Royal Victoria Hospital
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC
Standard Chartered Bank of Asia
Standard Life UK
Ulster Bank Group
Ulster Museum Belfast
Wexford County Council

Selected Portrait Sitters
(since 2010)
Dame Mary Peters
Lord Kerr
Lord Bannside
Sir Kenneth Branagh
Professor Sir Peter Gregson
Michael Longley CBE
Simon Callow CBE
Barry Douglas OBE
Mark Knopfler OBE
Mark Carruthers OBE
Marie Jones OBE
Seamus Heaney
Paul Muldoon
Roddy Doyle
Glen Hansard
Ciaran Hinds
James Nesbitt
Neil Hannon
Conleth Hill
Eamonn Mallie
Gary Lightbody
Bill Whelan
Sinead Morrissey
Glenn Patterson
Jennifer Johnston
Brian Friel
James Ellis
Brian Kennedy
Bronagh Gallagher
Basil Blackshaw
Gavin Friday
Lisa Hannigan
Paul Brady
Terri Hooley
Adrian Dunbar
Marketa Irglova
Eddie Irvine

Alex Pryce


Alex Pryce is currently reading for a DPhil in English at University of Oxford. Before that she completed the University of Leicester MA in Modern Literature in 2010 and a BA in English at Leicester in 2009. She is a poet and also director of PoetCasting – a nationwide poetry podcasting project.

For many years she has worked to increase engagement in the arts through social media, podcasting and website development. Her research looks at Northern Irish poets who emerged in the mid-1990s.

Raymond Watson

Visual Arts

Raymond Watson is an artist who creates public artwork, gallery based work and installation work - often these are site specific pieces. He works with a wide range of materials in order to visualise the themes he wishes to explore.

He has worked on a large variety of community projects, and exhibited widely in Ireland and across the globe. Exhibitions have taken place in New York, France, Spain, India, England, South of Ireland, Holland and the Basque Country. His international work has included site specific installation pieces in Ireland, Spain, India and the Basque Country and he has produced a substantial number of pieces of public art locally in Ireland. Most of these site specific projects which have been made in close contact with local communities and schools.

His practice is diverse and hybrid, including site-specific installations, site specific material, alongside personal materials and photography. He has worked with mud, bamboo and rice straw in India, Ice and steel in Belfast and oranges in Valencia.

“Much of my work revolves around topics of dislocation and displacement, migration, human/civil rights and is often simply the creation of beautiful things and the exploration of mysterious topics. “

Some recent and significant international and local arts activities are:

2015: Kids Gernika work was displayed at Hosishima commemoration and other important sites in Japan.

2014: Workshops at ArTifarti Festival, Western Sahara, Africa

2013: Kids Gernika International Art Project, for display at Derry City of Culture

“The Cell Was My Canvas” published. This will be released in 2015/16 in German.

Bridging Cultural Divides Programme. Expressionist Art sessions for team building and self expression. Newry & Mourne Enterprise Agency, Armagh Business Centre Ltd.

Banbridge District Enterprises and the Newry Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership - European Union’s PEACE 111 Southern Partnership.

Work 4 You Plus, Providing cross community art workshops to mature groups, and providing ‘Champion Leadership’ program to teenagers on the WIN Youth Development Program.

2012: “The Power of Arts & Culture to Promote Democracy & Global Peace “ paper presented at The ICD Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin.

Art and Social Justice Conference. Presented and conducted workshops at 3rd Art and Social Justice gathering, Gernika, Basque Region, Spain.

2011: Belfast Flags of Hope. Belfast. Created 10,000 individual artworks with community groups to present the largest art display ever seen in Belfast.

2010: Residency at Cacis, Contemporary Arts Centre, Catalonia, Spain.

2008: Conducted a residency at Santiniketan, The Tagore International University of Art, in West Bengal, India.

2008: Participated in 13Isolations, a prison based arts project and exhibition in Hoorn, Holland.

Exhibited in Fis 2008, part of the Liverpool European City of Culture celebrations.

Exhibited in the Independent Liverpool Biennial.

2007: Represented Northern Ireland at the 3nd.International Gathering of Artists for Peace, in Gernika, the Basque Country.

Conducted a four month residency in Calcutta, India; during which I produced a large temporary installation, The Helix of Hope.

Presented and discussed my work with lecturers and students at Santineketan, The International University of Peace, founded by Rabindranath Tagore, in West Bengal, India.

Artwork is included in the International Humanist Art Archive, Melbourne Australia

2005: Commissioned to produce an outdoor installation for the 1V Encuentro Internacional Artistas para la Paz (4th International meeting of Artist for Peace), in La Vall d’Uixo, Spain. A painted element of the installation is on permanent exhibition in the Municipal Library in Vall d’Uixo.

Exhibited with the RUA in the Ulster Museum Belfast.

Organised a Humanist Arts event and International Humanist Art Archive Exhibition in Conway Mill, Belfast.

Presented and discussed my work at the Foc Art Festival, Moncofa, Spain.

Arts Delegate at the Crossing Borders, Crossing Waters International arts project, Cork, Ireland.

2004: Presented and discussed my work at the Peace Pedagogy Conference, Gernika, the Basque Country.

2003: Represented Ireland at the 1st International Gathering of Artists for Peace in Gernika, 2003. At this same Gathering I travelled with an International group of artists to schools and community centres to conduct workshops with hundreds of local people.

Rainer Pagel

Performance Art

My art comments on belief systems, political developments, societal events, irrational ideas and absurd conventions of communication and human interaction. Performance allows me to use process to illustrate how the world in which we live changes while we’re not looking, and how we then misinterpret what we have not seen but assume we know intimately and hold true without any doubt.

The key themes of my performances are linked to my interest in gullible people’s assumptions, perceptions and beliefs as certain unassailable truths, without being aware that all truths are relative and constructs of our individual minds and the environment in which we grew up (physically, intellectually and emotionally). My performances also relate to disbelief, matters we don’t want to see, experience or believe, but have suffered or will have to endure in future.

My performances unashamedly tell stories without becoming theatre, or simply illustrations. I use my visual vocabulary to set the context for my “stories” and my references range from the cultural, historical, political and at times highly personal meanings of my actions to the obvious and banal. I do not repeat my performances, though elements of a particular performance may re-appear in a different context in a new work.

My work in the seventies, eighties and early nineties made reference to the dichotomy of living in an unstable society whilst attempting or pretending to live a “normal” life, the status quo of which was supposedly made possible, upheld and guaranteed by what was euphemistically encompassed by the title of “The Security Forces”.

My performance work since then developed from a procession of the personal becoming public, disbelief and mourning turning into the search for emotional stability, ending in a new sense of precarious balance. Along the way, I explored elements of stability – instability, support – abandon, strength – fragility, creation and destruction through measured and at times domestically ritualistic actions. There was no shortage of stimulus or provocation to incite (performance) work during the troubles and this continues after their end with incidents, though not always directly related to the unrest, which have now had time to surface; I am thinking of the disclosures of the horrendous numbers of institutional child abuse, for instance.

Outmoded ritual and ritualistic behaviour, stereotypical and, in the context of Northern Ireland, sectarian mind-maps of our social and political environment lead to bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia and an unquestioned return to and acceptance of biblical interpretations of our world. It is obviously easier now to portray a complaint about a refusal of service as an attack on Christian values than a human rights issue. In my view, all this explains why in times when the demographics of Northern Ireland undergo significant and dramatic change, the old and familiar sectarian orange and green entrenchments persist or even deepen and cause severe myopia in societal and political terms.

Art in general, or my art in particular, will not change this; all one can hope for is that art, which is politically motivated, or which, in a wider sense, comments on our society, will be seen by as many people as possible and effect however small a change in however small a part of the audience in attitude, perception or behaviour.


Performance Art

Bbeyond began its officially existence in 21st May 2001 with its Constitution, hosting its first project, Place in the Market, in St. George’s Market during the Friday markets on 12th and 19th Oct 2001.

Bbeyond has grown from a few people with determined interests to promote Performance Art, now we are a Membership organisation with a 30 strong members.

Some of our most significant projects have been Place in the Market, Open Relations I and II, In Place of Passing, the 6 Exchange projects with Quebec, Finland, Norway, Canada, Spain and Germany. Other significant projects were I AM, East/West via Belfast, AIMing because it involved 3 veterans of performance art from Poland, namely Jerzy Beres, Jan Swidzinski (both now deceased) and Zbigniew Warpechowski. Other projects include, Chaos, Black Market, Duo Days and Triple AAA.

To date Bbeyond has hosted a total of over 170 Activities, involving 88 Performance Monthly meetings, 18 Solo/themed projects, 18 invites to perform, 17 Lectures/Talks/Discussions, 16 Workshops, 6 direct Exchanges with Quebec, Finland, Norway, Canada, Spain and Germany, 7 Open Sessions and 4 Holding Times.

One of the most significant things to emerge in the process of development is the involvement of Performance Monthly meetings, these have become integral to Bbeyond and form a large part of what we do as an organisation and are now know for in the Performance Art world. The Performance Monthly meetings are unfunded and other performance artists and organisations are taking the idea and making them a reality, in British Colombia Canada, Quebec, Germany, Poland and Mexico.

Bbeyond has produced to date 2 publications on its activities, namely, In Place of Passing and pani No.3.

Bbeyond is committed to promoting the practice of performance art and artists in Northern Ireland and further afield. Our aim is to raise people’s consciousness of live/performance art as being integral to the world in and around us, inspiring reflection and enriching lived experience.

We host artists of international reputation throughout the performance art world and encourage newer artists to experience performance art practices for themselves. Bbeyond encourages greater access to and appreciation of this visually based art form, through facilitating modes of active private/public participation, allowing people from all sectors of society, not just the traditional arts, to experience and enjoy performance art directly.

Performance Art through its various practitioners were engaged directly or indirectly and poetically throughout the Troubles, Bbeyond only came into existence in the Post Troubles era but sees its work especially the Performance Monthly meetings as holistic, and empathetic contributions to the Post Troubles. The Troubles maybe over but the hurt they caused still is an ongoing wound that hasn’t properly healed.

Keike Twisselmann

Performance Art

Keike Twisselmann was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1967. She received a certificate in Visual Education from RTC Galway, Ireland, in 1989; a BA in Fine Art from the University of Ulster in 1992; an MA in Philosophy and English Literature, Leibniz University at Hanover, Germany and an MA in Fire Art from the University of Ulster in 1996. She was a director of Catalyst Arts (Belfast) in 1994 and was elected on to the chair committee of the bbk Berlin (professional artists association) in 2004.

She has been based in Berlin since 200, with a studio at Berlin Schoeneweide since 2006.

On Creation:

The most important point, the nub where creation happens, is the IDEA (gr. “eidos”). This should not be readily confused with a solely rational process, as the “idea” stands beyond the often so wrongly assumed division of a “rational”/” irrational” antagonism. The process of creation is a philosophical act; holy and unholy down to its very core.

On Performance:

Art has the privilege of a certain freedom towards political issues; so-called “non-political” art can be abused the easiest and is therefore sometimes much more dangerous to human comfort than so-called “political” art. All art is political. The only problem lies with our confusion of politics with power. We all perform our roles within our lives, the role of the performance artist is to investigate, reflect and react to them. Performance art is a “spontaneous ritual”.

On Outer Differences:

Versatility and diversity within the products of a continuous conceptual process of work are vital to artistic progress and quality of work; thus, two seemingly different results have the same origin, the same “eidos”.

Keike Twisselmann, Belfast 1996 and Berlin 2015

Exhibitions from A to Z:

Arnhem/ Holland - multimedia festival 1995

Barcelona - public performance, 1991

Belfast- a lot of public performances and exhibitions, 1989-2014

Berlin - more performances, installations and exhibitions, 1992-2014

Burgwedel/ Hannover - some single and group shows, 1997, 2003, 2007

Cardiff/ Wales - multimedia festivals 1995, 1996

Cleveland/ England -drawings, group show 1996

Cork- multimedia exhibition, municipal art gallery, 1996

Cologne - shrine of memories, 2015

Dessau/ Bauhaus - Ostranenie, 1995 wintergarden project, 1996

Drogheda - Flux, group exhibition 1997

Dublin - project arts centre 1994, art house Web 1997, Flux group show 1997,

Fix98 performance festival 1998, art space 1999

Gal way - art festival 1992

Glasgow-film festival 1996, “On the Busses”, performance 1997

Hannover - “Bewusstseinswelten”, ,,lch glaub ich bin im Wald”, single shows 2007

Kassel - Kulturbahnhof, performance 2002

Kiel - social ministry, single show 2004

Leipzig- Haus der Demokratie, single show 2004

L-Derry - performance festival Bel-Esse 2014

New York/ USA-group show, 2007 .

Quebec/ Canada - performance biennale 1996

San Lorenzo al Mare/ Italy - performance 2004

Sheffield/ England - multimedia festival 1996

Transylvania/ Romania -Etna Foundation, “Medium4, Ann Art8” 1998

Werkleitz/ Germany - “Cluster Images”, multimedia festival 1996

André Stitt

Performance Art

André Stitt was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1958. He studied at Ulster Polytechnic and Belfast College of Art & Design, Ulster University 1976-1980. From 1980-1999 he lived and worked in London increasingly travelling and making work internationally throughout the eighties and nineties. In 1999 he moved to Wales to take up position as Subject Leader of Time Based Art at Cardiff School of Art & Design, UWIC. He is currently Professor of Fine Art at Cardiff School of Art & Design, Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Working almost exclusively as a performance and interdisciplinary artist from 1976-2008. Stitt gained an international reputation for cutting edge, provocative and politically challenging work. A predominate theme in his artistic output is that of communities and their dissolution often relating to trauma, conflict and art as a redemptive proposition. His ‘live’ performance and installation works have been presented at major museums, galleries and sites specific throughout the world.

“Being brought up in Belfast and Seymour Hill housing estate at the height of the ‘Troubles’ making art was a matter of life and death for me. A relationship between my subjective reality, imagination and creativity to the profound frustration and anger bound by the status of domination, intolerable powerlessness, desperation and traumatic suffering connected to the politics of history, memory, place and culture forever influenced my idea of making art as a redemptive proposition.

With a working class background immersed in the ideals of equality allied to socialism subverted by the prism of violent political sectarianism; the main discipline of my art making changed when I attended art school in Belfast from 1976-1980. With a previous background in painting my practice changed radically as I became engaged in the current artistic debates of the time embracing performance art as a means for direct action and confrontation in an environment of civil conflict. I saw art as a practice that could offer limitless variation – my practice became interdisciplinary with emphasis on non-commodification, process & ‘live’ interaction. My work has since responded to my own history and memory and the issues surrounding sectarianism, manipulation and control. This has extended to an investigation of the body in relation to trauma.

Many of the principles of practice embodied in my life have evolved from that initial collision of possibilities. I often think about the war in Northern Ireland that made me what I am, and how out of necessity and survival, I was brought to an affirmative understanding of the transformative power, sense of freedom, wonder, and dignity that making art has afforded me.”

Sinéad O’Donnell

Performance Art

Sinéad O’Donnell has worked in performance, installation, site and time-based art for the past 20 years. Originally from Dublin and based in Belfast, Sinéad studied sculpture at the University of Ulster, textiles in Dublin and visual performance and time-based practices at Dartington College of Arts, graduating with distinction in 2003.

Her work explores identity, borders and barriers through encounters with territory and the territorial. She sets up actions or situations that demonstrate complexities, contradictions or commonality between medium and discipline, timing and spontaneity, intuition and methodology, artist and audience. She uses photography, video, text and collage to record her performances, which often reveals an ongoing interest in the co-existence of other women and systems of kinship and identity.

Sinéad’s practice is nomadic and travel has broadened her cultural perceptions and influenced her artistic sensibilities regarding time and space. She is active on the Belfast performance art scene working with local organisations to foster performance art activity and supporting emerging artists in her community.

Recent work has been presented at ‘Art of the Lived Experiment’, Bluecoat, Liverpool, UK, ‘Voices Travel’, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan (2014), ‘Asiatopia’, Bangkok Arts & Cultural Centre, Thailand (2013), Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia, (2013), Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland, (2012), Southbank Centre, London (2012).

“It / s / it / s / about / it / s / about / holding / holding it / holding onto / it / holding / it / together / for a while / through time / slowly / quickly / slightly / silently / in / actions / holding / onto to something / that / that can / it can / fall to pieces / but / it / it / never / seems / to / die”

Alastair Maclennan

Performance Art

Alastair Maclennan represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale, with inter-media work commemorating the names of all those who died as a result of the Political Troubles in Northern Ireland, from 1969 to that date (1997). During the 1970’s and 80’s he made some long, non-stop performances in Britain, America and Canada, of up to 144 hours duration. Subject matter dealt with political, social and cultural malfunction. Since 1975 he has been based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and was a founding member of Belfast’s Art and Research Exchange (1978).

Since 1975 he taught at Ulster Polytechnic, later, the University of Ulster, where for eleven years he ran the Master of Arts (MA) Fine Art program. Currently, he travels extensively in Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, North America and Canada, presenting Actuations (performance/installations).

Since 1989 he’s been a member of the performance art entity, Black Market International, which performs globally. He is presently an Emeritus Professor of Fine Art from the University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland, an Honorary Fellow of (ex) Dartington College of Arts, Devon, England and an Honorary Associate of the (ex) National Review of Live Art, Glasgow, Scotland.

“A primary function of art is to bridge our mental and physical worlds. Through crass materialism we’ve reduced art to cultural real estate. ‘Actual’ creativity can be neither bought nor sold, though it’s husks, shells and skins often are. It’s possible in art to use meta systems without over-reliance on physical residue and attendant marketplace hustling, jockeying and squabbling. Art is the demonstrated wish and will ‘towards’ resolving inner and outer conflict, be it spiritual, religious, political, personal, social, cultural…or any interfusion of these. As well as ecology of natural environment, there’s ecology of mind and spirit, each an integrated aspect of the other. Our challenge today is to ‘live’ this integration. Already we’re late. Time we ‘have’ is not so vital as time we ‘make’.

Issues remain:


The Outsider—Political/Social Institutions

Religious/Political Bigotry—Inclusive Tolerance

‘Dereliction’—Public/Private Responsibility

Oppositional or Consensus Means of Political/Social Improvement


New Life and Mutation


James King

Performance Art

James King grew up in Larne, Co. Antrim and has lived in Derry for the last 25 years. Since retiring from his post as Course Director for Community Drama at the University of Ulster in 2004 James has developed his career as performance artist and sound poet, while maintaining his interest in Dramatherapy with vulnerable groups in the community.

“I first began performing street theatre in Belfast, 1976 in relation to social issues: eg. children’s rights, poverty, unemployment; and this remained the central focus of our actions during “the troubles”. I also engaged in avant-garde street events and happenings, often of a surreal nature, with David Irving. From 1988-92 my creative output centered on Street Art activities in Derry in collaboration with Eamonn O’Donnell. Some of these were troubles related although much of the work related to community and social issues and expressive, abstract themes. We described them as “Exercises in Spontaneity.” We wanted to encourage freedom in others and develop it in ourselves: Freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and freedom of action. We were engaged in this work throughout the period of the troubles although it was not specifically about sectarianism or political and security issues. Through our endeavours we would challenge authority and oppression and their physical manifestations; eg. transforming barbed wire into a piece of public sculpture. To that extent our art was troubles related.”


“Moving Pitches” by James King (Yes! Publications 2008)

Pauline Cummins

Performance Art

Pauline Cummins performance and video work examines identity, gender and socio-cultural relations connected to different communities in society.

Her works ‘Sound the Alarm’ 1(2008), 2 (2009), 3(2010) and ‘Extracts’ Paris 2012, explore themes of power, powerlessness and the rights of the child to protection. Most recently in Between One and Another, (2012) with Canadian artist Sandra Vida, at the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris, and in the exhibition, It has no name curated by Liz Burns in 2013 in DIT, Dublin.

She performed as Emily the Duchess of Leinster and as her son, Lord Edward Fitzgerald in These Immovable Walls in Dublin Castle in 2014. Her first performance was in 1988 commissioned by Projects UK , Unearthed, dealt with the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Cummins video installations have been exhibited nationally and internationally over the last 30 years. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. She was a lecturer in the Fine Art Department of the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, 1994 -2014

​“My first major performance was, Unearthed 1988 in Newcastle on Tyne and was commissioned by Projects UK. It consisted of slide projections pre-recorded sound and live sound by the artists. Unearthed was selected for ‘Art Beyond Barriers’, Frauen Museum, Bonn. Unearthed then became a video installation with photographic images and sculptural stands It was shown in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, in ‘Inheritance And Transformation’,1991. Unearthed was also shown in, The Fifth Province- Some Contemporary Art from Ireland, in the Edmonton Art Gallery, with a live performance, 1991 Unearthed was shown in the museum of contemporary art in Roskilde, Denmark. One person show 2 Installations: Inis Oirr/Aran Dance and Unearthed, Ladengalerie, Munich, Germany, 1991

Original drawings for Unearthed, were selected for the irish Exhibition of Living Art 1982.

Another work ‘Inch X Inch’ a text based work with sound performance to camera. Performed in Inch, Co. Donegal and Inch, Co. Cork.”


History of Performance Art In Ireland, Edited by Aine Phillips, Live Art Development Agency and Intellect Books (2015).

Art and Architecture in Ireland, Yale University Press and Royal Irish Academy (2014); 5 Vols. Vol. 5: Twentieth Century Art and Artists, edited by Peter Murray, Crawford Gallery Cork and Catherine Marshall, Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Art in Ireland since 1910, by Fionna Barber, Reaktion Books (2013).

The Performance Collective, Circa Art Magazine, Spring 2009 (2009).

And the One Doesn’t Stir without the Other, edited by Ursula Burke and Ruth Jones, with Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland (2006).

Dialogues: Women Artists from Ireland edited by Katy Deepwell, I.B. Taurus, New York and London.
Kay Burns, Locus Suspectus..where the hidden comes to light., Artichoke, vol.17 no.1 (Spring) 2005, p.32-35. Canada (2005).

Moira Roth, ‘Of Writing, Performance, and Photography: The Cyber Theater of Mneme and Muse‘ Camerawork vol.30, no.1( Spring/Summer) p.28-31. USA (2003)

Unearthed, performance script, n.paradoxa, vol. 5, p.71-73 (2000).

Brian Connolly

Performance Art

Brian Connolly employs a wide range of artistic strategies and processes including Performance Art, Public Sculpture, Installation Art, Collaborative Art Practice and Artist Run Project Development.

He has created a series of Market Stall Performance interventions internationally since the mid 1990’s, where surreal humor is employed to question aspects of consumerism and global political and social ethics.

He has also developed a new genre of Performance work generically entitled “Install-actions”, which are often visually elaborate and contain both political and spiritual metaphors. He is a founding member of Bbeyond and has had several directorial responsibilities within the organization since it’s inception in 2001.

He creates solo and group performances & has exhibited/performed in diverse contexts within Europe, North America and Asia. He has also initiated and curated a number of projects nationally and internationally and has been involved with artist run organizations throughout Ireland.

Since the late 1980’s he has created 12 public art commissions in a wide variety of media.

He is an Associate Lecturer in Sculpture, Fine Art at The Belfast School of Art in the University of Ulster and is a member of the Research Institute of Art & Design within the Belfast School of Art.

“A range of my art practice during the 1980’s & 90’s was ‘site-specific’ and temporary and evolved out of dialogues with specific places or contexts and reflected my socio-political concerns. An aspect of this past work emerged as a direct response to the ‘Northern Irish Troubles’. Artworks, which in my opinion responded to my experience or response to the ‘Troubles’ included a series of by-focal viewing devices with split fields of view, Anamorphic perspective installations which both created and exposed illusions within one work, video installations such as ‘Over View’ in the Project Arts Centre in Dublin in 1993, employed a series of security cameras to spy on a sequence of rotating dioramas of Belfast etc.

These past works reflected on my experience and emotional frustrations of having grown up in a divided society, (or community?), which had resorted to violence as a substitute for a normal means of communication.

My works were an attempt to offer other perspectives, often literally an attempt at changing the view(s) of the audience, in the hope of illustrating the similarities of the perceived differences that were blinding much of the community. (and still do to some extent today.) I had aligned the act of ‘seeing’, or looking with both eyes, as a direct political metaphor. At the base of my practice I wanted to articulate a belief in our commonality and shared humanity as opposed to the prevailing mantra of exploitative rhetoric and emotionally driven political escalations.

Through ongoing political and historical research and my growing interest in ‘performance art’ as a medium and ‘live’ response to the contemporary reality, I started to devise and structure time-based artworks that considered or articulated the longer view of Irish/Northern Irish history. I wanted to find an appropriate art strategy to portray a dualistic political history and how the history of this Province could potentially be articulated within an evolving ‘art’ structure in a given space.

I was saddened at how we, the inhabitants of Northern Ireland, had become captives of our troubled past and how past historic acts generated a chain of reactions and counter actions, which incrementally led to the contemporary troubled reality with which we negotiated or within which we lived. I was thinking how each historic development might be evidenced within an artwork, as adding to, or building on the last, building tension and a kind of intractable complexity.

Out of this thinking I developed the ‘install-action’ strategy, (as mentioned above). I decided to create a durational artwork, which would symbolically travel through Irish/Northern Irish history over a long period of time, with each ‘action’ building on the last. I developed an artwork, which I hoped would articulate the role of historic events in the evolution of the ‘Troubles’ and our contemporary political landscape.

In these works, which I later titled “History Lesson”, I used ultraviolet lighting and worked in the darkness. Over time I slowly and meticulously spun an elaborate matrix of white threads between internal walls, or if outside, between external structures and trees. The ultraviolet lighting illuminated the white threads and other white objects (or materials) within the space and made them fluorescent within the darkness.

The threads were spun across the specific spaces, woven between two small potted trees at either end of a particular space. The trees symbolised the two communities or political perspectives within Irish History. I carried the end of each white thread one by one, across the space and in the centre they were delicately ‘sewn’ through an illuminated Atlas. As a result and over time, this book was slowly lifted off a table and held aloft by the growing number of threads.

At either end of each of these threads I slung an illuminated glass jar containing an image/images/text. Each jar was suspended in one of the small trees. The printed images referred to key aspects of Irish history. Each image was backlit by a candle within the jar and they acted as mini lanterns. Each Image corresponded to a specific aspect of contemporary Irish history, and opposing elements of history were at either end of each of the threads. Each illuminated image was only visible for a set period of time and like history, as each candle burned down, they flickered and went out of living memory.

The differing sources of light - ultraviolet light, candlelight and low-voltage lamps was also important within the work. Members of the public/audience often became immersed within the space among the matrix of threads and were drawn to the illuminated details within the dark space. They could move around the space, view details within the illuminated jars, illustrating specific fragments of history highlighted at the time of their visit.

As time passed within the durational artwork, the historic imagery became more familiar to our own troubled time, with recurrent symbols and the trappings of our familiar social strife.

So in this way the artwork evolved and our shared history was slowly unspooled. One image of a specific political act was counterbalanced at the other end of the same thread by another counterpoint image of a political act. As the artwork evolved the whole network of threads became interrelated and interdependent. Adjust one thread and the others shifted to compensate.

Dressed in black, I was almost invisible in the dark space, and often moved unseen. I would go about my work in a slow and deliberate manner, emerging from the darkness slowly unspooling a length of thread through the space, silently working and creating the illuminated matrix of history.

In the later part of install-action/performance artworks I added stones and other objects onto the threads. Through the addition of weight, the whole network of threads shifted as they were all interconnected through the Atlas. As the weight and tension within the matrix grew they became visually dramatic and emotionally tense.

The increasing tension was a core element within the artwork as this signified my experience of growing up and living through the Troubles in Northern Ireland.”

(* The term ‘Installaction’ or ‘Install-action’ is a description or title for a new area of Performance Art developed and named by Brian Connolly in the mid 1990’s.)

John Carson

Performance Art

John Carson is an artist whose work has explored various media, contexts and strategies. He has presented live performances, made soundworks and CDs, broadcast work on television and radio, created installations, and both as a curator and artist, been involved in many types of ‘public art’ project.

He has exhibited drawings, photographs, prints and sculpture in such venues as The Ulster Museum in Belfast, The Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin, The ICA in London, CCA in Glasgow, IKON Gallery in Birmingham, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art in Australia, The Aine Art Museum in Tornio Finland, PS1 in New York, New Langton Arts in San Francisco and The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh.

He received his Bachelor of Fine Art Degree from The University of Ulster in Belfast in 1976 and his Master of Fine Arts Degree from California Institute of the Arts in 1983. From 1986 to 1991 he was Production Director of Artangel, a London-based organization which presented temporary art works in public locations. He has been a visiting lecturer at various schools and colleges in Ireland, UK, Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. He taught at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland and at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, England where he was Course Director of the BFA program from 1999 to 2006. Since August 2006 he has been Head of the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University.

“Work I made from the late seventies to the late eighties referenced The Troubles in Northern Ireland directly and indirectly. Several works were exploring my Northern Irish background and identity.”

1976-77 – Friend Map, depicted a social network of friends and relatives around the greater Belfast area, mapping lines of friendship which crossed religious, political and geographic divisions.

1976-77- Circuit, was a photographically documented circumnavigation of the Belfast Lough area, showing signs of civil strife on the journey through Belfast.

1978 – I’d Walk From Cork To Larne To See The Forty Shades Of Green, was a 320 mile photographic walk based on a song by Johnny Cash. The resulting poster featured photographs of green things taken on the journey. The border was not defined but photographs taken in the North signaled signs of the troubles through graffiti and the presence of the British Army in the streets of Belfast, in the form of a squaddies boots.

1980 – Men Of Ireland / The Men In Me

1985-87 – Off Pat, a performance interplaying stories songs and slides. Some of the content was dealing with experiences of The Troubles in Northern Ireland during the sixties and seventies.

2009-2011 – Timelines, is a video installation and film tracing the lives of people in Northern Ireland who were in the Friend Map in 1976/77. Participants reflect on their lives from 1976 to 2006, including the effects of The Troubles.

“All of these works to some extent deal with a sense of Northern Irish identity, and inevitably reference the years of my life which were lived through The Troubles.”

Dave Duggan


Dave Duggan was born in London in 1955. His parents returned to Waterford, their home city, in 1963 and found work as factory and laundry workers. Dave was raised and went to school there. He studied physics at University College Dublin and, immediately on graduating, went to the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo, as a volunteer teacher for two years. Following that he went to The Gambia for two years as director of a volunteer programme. On his return to Ireland, he completed a post-graduate qualification for primary school teachers at St. Patrick’s Teacher Training College. Other jobs he held in that period included barman, van driver and fork-lift truck driver. Through those years Dave wrote poetry and short fiction.

In 1981 he married Diane Traynor, a volunteer librarian he met in The Gambia and they settled in Derry, where she had work. In the following years Dave worked as a primary school teacher, a youth worker, a conflict resolution facilitator and a bookseller. His writing output increased in range and volume and began to include radio dramas and short talks for the BBC. In 1994 he committed to writing full-time.

In 1996 he co-founded Sole Purpose Productions and wrote, produced and directed 7 plays and four sketches on matters current in the Peace Process. These toured to theatre and non-theatre venues, across Northern Ireland, to working class urban and rural audiences, many of whom had not seen professional theatre before.

As well as this work, Dave wrote novels and short fiction and other plays among them Bubbles in the Hot Tub, (comedy, Blue Eagle Productions, 2007) and MAKARONIK (science fiction, Aisling Ghéar, 2014). He wrote the screenplay for the Oscar nominated short film Dance Lexie Dance (Raw Nerve Productions, 1996), as well as two novels and numerous radio plays for BBC Radio 4 and RTÉ. His most recent stage-play, DENIZEN (CEL, 2015), a verse drama in which a dissident republican puts down the gun, is in the strand of work found in Plays in a Peace Process.

Dave’s work has been seen across Ireland and in New York, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Afghanistan. His play Gruagairí (Aisling Ghéar, 2008) won a Stewart Parker Trust Award.

Dave Duggan received a Major Arts Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2010.

Living and raising a young family in Derry, Dave sought to make poeticised theatre work that elaborated new language, acts and gestures in a context of conflict, social justice and violence. The plays are consciously artistic and directly accessible in form and staging. He sees them as responses impelled from him by contingencies, events, occurrences and emotions in the world around him. Images, characters and snatches of dialogue come and drive his search for form, through imagination, language and story.


Plays in a Peace Process. Derry: Guildhall Press, 2008
Denizen. Derry: Guildhall Press, 2014

Other resources:

The Linenhall Library, Belfast, holds the archive of the work of Sole Purpose Productions, including Dave Duggan’s notebooks, play drafts and other material from his time with that company.

Dave Duggan blogs at and more details of his work may be found at

Ursula Burke

Visual Arts

Ursula Burke is an Irish artist who works in a variety of media including Sculpture, Photography and Porcelain. Much of her Fine Art practice deals with issues of Representation and Identity within contemporary Ireland.

She was awarded the Arts Council of Northern Ireland British School at Rome Fellowship in 2014. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including SCOPE New York Art Fair 2015,2014, 2013 & 2012; Ex Elettrofonica Gallery Rome 2015; Transition Gallery-London 2015; Art of the Troubles, The Ulster Museum Belfast, 2014; Arafudo Art Annual, Fukushima, Japan 2014; March & June Mostra, British School at Rome, 2014; Spazi Aperti, Romanian Academy, Rome, 2014; Hope for a Better Past, The MAC, Belfast, 2013 & Instances of Agreement, Kao Yuan Art Centre, Taiwan, 2011.

Her work is part of the collection of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Office of Public Works, Ireland and in private collections nationally and internationally. She is an artist member of Outland Arts, currently works with Ex Elettrofonica Gallery Rome and is represented by the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast.

Representation and Identity within post-conflict Northern Ireland is the main imperative of my work. Using a range of formal techniques drawn from the canon of fine art classicism, I work in dialogue between idealised versions of society expressed through the classical period and potential constructions of the ideal within contemporary, post-conflict, Northern Ireland.

A large proportion of my work at present is made using Parian porcelain, a hard paste porcelain that is famed for emulating Parian marble, the substance used for carving many of the Greek and Roman sculptures from antiquity. Even though Parian is extremely hard after firing, the nature of the material exudes a kind of softness and elasticity, (almost fleshy) which at the same time formally emulates the characteristics of marble. In content, the reference to the classical period that the work allows enables me to make a conceptual bridge between idealised versions of society much in debate during the classical period and the necessity for continually suspended versions of the ideal within a post-conflict society. Northern Ireland as a region is consistently working towards peace; persistently speaking and striving to move towards an indeterminate point in the future where real, meaningful and lasting peace between tribal communities has been realized. The schism between idealized forms of civil society and consistently suspended versions of the ideal in post conflict society is at the heart of this work.

Olivia Nash

Theatre, Film and Television

Olivia Nash is a Northern Irish actress from Larne, to the Northern of Belfast. She is best known for her comedic roles. She appeared with James Young at the Group Theatre, appearing in Up The Long Ladder (1967) and The Cat And The Fiddle (1970). More recently she has been most associated with her prominent role as ‘Ma’ in the BBC comedy “Give My Head Peace”.

She has appeared in a number of films set during the Troubles, including Children of the North (1991) and An Everlasting Piece (2000).

She was awarded an MBE in 2006.

Colin McGookin

Visual Arts

Colin McGookin was born in Belfast in 1958, and graduated in fine art from the Belfast College of Art in 1981. Within a few years of leaving college, he was a founder member of Queen Street Studios in 1984. He was elected to the Royal Ulster Academy in 1989, and in the same year won the Conor Prize. He has also been a winner of the Allied Irish Bank Better Ireland Award and the Claremorris Open. He has exhibited extensively across Ireland, the UK, USA and the Far East.

“All of my work continues to be heavily influenced by events in my world. From local to international events I incorporate images that interest and perplex me in an effort to better understand negative or celebrate positive outcomes. During the Irish troubles I witnessed several serious events personally and the trauma and reverberations of them went straight into my artwork with aftershocks continuing to seep into my imagery today. My choice of remaining in NI throughout my career has left a distinctive mood in my artwork. Containing hope but heavily tempered with blue shades my imagery contains images and symbols of the objects and things that have played a role in events influencing my life.”

Professor Liam Kelly of the University of Ulster and once Director of the Orchard Gallery Derry said in his book ‘Thinking Long’

“There is a relentless quest for the interrelations of man and woman in nature in Colin McGookin’s highly referential paintings. There is a thinking long, a longing to return to the ‘indivisible ground of creation’. ”

Dr Anthony Buckley of the Ulster Folk Museum said in his catalogue essay to McGookins 1991 exhibition ‘From Tradition into the Light’

“McGookin’s mythologies point most obviously to the life cycle, to the cyclical physiological processes of birth, sexuality and death, and once again to birth. These he uses in turn to evoke the cognitive, emotional and social awakening of the child as he grows into a man. These mythologies of universal processes also take on a Northern Irish flavor. Thus the awakening and enlightenment are portrayed as growing from the parochial mythologies of a traditional loyalist past. What is left unclear and deliberately unresolved in these paintings is the question of whether, once this growth has occurred, a person must once more return to his parochial and local roots. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

The artist’s apprehension here is one he shares with his liberal contemporaries in Northern Ireland. There are many Northern Irish people – especially those in the middle-classes – who would grow out of the ‘sectarianism’ of their ethnic roots. Yet many of these simultaneously have loyalties – not least family ties – which bind them to their ethnic past. McGookin’s pictures therefore stand as a metaphor for those people who would like to live in the bright cosmopolitan light of a future world but who find they cannot entirely relinquish their loyalty to family, to ethnicity and to the past.

McGookin’s vision, then, is one not quite of tragedy nor yet of hope. His pictures bridge the past and the future, the old and the new, the parochial and the universal, the familiar and the exotic, the forces of destruction and those of creation. They suggest this through a mythology at once both sexual and religious which evokes both a hopeful, creative sense of progress, and a tragic zoetropical eternal return. In this cycle of life, one may aspire to an ecstatic union with the exotic and the universal, but there is a real possibility that one will return to the particularity of one’s origins, a clay which, for an Ulsterman, has a singularly tragic taint.”

Ian Beattie

Theatre, Film and Television

Ian Beattie is a Belfast born character actor. He is a graduate of Queen’s University and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.

He has worked on many significant stage, television and film productions since the mid-1990s. He is best known for his role as Meryn Trant, Knight of the Kingsguard, in HBO’s “Game of Thrones”. His career has featured appearances in large scale Hollywood blockbusters, such as his role as Antigonus in Oliver Stone’s “Alexander”, to smaller scale intimate theatre pieces.

Ove the past twenty years, he has appeared in a number of important productions, which feature the “Troubles” as their backdrop. These include Gary Mitchell’s ‘Marching On’ , in which he played a visiting Scot coming to Northern Ireland for the twelfth of July parades, as well as a powerful performance as Michael Stone in the biopic of Northern Ireland Secretary of State Mo Mowlam.

In 2015, he took a lead role as minister McCoubrey in BBC Northern Ireland’s political comedy “Number 2s”

Demented (2014), Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Fishers of Men (2011) Culturlann McAdam O Fiaich, Belfast
Rock Doves (2010), Waterfront Studio, Belfast
Caught Red Handed (2002) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Marching On (2000), Lyric Theatre, Belfast
Melting Doves (1997), Building Theatre, Ballina
Stags and Hens (1995), Arts Theatre, Belfast
Chambers (1995), Building Theatre, Ballina
Pinocchio (1994) Arts Theatre, Belfast
The Taming of the Shrew (1993) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Film and Television
2011-2015 Game of Thrones (TV Series)
2015 Number 2s (TV Series)
2014 Scúp (TV Series)
2014 Blandings (TV Series)
2014 37 Days (TV Mini-Series)
2014 Line of Duty (TV Series)
2013 A Belfast Story
2013 Starred Up
2012 Keith Lemon: The Film
2011 Brendan Smyth: Betrayal of Trust (TV Movie)
2010 Mo (TV Movie)
2009 The Tudors (TV Series)
2007 Closing the Ring
2006 Killinaskully (TV Series)
2004 Alexander
1999 Stray Bullet
1996 Space Truckers
1995 Kidnapped (TV Movie)
1995 The Hanging Gale (TV Series)

Peter Richards

Visual Arts

Born in Cardiff in 1970, Peter Richards was educated at the University of Wales, Cardiff, (BA fine art) before completing his M.Phil. ‘Representations of Representations’, at the University of Ulster, Belfast in 1998. His first solo exhibition, Corrective Perspective, curated by Hugh Mullholland, was at the Context Gallery, Derry in 1996, as part of Beyond Borders Plus. Since that time he has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions both in Britain/Ireland and internationally.

Solo Exhibitions (selected): 2014 – Intuitive actions, common attributes and isolated incidents, Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown (UK) 2012 – an elective family tree, The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s, Belfast – Download Catalogue PDF (UK); 2007 – Peter Richards, Gymnasium Gallery, Berwick upon Tweed (UK); 2006 – Peter Richards, Studio Lipoli & Lopez, Rome (IT); Paused II, Carnegie Museum & Art Gallery, Larne(UK); 2005 – Richards, ZDSLU Gallery, Ljubljana (SI); 2004 – Live, live art, Cornerhouse, Manchester (UK); Paused, Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown (UK); 2003 – Take two: little action, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast (UK); Recent Works, Droichead Art Centre, Drogheda (IE); 2002 – Recent Works (concurrent with show by Anthony Gormely), Model Arts Centre/Niland Gallery, Sligo (IE); Memorials, Belfast Exposed, Belfast (UK); 2000 – Cartoons, Proposition Gallery, Belfast (UK); 1999 – Another Something Other, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast (UK); 1996 – Corrective Perspective, Context Gallery, Derry (UK).

Group Exhibitions (selected): 2014: Voices Travel, curator Chin-ming, Lee & Brian Kennedy, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan (TW); Art of the Troubles, Wolverhampton Art Gallery (UK); Nearby and Faraway, F.E McWilliam Gallery & Studio, Banbridge (UK); Art of the Troubles, Ulster Museum, Belfast (UK) – Video interview; The Far Away Neabry, F.E Mc William Gallery (UK); 2012 – Les Intermittences du coeur, EX ELETTROFONICA, Rome (IT); Nepotism +1, Platform Arts, Belfast (UK); Oriel Davis Gallery, Powys (UK); 2011 – 26 Treasures, Ulster Museum, Belfast (UK); Revolution, Galerie Deadfly, Berlin (DE); 2010 – Elective Perspective, Galeria Arsenal, Bialystok (PL); A View from Napoleon’s Nose, Kao Yuan Arts Center, Kaohsuing (TW); 2009 – RHA Annual, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (IE); 2007 – Tides, Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, Pittsburgh (US); Vailartis – Arttakesthestreets, Grupo Forja & La Sala Naranja, Valencia (ES); Fix 2007, PS & Catalyst Arts, Belfast (UK); 2006 – Dogs Have No Religion, curator R. Drury, Czech Museum of Fine Art, Prague (CZ); Through Our Eyes, The Painting Center, New York (US); 2005 – The Nature of Things – A Long Weekend, Northern Irish Exhibition at the 51st Venice Biennial, Venice (IT); The Belfast Way, Herzlyia Museum, Tel Aviv (IL); Artistas del Belfast, La Sala Naranja, Valencia (ES); 2003 – Think Over, Rialto Sambrogio, Rome (IT); Periferias, Huesco, (ES); Return, The National Gallery, Goethe Institute, Dublin (IE); 2000 – L’art dans le monde, Paris Musées, Pont Alexandre III, Paris, (FR); The National Review of Live Art, The Arches, Glasgow (UK); The notice day in this factory is Thursday, Het Consortium, Amsterdam (NL); Bruce Barber, Peter Richards & Vallentin Torrens, curator J. Swidinski, Galeria Dzialan, Warsaw (PL); Interakcje 2000, curator J. Swidinski, Piotrkow Trybunalski & Wroclaw (PL); 1999 – New Contemporaries 99, South London Gallery & Liverpool Biennial (UK); Through A Glass Darkly, Het Consortium, Amsterdam (NL); 1998 – ASHOWABOUTTIME, Milch, London (UK); NI gulp, curator W. Baerwald, Plug In Gallery, Winnipeg (CA); Art From Belfast, Idaho Gallery, Chicago (US); Photo 98, Hull Time Based Arts (UK); Still to Real, Transmission, Glasgow (UK); 1997 – L’Événement Oblique, two-person with Marie-Andre Rho, Tangente, Montreal (CA); European Couples and Others, Transmission, Glasgow (UK); Phooey, The 3 Month Gallery, Liverpool (UK); 1996 – 2e Recontre International d’art Performance, Quebec (CA).

Richards’s studio practice is primarily engaged with the processes of constructing representations of existing representations, usually working with combinations of photography, video and performance. Regularly working with antiquated technologies, such as the Camera Obscurra or Pinhole Camera Richards has explored durational aspects of the early photographic techniques, creating works with exposure times ranging from several minutes to hours, rather than fractions of a second. Throughout his practice Richards has worked creating collaborative actions and processes that themselves create visual records of the duration of the collaborative activities.

Dan Shipsides

Visual Arts

Dan Shipsides is an artist based in Orchid Studios, Belfast. He is a former committee member at Catalyst Arts and Bbeyond. Shipsides also teaches on the MFA programme (Belfast School of Art).

Since 2004 he also works collaboratively with Neal Beggs as Shipsides and Beggs Projects. Dan Shipsides / Shipsides and Beggs Projects have exhibited nationally and internationally including;

ACCA, Melbourne (Desire Lines), CIAC, Carros, France (Frontiers & other songs of freedom), Ulster Museum (Art of the Troubles), The MAC, Belfast (Still not out of the woods), Aliceday Gallery, Brussels (Vigil | Star), Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol (Elastic Frontiers), Museum Contemporary Art, Sydney (Sporting Life), South London Gallery (Games & Theory), Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (Radical Architecture), Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin (Pioneers) Platform Guranti, Istanbul (Hit & Run), Konsthall C, Stockholm, Sweden (Under plattan, ängen!), Riga Sculpture Quadrennial, Latvia (European Space), Melbourne International Biennial (Signs of Life) and Smart Project Space, Amsterdam (Endure).

“I’m interested in creative and critical relationships to place, spaces, encounters and events. The processes of my work reflect and embody adventures and misadventures in ‘real life’ which often includes climbing and mountaineering alongside the day-to-day activities of life and an open response to the politicized landscape of urban Belfast where I live.

Within many of the works relating to the politicized nature of space in Belfast I’m interested in appropriating and disturbing the emblematic phraseology and iconography of place and rolling this up together with my contemporary lived experience, which for me includes anything, nothing is off topic, but especially the phenomenologically rich activity of climbing and mountaineering alongside more mundane aspects of daily life and events of place. It is a strange brew where a song sung by my child might sit next to the
drama or serenity of a mountain crag and the news of yet another rhetorical impasse at Stormont. Somewhere beneath it all there undoubtedly twists a form of the ‘sublime’. As part of this approach I am interested in colliding significant historic periods and places; the years around WW1, the 1970’s and the present; the Italian Dolomites and Ulster. I do so with a particular concern for the philosophical, political and the visual possibilities of meshing out-of-sync times, places and events.

For me the term landscape has expanded, spreading from the hills and mountains to include the imaged streets around me and also then to events, people, places and incidents that register in my life. All this is political, all this is present in my here and now and all this is connected.”

Ian McElhinney

Film, TV and Theatre

Ian McElhinney was born outside Lisburn in 1948. He studied at Edinburgh University and Brandeis University in Boston.

He is an actor and director, best known on screen for the films City of Ember (2008), Leap Year (2010) and Game of Thrones (2011). More recently he has appeared in the acclaimed BBC series The Fall (2013/2014). On stage he has acted in Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy for Field Day Theatre Company, in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot as well as writing and directing plays which have been performed across the globe.

In a career spanning 30 years, he has appeared in a wide range of productions related to the Troubles, or featuring them as a backdrop to the drama. These have included: “Angel (1982), Lamb (1985), A Prayer for the Dying (1987), The Grasscutter (1990), The Boxer (1997) and Omagh (2004).

He was nominated for Broadway’s 2001 Tony Award as Best Director (Play) for Marie Jone’s production of “Stones in His Pockets.”

Gráinne Tobin


Poet and translator Gráinne Tobin was born in Armagh in 1951 and lives in Newcastle, Co Down. She taught in Shimna Integrated College in Newcastle. She has published two collections: Banjaxed (Summer Palace Press, 2001) and The Nervous Flyer’s Companion (Summer Palace Press, 2010) .

Her poem ‘The Uses of Silk’ was longlisted for the 2013 National Poetry Competition. In 2014, she won the prestigious Segora Poetry Prize with her poem ‘From The Landing Cupboard’, adjudged the winner by Blake Morrison.

She was a contributor to and co-editor of the anthology Word of Mouth (Blackstaff, 1996) and its Russian bilingual text (St Petersburg Writers’ Union, 2004).

Siobhan Campbell


Siobhan Campbell was born in Dublin but spent much of her early life travelling on the ferry from Omeath to Warrenpoint to stay with family for long stretches of time.

Her latest book ‘Cross-Talk’ (Seren, 2010), ‘set in the wake of the turbulent Irish peace process’ – Poetry, follows two books from Blackstaff Press, The Permanent Wave and The Cold that Burns. She has published widely in the UK, US and Ireland, appearing magazines such as The Hopkins Review and Crab Orchard Review as well as Poetry Ireland, Poetry and Magma.

Her work is represented in the major anthologies including Identity Parade: New British and Irish poets (Bloodaxe) and Womens’ Work: twentieth century women poets (Seren).

She holds awards in the National Poetry Competition, the Troubadour International, the Wigtown poetry competition and the chapbook That Water Speaks in Tongues won the Templar Award. Siobhan studied at University College Dublin and at NYU and is on faculty at the Dept. of English, The Open University having lived in San Francisco, New York and Washington DC.

Siobhan has worked with soldier veterans of the conflict in Northern Ireland via creative writing with Combat Stress UK. She is the editor of Courage and Strength: Stories and Poems by Combat Veterans (KUP) and the founder of the Military Writing Network (MWN).

Siobhan’s work has been characterized as balancing ‘the tension between the reality of violence and the aesthetics of poetry’ (S.J. Litherland) and Bernard O’Donoghue notes: ‘Poems that are fierce luminous and clear-eyed: torpedoes lined with feather strokes’.

Siobhan’s forthcoming work is ‘That Other Island’ due from Seren Books in 2016.

“Ways of seeing, ways of telling. These are what are on my mind in poems like ‘Picture Perfect’ which tries to skewer our foibles and failures. ‘Antrim Boarders’ sets up several possible stories and allows for a lament for those left out of the narrative. For a poet, coming at the question of the human impact of conflict poses a distinct challenge. How to be true to both the reality and to the impulse of the lyric towards music? It turns out that a poem can take a dialectic approach, inviting us in, allowing for several seemingly disparate moments at once. We know that the personal is political and in ‘Legacy’ and ‘Antrim Views’ I try to capture both the sense of the exotic ‘North’ and some of the effect of transgression. There has to be room for humour, or at least for the serious play which we know is engendered by necessity. Art can cope. As Brecht tells us, ‘Yes there will also be singing, about the dark times’.”
Siobhan Campbell

Tim McGarry


Tim McGarry is a writer and Comedian from Belfast. He is best known for writing and performing in the long running BBC series “Give My Head Peace”.

He qualified as a lawyer and worked, alongside fellow writing partner Michael McDowell at the Fair Employment Commission in Northern Ireland. “Give My Head Peace” grew out of performances by the “Hole in the Wall Gang”, which included Marty Reid, Nuala McKeever and oscar nominee Damon Quinn.

“The Hole in the Wall Gang” came to greater public attention after appearances on BBC’s “Talkback” programme. BBC Radio Ulster gave them their own “Perforated Ulster” series which included a sketch called ‘Too Late to Talk to Billy and Paddy about love across the barricades and the terror triangle’ which eventually morphed into Give My Head Peace.

The series ran for 10 years and was consistently popular with the public with its irreverent take on the Troubles and local politicians.

Tim has also presented and written a large number of shows on TV, radio and on stage. These have included regularly hosting the BBC panel show “The Blame Game”, performing “Tim McGarry’s Irish History Lesson” on stage and presenting the documentary “Tim McGarry’s Ulster Scots Journey”.

He is a board member of the Grand Opera House in Belfast.

Dan Gordon


Dan Gordon is an actor, writer and director. He is best known for his appearnces as ‘Red Hand Luke’ in the BBC series “Give My Head Peace”.

Among many notable stage appearances over several decades of work, he has starred in Marie Jone’s “A Night in November” in London and at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.

As a director he has produced Frank McGuiness’s “Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme” with inmates from Hydebank Prison in South Belfast, which was filmed for a documentary series by the BBC.

He won the inaugural BBC NI Radio Drama Playwriting competition with “We Didn’t Just Build the Titanic You Know.” More recently he has written “The Boat Factory” , about the people of East Belfast , living around and working in the Harland and Wolff shipyard. This play toured successfully in the UK, Europe and America.

Away from the stage, Dan Gordon is a newspaper columnist and a regular commentator on TV and radio. He is on the board of the Lyric Theatre Belfast and the NI Actors Equity Committee, is an Artist in Residence for the Prison Arts Foundation, a member of the Arts & Business Advisory Committee and a Patron of Bruiser Theatre Company.

Stephen Rea


Stephen Rae was born in Belfast and attended Belfast High School and graduated in English from Queen’s University.

He trained as an actor with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in the 1970s and established the highly influential Field Day Theatre Company, with Brian Friel in 1980.

Since the 1970s he has acted in a wide range of productions on stage and screen, and maintained ongoing relationships with notable directors and writers, for example Sam Shepard and Neil Jordan. His work with Sam Sheperd commenced with the playwright’s directorial debut with “geography of a horse dreamer” through to “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)” which was premiered as part of Derry City of Culture in 2013. Rae’s work for Neil Jordan included “Angel” , “A Company of Wolves” and the role for which he was Oscar nominated in “The Crying Game”.

Maeve Murphy

Writer and Director

Maeve Murphy was born in Northern Ireland and educated at Cambridge University where she was the secretary of the Cambridge Footlights.

Her first short “Amazing Grace”, starring Aiden Gillan ( BFI/N. Irish Lottery) premiered at the London Film Festival and sold to Film 4. “Salvage” (N. Irish screen) starring Orla Brady premiered at the Cork Film Festival and was broadcast on R.T.E

Her debut feature “SILENT GRACE”( N.Irish screen/Irish Film Board) also starring Orla Brady premiered at the Galway Film festival 2001. It received widespread critical acclaim Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian said” bodes well for Murphy’s future movies.” Tara Brady of Dublin Hot Press said, “Maeve Murphy must be some kind of genius…wonderfully humane” Ronnie Scheib of Variety said “Assured helming by newcomer Maeve Murphy, unflagging pace throughout.” SILENT GRACE was awarded the Soka Art award. Released by Guerilla Films in cinemas in the Uk and Ireland in 2004. In 2014 SILENT GRACE was subject of a chapter in Jessica Scarlata’s new book on “Gender and Incarceration in Irish Film” It is discussed with “Some Mother’s Son”, H3 and “Hunger”.

Maeve’s second Feature BEYOND THE FIRE, starring Cara Seymour and Scot Williams, premiered at the Belfast Film Festival in 2009. Maeve as a director was awarded Best Film ( UK) at the London Independent film Festival 2009 and Best Film ( International) at the Garden State Film Festival USA 2010. It was also selected for New British Cinema at the ICA. Controversy broke out around the film when at the height of the church abuse scandal RTE said “there was no appetite for the subject.” Survivors expressed their fury in The Irish Independent and Ben Frow of TV3 told The Irish Independent that broadcasters had a duty to tell important subjects. TV3 then gave it an instant broadcast in 2010 calling it “shocking and controversial.” Sunday Mirror Ireland said “TV isn’t always mean to be easy” and made it their “Must See” film. Belfast Telegraph described it as “unsettling but brilliant drama.” Met Film Distribution received funding from UKFC for BEYOND THE FIRE’s release in cinemas in 2009/2010. Peter Bradshaw The Guardian said “it’s unironic belief in the power of love is attractive” It was broadcast by BBC2 2013, and made “Pick of the Day” Daily Mail.

Maeve’s third feature “TAKING STOCK” starring Kelly Brook was shot and edited in 2013/2014. The film is currently in post production. An extract of it was shot as a teaser short entitled SUSHI. This won the Sub-ti International Short Film Award which was announced and awarded at the Venice Film Festival 2011, “Venice Days” were judges. The announcement of the film with Kelly Brook was widely covered by the British Press.

TAKING STOCK – Feature in Post Production 2014
Northern Ireland Screen individual writer’s grant
Starring: Kelly Brook, Scot Williams, Georgia Groome, Femi Oyeniran, Jay Brown and Lorna Brown
Producers: Geoff Austin, Maeve Murphy and Exec Producer Frank Mannion


TAKING STOCK/SUSHI short United Kingdom 2011, 35 secs
Produced by Holly Wells and LONDON FILM ACADEMY
Starring Luanna Priestman and Junichi Kajioka

BEYOND THE FIRE - Feature 2009/10
Playing With Fire Ltd/Swipe Films/UKFC/ UK release Jun 2009
Premiere at New British Cinema ICA London
at the Garden State Film Festival 2010
at the London Independent Film Festival 2009
Best Director Nomination to Maeve Murphy at the London Independent Film Festival
Belfast Film Festival Premier 2009
Developed by Northern Irish Screen and The Irish Film Board
Starring: Scot Williams and Cara Seymour
Producers: Helen Alexander, Maeve Murphy and Exec Producer Frank Mannion

SILENT GRACE - Feature 2004
Crimson/Irish Screen/Guerilla UK release UGC London 13/2/4
WINNER OF SOKA ART AWARD AWARDED to Maeve Murphy (Soka Gakkai Japan)
Best Film Nomination (Conflict and Resolution Section) Hampton’s Film Festival USA
Aisling Award Nomination Northern Ireland
TWN Award for Excellence Nomination Northern Ireland
Critics Choice The London Metro and Dublin Hotpress
Galway Film Fleadh Premier, Taormina, Hamptons and Cannes Market
Developed by Northern Irish Screen
Completion Finance Irish Film Board
Starring: Orla Brady, Patrick Bergin and Conor Mullen

SALVAGE - Short 2001
Universale Imaginaria Special Award Nomination
Distributed by BFI – screened on RTE and UTV

BFI and NI Lottery
Edinburgh Film Festival, London Film Festival and Galway Film Festival
Screened on Channel 4 and Film 4. Starring Aidan Gillan

The Miracle People - Etc Theatre (Writer and Director)
Choose Hope, Choose Peace - SGI Multimedia Event – Wembley Conference Centre (Director)
Justice, Hope and Friendship - SGI Multimedia Event – Conway Hall (Director)
Now And At The Hour Of Our Death - TIME OUT AWARD (Co Writer)
Next To You I Lie - National Theatre Studio, Arts Council Funded (Co Writer)
Never Had It So Good – Nominated for Carrington London Fringe Award (Co Writer)

Sabine Wichert


Sabine Wichert was born in 1942 in Graudenz, West Prussia (now Grudziadz, Poland), grew up in West Germany and was educated at the Universities of Frankfurt/Main, Marburg, FU Berlin and Mannheim – and, in England, at LSE and Oxford.

She taught modern history at Queen’s University, Belfast from 1971 and was a Senior Lecturer there. She was a member of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland from the mid-1980s to 1994 and a member of the Board of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, appointed by both Arts Councils in Ireland. She published three volumes of poetry: Tin Drum Country (Salmon Poetry, 1995), Sharing Darwin (Salmon Poetry, 1999) and Taganrog (Lagan Press, 2004). A historian by profession her major publication in that field is Northern Ireland Since 1945 (Longmans, 1991)

She died on 8th September, 2014

A notice in the Irish Times stated that her death on 08 September 2014 was “regretted by her brothers, Peter and Christian, and extended family. She will be sadly missed by her wide circle of friends and family in Northern Ireland, Germany and elsewhere. Private memorial ceremony in Germany.”

Ann Zell


Ann Zell was born in the USA in 1933 and raised in Idaho. She came to Belfast in 1980 and began writing seriously in 1986.

She was one of the poets included in the important Word of Mouth collection (Blackstaff 1996). She has two collections Weathering (Salmon 1998) and Between Me and All Harm (Summer Palace 2005). She is represented in anthologies such as the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing Vol V (2002) and the Virago New Poets (1993), as well as publishing her work in most leading Irish journals and reading widely across Ireland and GB, including Aspects and Diablo Valley.

She is a founder member of Word of Mouth, a collective of women poets established in 1991.

Janet Shepperson


Janet Shepperson was born in Edinburgh, 1954. She studied English Literature at Aberdeen University and has worked as journalist, community services volunteer, administrative assistant and primary teacher. She has lived in Belfast since 1978.

After appearing in introduction series Trio 5 (1987), she published two pamphlets with Belfast’s Lapwing Press A Ring with a Black Stone (1989) and Madonna of the Spaces (1993). She debuted in 1995 with her first full collection The Aphrodite Stone (Salmon Poetry). Her second collection is Eve Complains To God (Lagan Press 2004).

Her poems are widely published in Ireland, England, Wales, the USA, Canada and Australia. A selection appears in the anthology Salmon: A Journey in Poetry (2007). Her translations of Carmen Firan’s Romanian poems appear in Sorescu’s Choice: Young Romanian Poets (2001).

She has also published short stories with two shortlisted for Hennessy Awards.

She has facilitated workshops for WEA, Queen’s University School of Lifelong Learning, the former Maze Prison, Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s ‘Writers in Schools’ scheme, Poetry in Motion, Creative Youth Partnerships, National Deaf Children’s Society and many others.

Ruth Hooley (Carr)


Ruth Carr was born in Belfast in 1953 and attended Queen’s University, Belfast, Stranmillis College and The University of Ulster.

She edited The Female Line in 1985 (under the name Hooley). This was the first anthology of drama, fiction and poetry by women to come out of N.Ireland. She also compiled the section on contemporary women’s fiction in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (IV/V) and was a co-editor of The Honest Ulsterman (HU poetry magazine) for about 15 years and produced its last issue (2003) in commemoration of its founding editor, James Simmons.

She is a founder member of the Word of Mouth women’s poetry collective whose Word of Mouth anthology (Blackstaff, 1998) has been translated into Russian and was launched in St Petersburg in November 2006. The collective has also produced a bilingual anthology in translation of five Russian Poets’ work, entitled When the Neva Rushes Backwards (Lagan Press, 2014). She has published two collections, There is a House and The Airing Cupboard (Summer Palace Press, 1999 & 2008), and is working on a third.

“The thing was, not to exploit the conflict but rather to address what was so immense and so much part of our lives in ways that did not preach or rant (there was an excess of that already), but that caught and added small human details to the huge canvas.”

Joan Newmann


Originally from County Armagh, she was a member of the Philip Hobsbaum Belfast Group – which included James Simmons and Seamus Heaney – which was at the centre of the poetry renaissance in Northern Ireland in the 1960s.

Her collections include Coming of Age (Belfast, The Blackstaff Press, 1995); Thin Ice (Belfast, Abbey Press, 1999); with Kate Newmann, Belongings, (Galway, Arlen House, 2007); and Prone (Kilcar, Co Donegal, Summer Palace Press, 2007). She is co-founder of Summer Palace Press, and was the recipient of the Samhain International Poetry Festival’s Craobh na hÉigse Award in 2004. She lives in Donegal.

Moyra Donaldson


Moyra Donaldson was born and brought up in Co Down and has been described as one of the country’s most distinctive and accomplished writers.

She has published five collections: Snakeskin Stilettos (1998), Beneath The Ice (2001), The Horse’s Nest (2006) and Miracle Fruit (2010) and The Goose Tree (2014), as well as Selected Poems (2012). Her poetry has won a number of awards, including the Allingham Award, the National Women’s Poetry Competition and the Cuirt New Writing Award. She has received four awards from the Arts Council of Northern ireland, most recently, the Artist Career Enhancement Award. Her poems have been anthologised and have featured on BBC Radio and television, including the Channel 4 production, Poems to Fall in Love With and she has read at festivals in Ireland, England, Canada, America and Hungary. Moyra is also an experienced creative writing tutor, working with individuals and groups in the literary, community and health care sectors. She has edited a number of anthologies and was literary editor for Fortnight magazine.

‘Moyra Donaldson has assimilated the powerful influences of Yeats, Hewitt, Hughes, Longley and Heaney, together with Plath and Liz Lochhead, to present a hard-won distinctive self…’
Medbh McGuckian

Sinéad Morrissey


Sinéad Morrissey was born in Portadown, Northern Ireland, in 1972 and has been writing poetry from a very early age. She has published five collections of poetry. In 1990 she became the youngest poet ever to receive the Patrick Kavanagh Award for Poetry, and has since been honoured with numerous other awards, amongst them the Michael Hartnett Award for Poetry, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship and a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. In 2013, she was the inaugural Poet Laureate for Belfast and in 2014 she won the TS Eliot Prize and the Irish Times Poetry Now Award a second time for her collection Parallax.

Morrissey’s attentive gaze scavenges landscapes, foreign and familiar, and evinces a hunger for images that unveil a little more of the mystery of why we are here. Making connections between the individual and their landscape; their own bodies; their ‘national’ and familial histories; their longings; and their losses, Morrissey perceives the interconnectedness of our presence on earth.

Her observation seems at times microscopic in its capacity, perceiving the texture and tenor of mirrors and clocks, flowers and fingertips. Amongst these objects, however, Morrissey is deeply conscious of absences and invisibilities. Treading into this in-between territory to contemplate angels, graves and ghosts, her poetry remains sensitive to the presence of absence, and this tension energises her work and makes room for transcendence amidst the temporal.

These are weighty poems that warrant contemplation, for their humour and shrewdness as well as their poignancy, to say little of their playfulness. Grief and grace are never far from one another in Morrissey’s work which revels in pivoting between seasons, emotions and places. Morrissey acknowledges imperfection, partiality and disorder while consistently displaying a sense of gratitude for what harmony there is, even if it only chimes in “almost perfect unison.”

Writings by Sinéad Morrissey

There Was Fire in Vancouver, Carcanet, Manchester, 1996
Between Here and There, Carcanet, Manchester, 2002
The State of the Prisons, Carcanet, Manchester, 2005
Through the Square Window, Carcanet, Manchester, 2009
Parallax, Carcanet, Manchester, 2013

Tess Hurson


Tess Hurson was born in the townland of Annaghbeg, on the Tyrone-Armagh border in 1955. She attended St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon, before reading English at Trinity College, Dublin. She completed her MA in Anglo-Irish Literature at Queen’s University, Belfast and her PhD at York University, Toronto. Her thesis topic was the work of Flann O’Brien.

She began writing while still at school, editing and contributing articles of a witty nature to the school magazine and to student poetry magazines while at Trinity College. For many years, her academic and journalistic work took up most of her writing energy, but encouraged by such writers as Polly Devlin, she returned to writing poetry and published her first collection, Vivarium, with Lagan Press, in 1997. Tess has worked in a wide range of jobs from waitress to shop assistant to factory worker, farm labourer to teaching international students, to rural and community development, journalism , conference organisation and community arts. She joined the staff of Queen’s university, first as Education Officer for the university’s outreach campus in Armagh and subsequently as a Senior Teaching Fellow with the School of Education. She is currently Director of Undergraduate Programmes in the School and has taught literature, disability studies and community development. She currently teaches a number of courses, including World Literature, founded by Edith Devlin and attracting some 300 adult education ‘Open Learning’ students each year. Over the years, she has given conference papers, published and broadcast on a wide range of subjects from rural identity to mental health to Irish literature. Her most recent publication is an essay and set of poems for the Art of Poetic Inquiry.

Tess was a member of the Arts Council for a number of years as well as being on the Boards of Fortnight Magazine and SELB. She is Chair of the internationally acclaimed Nerve Centre in Derry. She has worked over many years with a range of community based groups, especially in the area of disability. She won the prestigious BERA-SAGE award in 2011 for her creative research practitioner work with men and mental health. With her colleagues in the Open Learning team her work has been shortlisted for the Times Higher education awards (Contribution to the Community), and the team was also given recognition for their innovative, community based adult education with a Queen’s Teaching Award.

Paula Cunningham


Paula Cunningham was born in Omagh and lives in Belfast.. Her chapbook A Dog called Chance (Smith/Doorstop) was a winner in The Poetry Business Competition in 1999. Her first full-length poetry collection Heimlich’s Manoeuvre, Smith/Doorstop 2013, was shortlisted for the Fenton-Aldeburgh, Seamus Heaney Centre, and Strong Shine First Collection Prizes.

She has also written drama and short fiction, and has received awards from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Her short story ‘The Matchboy’ won 2nd prize in the Costa Short Story Award 2015. Individual poems have won prizes in the Hippocrates Poetry Prize, the Ballymaloe Interntional Poetry Prize and the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. Her work is widely anthologised and published in print and on-line journals in Ireland, the UK Europe, Canada and the US.

‘She has formal gifts in abundance… when her eye is on her native Ulster, magic and frightening things happen.’
Paula Meehan

Jean Bleakney


Jean Bleakney (née Kerr) was born in Newry in 1956, the daughter of a Border Customs Officer. Her family moved to Lisburn in 1973. She studied biochemistry at Queen’s University Belfast and worked in medical research for eight years. Following the birth of her second child, she chose to stay at home.

Fear and loathing of housework triggered an interest in gardening and, much to her surprise, the language of gardening. Having exhausted the appropriate section of the local library, she discovered, a few stacks along, Wendy Cope’s Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis. Interest piqued, she began putting words together and, in 1993, she started attending the weekly writing workshop at Queen’s.

Her first collection of poems, The Ripple Tank Experiment, was published in by Lagan Press in 1999, followed by The Poet’s Ivy (2003) and ions (2011). Her poems have appeared in various anthologies and in magazines including Poetry Ireland Review, The Rialto, THE SHOp, Metre, TLS and The Yellow Nib. Also online at several sites including Poetry Proper Vol, 2 , Poetry International and From The Fishouse.

She worked in a garden centre for over 20 years.

“I had no desire to write poems addressing the Troubles directly, but in the days following key events such as the IRA Ceasefire in 1994, and the atrocities of summer 1998, silence was not an option.”

Gerry Creen

Traditional Music

Gerry Creen emerged from the vibrant Belfast folk scene of the 1960s and 70s. In his early teens he began playing mandolin, tenor banjo and guitar to accompany his singing in youth club groups and folk bands, such as The Gleaners.

Gerry and Dessie Friel (father of Anna Friel) played in school concerts and coffee houses such as The Hobbit, The Ferryboat and The Boundary Bar, where they rubbed shoulders with musicians and singers such as David McWilliams, Den Warrick, Patsy Melarkey, Gillian McPherson, Sam Bracken and Dave Shannon and a host of traditional musicians all part of the vibrant traditional and contemporary Belfast folk scene. Gerry and Dessie supported The Dubliners and Johnny McEvoy at the Ulster Hall.

When Dessie left Belfast for college in England, Gerry headed off to The College of Art at the University of Ulster. Gerry and Hugh joined Peter Millar and Sam Bateman to form Rumplestiltskin. Rump was influenced by a very wide range of music including, World folk music, Blues and Rock. From The Cream and Hendrix to Fairport Convention, Crosby/Stills/Nash and The Incredible String Band. Rump was very experimental, using as many as 14 instruments, including, sitar and Indian harmonium, during a gig. Peter, Sam and Gerry wrote songs as individuals and occasionally collaborated on original songs.

Gerry was increasingly drawn into his career in Art but found some time to make guest appearances with Patsy Melarkey, Colin Higgins, Louis Gordon, Hugh Fearon and Peter McNally. Armed with a growing reputation as a singer/songwriter, honed in folk clubs associated with The Ulster Federation of Folk clubs such as The Sunflower, The Walnut, Downpatrick Folk club, The Copper Kettle (Enniskillen) etc. Gerry embarked on a part-time solo career playing the “Folk Circuit” of clubs and festivals around Ireland. In 1976 Gerry was awarded the prize for “Best Vocalist” at the Letterkenny International Folk Festival, and in 1979 his song “A Rose By Any Other Name” won best song at The Bass Ireland Song Festival. Gerry played at The Belfast Festival at Queens, five years in succession, culminating in the launch of his album, “A Rose by any other Name” at The Harp folk club in November 1986

Much of Gerry’s time was dedicated to his career as a teacher and his family life. For 30 years Gerry taught art at St. Louise’s Comprehensive College on the Falls Road in west Belfast. Since 2008 Gerry has been playing mainly solo gigs to promote his recent CD ‘Hindsight’ (2009) and his re-released album from 1986 ‘A Rose By Any Other Name’. Gerry has had a prominent place in the most recent Belfast/Nashville Singer/Songwriter Festivals and his song Lucky Star is part of the festival’s promotional CD “Voices of Belfast”. At several of its events the David Ervine Foundation invited him to perform his timeless and profoundly moving peace anthem ‘A Rose By Any Other Name’ which was written in 1977 during some of the darkest times of the Troubles. He was invited to perform at events by Healing Through Remembering and Wave Trauma Organisation– singing to audiences which included republicans, loyalists, politicians, members of the security forces and young people from different parts of a divided community.

Gerry’s more recent song “My Shoes” which is about how we label each other has also been used by Healing Through Remembering. In 2007 he wrote and performed the title track Tuesday’s Child on a double album for the children’s charity of the same name featuring the very best in Irish music – including Mary Black, Brian Kennedy, Duke Special, Foy Vance, Snow Patrol. Gerry continues to write songs about current issues including ecology, social issues and songs based on stories from history. He continues to play solo and tours in Ireland and Scotland.

“I lived in north Belfast and worked in a secondary school in west Belfast throughout the Troubles and was the victim of an attempted abduction by a loyalist gang in June 1972. I have witnessed first hand almost every aspect of the Troubles. As a songwriter I have attempted to address some of these issues from my perspective.”
Gerry Creen

Martin Forker

Visual Arts

Martin Forker

Dr. Martin Forker was born in Belfast in 1951. In 1990, he was awarded the Royal Ulster Academy (Invitation Award). In 2002, he was awarded a doctorate from Queens University Belfast. His doctorate is entitled “A Diagnostic Profile of Art Understandings and Social Attributions based on Written Responses to Conflict Imagery”. Presently, he is Professor in the Applied English Department of Shih Chien University, Kaohsiung Campus in Taiwan.

Research Interests:

His research interests include: conflict imagery, symbolism, Irish political cartoons, Northern Ireland murals, visual literacy, art assessment in education, art history, and the use of imagery in second language acquisition. He has published academic papers related to the Northern Ireland conflict, art education, and art history in various journals in America, Japan, England and Taiwan.


Solo Exhibition: Queen’s University of Belfast Fringe Festival, 1975

Tom Caldwell Gallery, Springfield Group Exhibition, Northern Ireland, 1976

Octagon Gallery, Belfast, 1977

Monaghan Museum Annual Group Exhibition,1977-1985

Belfast Workers’ Festival Touring Exhibition, 1985

Royal Ulster Academy Exhibition, Belfast, 1990

Cavehill Gallery, Summer Group Exhibition, Belfast, 1990

Chishan Art Association Group Exhibition, Taiwan, 2005

Chishan Art Association Group Exhibition, Taiwan, 2006

Chishan Group Art Association Exhibition, Taiwan, 2007

Solo Exhibition: Chih-Mei Gallery, Cultural Centre, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 2007

Art Collections:

Allied Irish Bank Art Collection, Republic of Ireland

Monaghan Museum, Republic of Ireland

Private Collections: Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

Critical Appraisal of Martin Forker’s Artwork:

Professor Tony Gallagher, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University of Belfast, states “For over a quarter century Belfast was a cauldron within which a heady brew of hurt and hatred mixed, and spawned generations who believed that violence was the cure of all their ills. The momentum of hate eventually spluttered and stopped, and a peace process of hope began. The ten years since have seen a peace that is both fragile and incomplete, but it has been a decade of some hope. Remarkably, even though a striking feature of popular politics was the widespread use of wall murals, as markers of territory and ideas, the arts establishment more often than not avoided the subject, perhaps afraid of being drawn into a Manichean struggle. Absent a detailed repository on which we might reflect, there is perhaps a danger of a reconstruction of memory, of an imagined golden age in which the brutal and brutalizing effects of violence are washed away by a heady romanticism. These works by Martin Forker will serve as an antidote to such re-imaginings. There is a stark simplicity to many of these images, in which haunted figures wear on their faces, and in their eyes, the terrible sights they have seen. There is no romanticism here, no golden age, no heroes or heroines. Rather there are victims, lives destroyed, pain endured. And yet, his later images are more complex, more ambivalent. The wider cast of characters suggests a context of change, even though the direction and outcome remains unclear, with the past crashing into the present, and shaping the future in ways we cannot yet predict. He captures a moment of uncertainty, but perhaps one in which new possibilities exists, if we can seize the moment. In the rush to peace there are some, perhaps too many, feel that the best way to deal with a difficult past is to pretend it never existed, but like the proverbial ‘elephant in the corner’, the memory of those years will live on, even if only in the quiet place of bitter and painful remembering. So until the legacy of violence is addressed we will need constant reminders that it remains unaddressed, and art and artists have their role to play, to confront us with the uncomfortable past and ask the awkward questions we should not avoid. Martin Forker’s collection confronts us with these stark realities, it reminds us of what we would rather forget, but cannot. His images challenge us to deal with the pain we must confront before there is any hope of cure”

A Collection of Paintings and Drawings by Martin Forker, 2007, p.4.

“An even darker, more nightmarish Belfast Expressionism was exhibited in 1977 by Martin Forker… Forker presented an uncompromisingly cruel view of local society and organized religion. Like James Ensor and Emile Nolde, Forker peoples his world with grinning, cackling masks and even the artist’s own heroes move through his paintings like holy innocents, have mask-like faces. While these paintings are not representations of specific events in the Troubles they express some of its root causes and effects. This was particularly true of one painting in which Chaplin, as the policeman in Easy Street, is confronted by ghetto violence. Would the clown succeed in quietening the situation here when orthodox law enforcement officers have failed? There was humor in some of Forker’s works but it is was a grim gallows humour”

Mike Catto, Art in Ulster 2, 1977, p.133.

“The same expressionist handling of Belfast women’s day-to-day lives can be found in Martin Forker’s series of drawings…while he was living in Turf Lodge, one of Belfast’s most depressing post-war Catholic housing estates. Forker was witness to many of the intolerable strains imposed on local women…Rosie Nolan…separated from her husband, mother of a mentally handicapped child, living in an appallingly sub-standard flat, she eventually hanged herself. Forker’s drawings of her fate and of the situation of other local women are heavily influenced by German Expressionism.”

Mother Ireland and the Troubles: Artist, Model and Reality. Belinda Loftus, Circa Art Journal, November/December 1981.

“Käthe Kollwitz evokes a somewhat one-dimensional image of a socialist artist depicting the afflictions of working-class women in a strongly expressionist style…and it is the socialist, feminist, and expressionist elements in her output which are most frequently reworked by present-day artists. Thus in Northern Ireland context they have been heavily influenced the socially committed, strongly graphic depictions of working class women in West Belfast by Patricia McComish and Martin Forker.”

Belinda Loftus, Circa Art Journal, Number 11, 1983, p.23.

“What struck me immediately was that Martin’s art was “engaged”, not cut off from a sense of ‘place’ and ‘people’ as so much ‘disconnected’ art is. Much of his imagery came from communities he had lived in, passed through or had connections with, such as Turf Lodge and the Ardoyne district. My overall Impression of the work was of humanity and hope. In a world of artifice, the work and the concerns felt authentic.”

Alistair MacLennan, Professor of Fine Art, University of Ulster. Cromla Art Magazine, Belfast, November 1988.

Artist’s Statement:

“In order that human beings bring about the most radiant conditions for themselves to inhabit, it is essential that the vision of reality which poetry offers be transformative, more than just a printout of the given circumstance of its time and place”

Seamus Heaney, Joy or Night.

The power of art, as Heaney suggests, is in its power to transform. Hopefully, my imagery transforms by giving a vision of reality of the conflict in Northern Ireland – not just a printout of the given circumstance of its time and place. Much of the symbols employed by both imagined communities in Northern Ireland tend to evolve through a process of sanctification or demonization. Many of my images reflect such concepts. Conflicts come to be seen as “holy wars’ where one side is upholding the ‘forces of light’ against the ‘forces of darkness’ - they give rise to fantasies of suffering and unspeakable horror. Symbols, arts, rituals, sacred texts and myths of all religions are full of violence: sometimes that violence is a violence suffered, other times it is a violence delivered. Some of my imagery depicts Belfast people living in poor housing conditions in the 1970s, the distressing nature of urban deprivation, a “cruel view” of local society and organized religion, and a local mythology immersed in political and religious conflict. Belfast Stigmata (1976) highlights the issue of Catholic girls falling pregnant to British soldiers at the beginning of the conflict and the social stigma they suffered from their nationalist neighbours.

Kristalnacht (Night of Broken Glass) was a pogrom against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and Austria on 9-10 November 1938, carried out by SA paramilitary forces and non-Jewish civilians. The name Kristalnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues had their windows smashed. In my drawing, Belfast Kristalnacht (1977), a ghetto baby sits in a pram in a filthy West Belfast street surrounded with broken milk bottle forms. Above the baby’s head, a broken bottle ‘martyr’s crown’ motif symbolizes the notion of ‘holy innocents’. Such motifs are also evident in Ghetto Madonna (1977), Ghetto Coal Girl (1976), Ghetto Baby (1976), and High-School Arsonist (1976). Belfast Stigmata (1977) depicts a young Catholic girl who became pregnant to a British soldier. Consequently, she was tarred and feathered by some of her neighbours.

My Homeless Men series portrays the plight of destitute men who found solace in a St. Vincent De Paul hostel on the Falls Road in Belfast during the early 1970s. In one drawing, some of the same old men are depicted as puppet masters who control and encourage the conflict. The imagery in Belfast Street Games 1 (1980) and Belfast Street Games 2 (1980) is an antithesis to William Conor’s romantic imagery of early 20th century Belfast street games - they are macabre images, more akin to Macbeth’s witches. My Belfast Man series attempts to show the tension and misery of working-class men living in a conflicted society.

Images of women throughout the history of Ireland have engaged viewers and served as inspiration and propaganda. Female political per¬sonifications such as Mother Ireland, and female religious icons such as the Virgin Mary and the Protestant martyr Margaret Wilson, have potent political resonance, serving both to unite and divide the social, religious, and political domains. Irish female political symbols can be submissive, aggressive, fertile, or sterile. Mother Ireland and her entourage are two-faced, beau¬tiful and horrific, subservient and manipulative. Mother Ireland (1975) is the first of a series of my Mother Ireland imagery – a mother lamenting the fate of her suffering child (Ulster). Maggie Moon (Mother Ireland) depicts Mother Ireland as a destitute mother, incapable of love drinking the sacrificial blood of her martyred children. Just like Morrigan the Irish moon goddess, Maggie Moon represents the moon as a ‘polluted’ mother and crone seen in the phases of the full moon, and the waning moon.

Rose with a Thorn (1985) depicts the Belfast woman, Rosie Nolan, who was separated from her husband and a mother of a mentally handicapped child. She lived in appallingly conditions in Turf Lodge flat and ultimately hanged herself. Rose with a Thorn echoes Ring O’Roses, a nursery rhyme interpreted as reference to the Black Plague which killed over twenty-five million people in 14th century Europe. In this inter¬pretation, the name ‘Rosie’ referred to the flowers used to adorn the corpses and the Ring referred to the round, red rash, the first symptom of the disease. The ringed shapes of the electric light bulb and the noose in Rose with a Thorn underscore the sheer horror of Rosie Nolan’s tragic suicide. Other female personifications such as Sunday Morning Banshee are based on the Irish mythology of banshees influenced by stories told to me by my grandmother during my childhood. Female personifications such as Sunday Morning Banshee are based on the Irish mythology of banshees influenced by stories told to me by my grandmother during my childhood. According to Irish mythology, banshees were death messengers to ancient Irish families. Annie Montgomery: The Old Woman of Belfast is based on Padriac Pearse’s poem Mise Eire: I am Ireland, I am older than the Old Woman of Beare. Accord¬ing to Irish legend, the Old Woman of Beare had seven recurring periods of youth; so that every man who had lived with her came to die of old age. Ultimately, her grandsons and great-grandsons evolved into the various tribes and races of Ireland.

On Friday, 17 May 1974, three no-warning car bombs ripped through the heart of Dublin at 5.30 pm. Twenty-six people and an unborn baby lost their lives. In Monaghan town seven people died. This has been the greatest loss of life in a single day of the Troubles, including even the Omagh atrocity of 15 August 1998. An Irish Good Friday 2 (1988) depicts a small County Monaghan pub in the Republic of Ireland. An Irish banshee materializes from the fiddler’s magical violin. After the bomb attack, the people of Monaghan became very suspicious of strangers. Superficially, they were friendly to outsiders who they called ‘Northerners’ or ‘Drop Ins’ but they remained deeply distrustful of them. The figures who gaze directly at the viewer, on the bottom-left and the bottom right of the composition, attempt to depict the Monaghan community’s fears.

On a Mission from God (1995) depicts the notions of sanctification and demonization. Under a purplish moonlit sky, an ethereal Cavehill Mountain is presented. In the background, Christ is depicted entering Belfast on a donkey. Gerry Adams is presented as a sanctified Christ-like figure (Sacred Heart) robed in an Irish tricolor holding a Gerry Adam toy figurine with a shamrock on its head. Behind Adams, an Irish simian Frankenstein figure holds a bloodied dagger. Irish historical figures such as James Connolly and Henry Joy McCracken stand next to a St Patrick figure that looks down upon a Black Adder Ian Paisley with a Union Jack. Symbolizing the two ancient brotherhoods of Ireland, the Blues Brothers are depicted wearing traditional Orange Order and Ancient Order of Hibernians sashes. A shadowy gunman stands above a reclining Superman figure, a symbol of the heroic dead, under a green Belfast gas lamp. A Chaplinesque figure dressed as a soldier signifies the soldiers of the 36th (Ulster) Division who fought in the Battle of the Somme in World War 1. A mural of the hunger striker, Bobby Sands is shown on the left of the composition while a mural depicting King William of Orange on his white horse at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Ulster Protestants had been given, occupied, and defended an ‘alien land’. In Alien Crucifixion (2004), an alien Christ-like figure hangs from an old Belfast gas lamp. Under a purplish moonlit sky, an eerie Cavehill Mountain is shown. A Belfast boy runs way staring accusingly at the viewer. A deceased Superman, a symbol for the heroic dead, is depicted on top of a Union Jack and an Irish tricolor. Vincent van Gogh and Buster Keaton represent innocent victimhood. A smirking Yoda Star Wars character plays an Orange Order drum lamenting the death of the Christ-like alien on a Belfast lamppost. Another alien-like creature, wearing an Ancient Order of the Hibernians sash, is depicted holding a spear traditionally used by Roman soldiers at Christ’s Crucifixion. An iconic image of Loyalist identity “To the Cross I Cling” is depicted as a Belfast mural next to a Belfast elegiac mother and child and a smirking George Best (a symbol of a Belfast hero). An Irish Republican mural commemorating the 1916 Irish Rebellion is depicted on a gable wall. Lamenting figures of women are also shown. An ET figure points his mystical, luminous finger upwards and a Harry Potter figure raises his magical wand - both are powerless to end the suffering and the violence - all walk on the street of mourning.

In Ecce Homo 2, (2004) a scourged Christ with a UFF motif carved on his chest is shown on a red-blood Belfast apocalyptic street. The Shankill Butchers sometimes carved inscriptions onto their victims flesh. In the background, Cavehill Mountain creates a sense of impending doom. Ian Paisley once described the Northern Ireland conflict as one between the Lamb of God and the Whore of Babylon. A roaring Ian Paisley garbed with an Orange Order sash dominates the composition as he holds a Bible and a grotesquely smiling figurine of himself with the Red Hand of Ulster on its head. Paisley was renowned for yelling his slogan “Ulster Says No!” A Rocky-type figure holds a St. Veronica/Holy Shroud of Turin image while an ET figure points his radiant finger at a Shankill Butcher skeletal figure holding a bloodied cleaver above Christ’s head. Irish simian figures are depicted on the left and the right of the composition. In the 1860s, Irishmen increasingly were represented, especially after the rise of the Fenian Movement, as apelike monsters menacing law, order, and British middle-class values. The Irish were depicted as being monstrous, inhuman and heartless in 19th century periodicals. Belfast street murals of the Virgin Mary and a chilling death-like figure clutches a Union Jack are also depicted. Other figures include a Chaplinesque Lambeg drummer, Laurel and Hardy, Vincent van Gogh, and Wizard of Oz characters (all symbols of innocent victimhood), Superman (a symbol for the heroic dead), the Lone Ranger (a symbol for law and order), the Blues Brothers (symbols of the two ancient brotherhoods in Ireland), a member of an Orange Order band playing a flute, an intimidating gunman, and several mournful women. Some are heroes, some are victims - all walk on the red-blood Belfast apocalyptic street of bigotry, sectarianism, and death.

The Pied Piper of Belfast (2005) with the spirit of an Irish banshee materializing from his enchanted flute reflects the notion of a musical mythomoteur. Loyalists and Irish Republicans have a combination of myths and beliefs which inform each group’s mythomoteur that endows their ideology with shape and direction. Both groups employ music to achieve their agendas. In short, the image attempts to portray how Belfast children are affected by Loyalist and Irish Republican beliefs through the power of traditional music. Belfast children learn in the School of Sorrow where lessons of bigotry, sectarianism, and tribal affiliations are taught.

Christina Reid


Christina Reid is a playwright from Belfast. She was a writer-in-residence at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast and at the Young Vic. In London.

She has won the Thames Television Playwriting Award for “Tea in a China Cup”, the Ulster Television Drama Award for “Did You Hear the One About the Irishman?”, The Giles Cooper Award for “The Last of a Dyin’ Race” and the George Devine Award for “The Belle of the Belfast City”

Christina Reid died on 31st May, 2015


Tea In A China Cup, Lyric Theatre, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1983

Did You Hear The One About The Irishman . . .?, New York, 1985

Joyriders, Tricycle Theatre, London, 1986

The Belle Of Belfast City, Lyric Theatre, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1989

My Name, Shall I Tell You My Name? Andrews Lane Theatre, Dublin, 1989

Lords, Dukes and Earls, Young Vic Theatre, London,1989

Les Misérables, Nottingham Playhouse, 1992

Clowns, The Orange Tree Theatre, 1996

The King of the Castle, Cottesloe Theatre, National Theatre, London, 1999

Clowns, The Room, Orange Tree, Richmond, 1996

The Understudy, Tinderbox Theatre Company, Belfast, 2003

The Gift of the Gab, National Threatre, London, 2003

A Year And A Day, National Theatre, London, 2007


The Last of a Dyin’ Race, UTV / Channel 4 / RTE, 1988

Pie in the Sky, episode for Series 3, 1995

Streetwise, 13 episodes,1991


The Last of a Dyin’ Race, BBC Radio 4, 1986

My name, Shall I Tell You My Name, BBC radio 4, 1987

Of All the Gin Joints, BBC radio 4, 1989

The Unfortunate Fursey, Dramitisation of a novel by Mervyn Wall, BBC Radio 4, 1989

Today and Yesterday in Northern Ireland, BBC Radio Ulster, 1989

Citizens, 6 episodes for serial, BBC, 1989

The Belle of the Belfast City, BBC radio 4, 1990

Summertime Donaghadee, BBC Radio 4, 1996

The Bomb Damage Sale Wedding Dress, BBC radio 4, 1998

The Funeral Orator’s Tale, BBC Radio 4, 2000

Sex and the Single Granny, Lyric FM, 2005


Last of a Dyin’ Race, Metheun Best Radio Plays of 1986, 1986

Did You Hear The One About The Irishman . . .? and Joyriders, Heinemann, 1993

Christina Reid: Plays One, Methuen Drama, 1997 (Reprinted 2002)

My name, Shall I Tell You My Name, Routledge, War Plays by Women, 1999

The King of the Castle, Faber and faber, New Connections, 1999

The Gift of the Gab, Barrington Stoke Ltd, 2004

A Year and a Day, Faber and Faber, NT Connections, 2007

The Belle of the Belfast City, in ‘The Metheun Drama Anthology of Irish Plays’, 2008

Brian Friel


Brian Friel was born on 9th January 1929 in Omagh, County Tyrone. His father was a schoolteacher, and a councillor on Londonderry Corporation (Derry City Council). His mother was postmistress of Glenties, Donegal.

Friel studied at St Columb’s College (Derry), St Patrick’s College (Maynooth) and St. Joseph’s Teacher Training College (Belfast). He taught as a school teacher until becoming a full time writer in 1960. In 1954 he married Anne Morrison.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s Friel wrote plays for a range of theatres, including the Group Theatre (Belfast), the Lyric Theatre (Belfast), the Abbey Theatre (Dublin) as well as being produced on BBC Northern Ireland. His breakthrough came in 1964 with ‘Philadelphia, Here I Come!’ The play is set the night before the central character’s move to America with the public and private thoughts of the character Gar being displayed through the innovative use of two actors for the single role: Gar Public (“the Gar that people see, talk to, talk about”) and Gar Private (“the unseen man, the man within, the conscience”). The play was an immediate success with the public and the critics.

His works have a political and cultural element informed by his experiences. He took part in the civil rights march in Derry in 1972 which ended with the shooting of civilians by the British army. The following year his play ‘The Freedom of the City’ was produced, which explicitly dealt with the “Troubles”, being set at an imagined hearing into the deaths of three unarmed civilians in Derry.

In 1980 Friel co-founded the Field Day Theatre Company with actor Stephen Rea. Their first production was ‘Translations’ starring Stephen Rea, Liam Neeson, and Ray MacAnally. The play tackles the issues of differences of language and conflicts between love and cultural identity in an anglo-Irish context. The play was a worldwide critical success, due to the relevance of its themes to conflicts around the globe.

Friel went on to achieve great public and critical success with later works, such as ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’, in 1990, which won several Tony Awards, including Best Play, the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. It was also turned into a film, in 1998, starring Meryl Streep. The film’s scriptwriter was the acclaimed County Donegal playwright Frank McGuinness.

Friel has received many honours for his work. He was appointed to Seanad Éireann in 1987 and served until 1989. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the British Royal Society of Literature, the Irish Academy of Letters and an honorary fellow of the Royal Irish Academy of Music. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of Literature by the National University of Ireland. In 2009, Queen’s University Belfast opened the Brian Friel Centre for Theatre Research.


A Sort of Freedom (unpublished radio play), 1958.

To This Hard House (unpublished radio play), 1958.

A Doubtful Paradise (unpublished), 1960.

The Enemy Within,1962.

The Saucer of Larks: Stories of Ireland. New York: Doubleday, 1962.

The Blind Mice (unpublished), 1963

The Founder Members (unpublished TV play), 1964.

Three Fathers, Three Sons (unpublished TV play), 1964.

Philadelphia, Here I Come! New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1965.

The Gold in the Sea. New York: Doubleday, 1966.

The Loves of Cass McGuire. New York: Noonday Press, 1966.

Lovers. London: Faber and Faber, 1969.

Crystal and Fox. London: Faber and Faber, 1969.

Crystal and Fox and The Mundy Scheme. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1970.

The Gentle Island. London: Davis-Poynter, 1973.

Freedom of the City. London: Faber and Faber, 1974.

The Enemy Within. Newark: Proscenium Press, 1975.

Farewell to Ardstraw (unpublished BBC TV play), 1976.

The Next Parish (unpublished BBC TV play), 1976.

Living Quarters. London: Faber and Faber, 1978.

Volunteers. London: Faber and Faber, 1979.

Selected Stories. Dublin: Gallery Press, 1979.

Aristocrats. Dublin: Gallery Press, 1980.

Faith Healer. London: Faber and Faber, 1980.

Translations. London: Faber and Faber, 1981.

Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov. Dublin: Gallery Press, 1981.

American Welcome. Best Short Plays 1981. Ed. Stanley Richards. Radnor: Chilton Books, 1981.

The Diviner: Best Stories of Brian Friel. Dublin: O’Brien Press,1983.

The Communication Cord. London: Faber and Faber, 1983.

Fathers and Sons. London: Faber and Faber, 1987.

Making History. London: Faber and Faber, 1988.

Dancing at Lughnasa. London: Faber and Faber, 1990.

London Vertigo. Oldcastle: Gallery Press, 1990.

A Month in the Country. Oldcastle: Gallery Press, 1992.

Wonderful Tennessee. Oldcastle: Gallery Press, 1993.

Molly Sweeney. Oldcastle: Gallery Press, 1994.

Give Me Your Answer, Do!, New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1997.

Uncle Vanya (Chekhov adaptation), Oldcastle: Gallery Press, 1998.

The Yalta Game (one-act Chekhov adaptation), Oldcaste: Gallery Press, 2001.

The Bear (one-act Chekhov adaptation), Oldcastle: Gallery Press, 2002.

Afterplay, Oldcastle: Gallery Press, 2002.

Performance, Oldcastle: Gallery Press, 2003.

The Home Place, Oldcastle: Gallery Press, 2005.

Hedda Gabler (Henrick Ibsen adaptation), Oldcastle: Gallery Press, 2008.

Stephen Gardner

Contemporary Music

​Stephen Gardner was born in Belfast in 1958 and studied at the University of Ulster and University of Wales from 1984 to 1990.

His first commission was ‘Wanting, Not wanting’ in 1992. An RTE commission in 2004 was called ‘Never… Never… Never…’ . Both works express his response to The Troubles.

“I grew up in a loyalist estate, north of Belfast. There was trouble, now and again, but it was mostly a great place to grow up in. I did have an uncle who was murdered in 1978, but the effects of the Troubles were probably more subliminal. I did feel I needed to express my feelings about it in 2 works. Specifically I have used the music of ‘The Sash’ in about 6 works, but only ‘Jigs and Reels’ (2014), for string quartet, made the tune explicit.

Simon Mawhinney

Contemporary Music

Simon Mawhinney’s work as a composer has a notably international focus, with high profile musicians in Germany, France, Iceland, UK and elsewhere regularly collaborating with him on new projects.

His music ranges from quietude to frenetic exhilaration and draws on a wide range of contemporary influences: from complexist music to the colouristic harmonies of post-spectralism to the cantillation of numerous cultures. He has a particular interest in the music of Boulez and Messiaen, regarding the former’s Derive 2 as a pinnacle of contemporary music. He has performed Messiaen’s piano work Vingt Regards and will begin teaching a new module about Messiaen’s music in 2013. Indeed, his fondness for including performance in his work both as composer and lecturer was recognized by in 2012 by a Queen’s University Teaching Award.

Recent composition projects have included Hunshigo for violin and piano (recorded for Altarus Records by Darragh Morgan and Mary Dullea), Perseid (commissioned by Ensemble Recherche, Germany), Starbog for chamber orchestra (commissioned by Ensemble Caput, Iceland). Mary Dullea has recently recorded his 55-minute piano work, Marlacoo, scheduled for CD release in late 2013 and Kolbeinn Bjarnason will record his sequence of piecesfor bass flute and computer in 2014.

In early 2013, Simon Mawhinney was awarded a period of study leave to focus on the completion of a nine-movement work for viola d’amore and string quartet – believed to be the first work written for this particular grouping of instruments. This work was commissioned by Garth Knox and Quatuor Béla.

Philip Hammond

Contemporary Music

Philip Hammond was born in Belfast in 1951. He graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in l974 as a Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts.

In July 2003, he became the first composer ever to graduate as a Doctor of Music from Queen’s.

Following an encompassing career in teaching, performing and writing, he retired from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2009 after twenty years which included two years designing and managing an international arts festival in Washington DC complementing Northern Ireland’s presence at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2007.

In retirement he is often engaged as a presenter and correspondent by the BBC and RTÉ and he writes critiques for the Belfast Telegraph and the Culture Northern Ireland website.

Philip Hammond has received commissions for, amongst others, the Ulster Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, the contemporary ensemble Lontano, the Brodsky String Quartet

and for individual musicians such as Sir James Galway, Sarah Walker, Suzanne Murphy, Tasmin Little, Barry Douglas, Nikolai Demidenko and Dame Ann Murray.

His “Miniatures and Modulations” piano pieces were based on the Bunting Collection of 1796 and commissioned by the 2011 Belfast Festival at Queen’s for the three young Irish pianists Michael McHale, David Quigley and Cathal Breslin

who are also playing on a CD of his piano music released as part of his 6oth Anniversary celebrations year.

For April 2012, he wrote a “Requiem for the lost souls of the Titanic” which was performed in Belfast Cathedral on the night the ship went down exactly one hundred years before.

“Like most classical music composers in Northern Ireland, the Troubles is reflected in my work only tangentially and indirectly.

I did not write music which portrayed or referred to specific events during the forty years of the Troubles as it seemed too obvious and unnecessary, for want of a better word, to do so.

Whereas other artforms felt comfortable with directly reflecting the subtle and not so subtle consequences of community division, mere criminality and outright violence,

I as a classical music composer did not feel “inspired” by such considerations.

However, it is undoubtedly a fact that all of us who lived here through that period from the sixties onwards for several decades were affected one way or another, and probably in ways we don’t even realize.”

“…while the sun shines…” could be seen as an indirect outcome of the Troubles in that it highlights the music of what is simplistically referred to as “the two traditions” here in Ireland,

under the banner of a memorial tribute to Sir Hamilton Harty. Harty was brought up in Hillsborough Co.Down and aware of his Irish heritage musically although from whatever “religious” source

that heritage was aligned with. He considered himself an Irishman but not in opposition to any other nationality because such a thought probably never entered his head.

He lived the most of his life in England. Harty not only had a wide knowledge of Irish folksong but went so far as to invent his own tunes which bear considerable resemblance to “the originals”.

But he was not trying to make any point politically – it was merely a musical interest and statement.

I have always found myself to be in something of a similar position. I was brought up in East Belfast and educated in a very “establishment” Unionist/Protestant school.

But I no longer have any religious affiliation to Christianity – protestant or catholic – and I travel always on an Irish passport.

I support entirely the idea of diversity in society and I am against the marginalization of any views which are not necessarily the accepted norm or those of the majority.

As a gay man in Northern Ireland, I have always felt myself to be outside the accepted community view, the standard norm perhaps.

In “…while the sun shines…” I specifically use this idea of diversity in musical traditions to construct a piece around the memory of Sir Hamilton Harty. The programme note used for the first performance of the work in 2005 is appended further on.


Piano Music by Philip Hammond (Lorelt Label LNT134)

Articles and Books:

Contributer to “HAMILTON HARTY” Ed.David Greer Pub.Blackstaff 1979

Philip Flood

Contemporary Music

Philip Flood was born in Belfast and completed a a degree in music at Queen’s University.

In 1986 he moved to London, where he studied with Robert Saxton and Simon Emmerson.

Works have been commissioned by, among others, the Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music, the Cork International Choral Festival, the Cheltenham International Festival of Music and Music Network.

He has worked with many leading performers and ensembles, including Rolf Hind, Fine Arts Brass Ensemble, the BBC Singers, the Ulster Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland.

His music has been broadcast by the BBC, RTÉ and across Europe.

Much of his work has involved collaborating with dancers and choreographers, notably his work for Phoenix Dance Company, The Last Word.

He is also involved in a range of educational and collaborative projects and is a director of the Society for the Promotion of New Music.

Ian Wilson

Contemporary Music

Ian Wilson was born in Belfast and began composing while at university.

He has written nearly one hundred and fifty works, including chamber operas, concertos, string quartets, a range of orchestral and chamber music and multi-media pieces. His compositions have been performed and broadcast on six continents, and presented at festivals including the BBC Proms, Venice Biennale and Frankfurt Bookfair and at venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert and Wigmore Halls, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw, Vienna’s Musikverein and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall.

Wilson has in recent years also worked with jazz musicians, Asian tabla and Chinese pipa players and traditional Irish singers; he has also collaborated with choreographers, theatre directors and electroacoustic and computer music composers. In 1991, Running, Thinking, Finding received the composition prize at the Ultima festival in Oslo, and in 1992 he received the Macaulay Fellowship administered by the Arts Council of Ireland. In 1998 he was elected to Aosdána, Ireland’s State-sponsored body of creative artists and in recent years he has been AHRB Research Fellow at the University of Ulster, An Foras Feasa post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Dundalk Institute of Technology Composer-in-Association with California’s Camerata Pacifica ensemble and Associate Composer to the Ulster Orchestra. He was director of the Sligo New Music Festival from 2003 to 2011.

There are commercially-available recordings of nearly fifty of Wilson’s works on labels including Diatribe, Riverrun, Black Box, Timbre, Guild, Meridian and Chandos. His music is published by Ricordi (London) and Universal Edition.


“Sullen earth”, Riverrun Records RVRCD80 (August 2009). The Belgrade Strings, conducted by Ian Wilson, perform Sullen earth (2005, soloist Gordana Matijević-Nedeljković), Limena (1998, soloist Hugh Tinney) and The Capsizing Man and other stories (1994/97). Recorded in Kolarac Hall, Belgrade, Serbia 8th & 9th July 2007.

Artist’s Statement:

“Hardly any of my work responds to the Troubles. This was a conscious decision I made early on since, when one has grown up with that ongoing situation as a backdrop, the idea of raking over it again was something I was unwilling to do. Limena is an exception to this – as I was working on the piece, in Belgrade where I was living at the time, the Omagh bomb atrocity took place. At that time I had a friend who worked as a teacher in Omagh, so even at that geographical distance that latest in a long list of Northern Irish tragedies took on a more personal aspect. Therefore the middle of the work, which is the part I was about to start when I heard the news, became a lament for those who lost their lives, and for the Province in general.”


Johnson, Tim, “Out of Belfast and Belgrade: Ian Wilson’s Recent Music”, Tempo Vol. 57 No. 224, 2-9.

Russ, Michael, “Some observations on form-building processes in twentieth-century music: shaping time in Ian Wilson’s Rich Harbour: Concerto for Organ and orchestra” in G. Cox and A. Klein, eds, Irish Music in the Twentieth Century, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003, 109-133.

Eibhlís Farrell

Contemporary Music

Dr Eibhlís Farrell is Head of Music and Creative Media and Director of Ionad Taighde Ceoil, the Centre for Research in Music at Dundalk Institute of Technology.

A leading contemporary composer she is a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast, the University of Bristol and Rutgers University New Jersey, and studied composition with Raymond Warren and Charles Wuorinen.

Her output includes orchestral, vocal, chamber and opera and music theatre works. Her music has been widely performed and broadcast at home and internationally and has represented Ireland at the UNESCO International Composers’ Rostrum.

She is a member of AOSDÁNA, the state-sponsored Academy of Creative Artists which honours artists who have made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland, and has served on the Toscaireacht.

She is a Board Member of An Foras Feasa, the Institute for Research in Irish Historical and Cultural Traditions, a Research Partnership between Dundalk Institute of Technology, National University of Ireland Maynooth, St Patrick’s College Drumcondra and Dublin City University.

She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, a member of Council for Camerata Ireland and has served as a member of the Council of Heads of Music in Higher Education in Ireland.

In 2011 she was honoured by Rutgers University with the Distinguished Alumna Award 2011 for Distinguished Accomplishments and Service in the Humanities in Music and Music Education.

Her citation quoted her outstanding contribution to music both as composer and educator.

Previous positions include Head of the Conservatory of Music and Drama at Dublin Institute of Technology; Head of the School of Musicianship and Deputy Principal, College of Music, Dublin; and Music and Music Education Lecturer at St. Mary’s University College, Belfast.

Dr Farrell has also guest lectured in many institutions in Ireland, the UK and USA and has regularly contributed to international festivals and conferences.

She has been widely commissioned by many leading performers and organisations and has been guest composer at numerous prestigious events including the Anna Livia Opera Festival, the Tufts University/New England Conservatory of Music Summer School in Les Talloires, France,

West Wales Arts, Cork International Choral Festival, European Youth Parliament at St. Andrews, the National Concert Hall Composers’ Choice Series, RTÉ Music Today series, the International Festivals of Women in Music in Alaska, Vienna, Indiana and Fiuggi,

the Edinburgh Fringe, festivals in Monte Carlo, Madrid, Segovia and El Escorial, the Barbican, Malta, Latvia, the Sonorities Festival at Queen’s, and the American Irish Historical Society, New York.

She was a commissioned composer for the 2012 International Dublin Piano Competition with her work Gleann na Sídhe, performed at the NCH and broadcast on Lyric FM.

Dr Farrell has wide experience as an adjudicator and has served as Chair of the adjudication panel for the Clandeboye Young Musician competitions.

She has also adjudicated for the Bank of Ireland Catherine Judge Award, the Heiniken Violin Competition, National Chamber Choir Young Composers’ Competitions, the Feis Ceoil Composers’ competitions,

the International Masterprize for orchestral composition, the Undergraduate Awards of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the Maltese Human Rights Award.

She has served on the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Music and Opera Committee and also on many advisory panels for the Arts Council of Ireland.

Recently she has been a recipient of ACNI Artists’ Residency Bursary to the Banff Centre in Canada, and An Foras Feasa fellowship at La Muse Artists’ Centre in France.

Her teaching specialisms include postgraduate research supervision, composition, orchestration and arranging, theory and analysis, contemporary music and music education.

She is represented by the Contemporary Music Centre, Dublin from which her music is available.


BMus (Hons) Queen’s University Belfast, MMus (University of Bristol), PhD (Rutgers University), LLCM, FRSA, Member of Aosdána

Artist’s work in relation to the Troubles:

I have grown up in a small village in South Down, attended grammar school in Newry and did my undergraduate degree in QUB during the period of the Troubles.

Like everyone else during that period I was acutely aware of and felt deeply about the Troubles.

I have always been conscious of a desire in my writing to rise above and transcend the ugliness and brutality of war and this has very much influenced my philosophy as an artist.


Articles and references about Eibhlís Farrell’s work are also included in the following publications:

Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland (Boydell and White, UCD Press)

Directory of Irish Composers, CMC, Dublin,

New Grove Dictionary /New Grove Dictionary of Women in Music (Macmillan)

The Pandora Guide to Women in Music (Sophie Fuller, Thames and Hudson),

Donne in Musica (Patricia Chiti, Armando Editore, Rome),

The Popular Guide to Women in Classical Music (Anne Gray, Wordworld USA),

The World of Women in Classical Music Music (Anne Gray, Wordworld, USA),

Die Musik Irlands im 20. Jahrhundert (Axel Klein, Olms Hildesheim, Berlin),

Contemporary Vocal Technique (Jane Manning, OUP),

Kompanistinnen aus 800 Jahren (Oliver and Braun, Sequentia Verlag, Unna),

The Encyclopaedia of Ireland (Gill and MacMillan),

Musical Opinion (various reviews),

International League of Women Composers Journals,

Contemporary Music Centre News, Dublin.

David Byers

Contemporary Music

David Byers was the Manson Scholar in Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London 1968-72, winning many prizes for composition and organ.

The Macauley Fellowship from the Irish Arts Council in 1972 and a Belgian Government Scholarship then enabled him to study with Henri Pousseur at the Liège Conservatoire. In 1984 he was awarded an ARAM for his contribution to the music profession, and also appointed a member of the Irish Arts Council, An Chomhairle Ealaíon, for five years.

He was a Governor of the Royal Irish Academy of Music for over 20 years and has served on many boards and committees, including Wexford Festival Opera, the National Concert Hall, Dublin, the Ulster Youth Choir and the Irish Baroque Orchestra. He was a founding committee member of the Sonorities Festival.

After 25 years he retired from the BBC in 2002 as Chief Producer, Music and Arts, and was then appointed Chief Executive of the Ulster Orchestra, retiring in 2010. He continues to compose, write articles and programme notes, and prepare editions of music from earlier eras. His works cover many genres and have been performed and broadcast across Europe, in the USA and Australia.

Writings About David Byers

The Organ Works of David Byers, Donal Doherty, (MA, NUIM, 1992)
The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland, ed. Harry White and Barra Boydell, University College Dublin, 2013
The Encyclopedia of Ireland, ed Brian Lalor, Gill and Macmillan, Dublin, 2003
Beyond the Studio, Jonathan Bardon, Blackstaff Press, Belfast, 2000
Music in Northern Ireland since 1921, Roy Johnston, Chapter XXII, A New History of Ireland, Vol.VII, ed. J.R.Hill, Oxford University Press, 2003
Celebrating 80 Years of Music, (exhibition catalogue) BBC, Belfast, 2004
Open House, Peter Rosser, Journal of Music in Ireland, Vol.9 No.1, p.15, 2009

Conor Mitchell

Contemporary Music

Conor Mitchell is a musical dramatist, who trained with David Blake and Nicola LeFanu.

He has written 13 music-plays including The Dummy Tree (Cottesloe Theatre), Gepetto in Spring (Gotenberg, Sweden), Diary of a Madman (LAMDA, Drury Lane), The Musician (Cahoots NI), The Rosen Street Protest (NT Studio), Merry Christmas Betty Ford (Lyric Theatre), Goblin Market (NYMT), Pesach (Waterfront Hall) and others. He has written for the Ulster Youth Orchestra, twice been writer on attachment to the National Theatre, music adviser to YMT:UK and writer in residence at LAMDA. Awards include the Arts Foundation Fellowship Award for composition.

His cycle of contemporary popular song, Ten Plagues was premiered at the Royal Court Theatre by the singer Marc Almond and performed at the Traverse Theatre in 2011. He has worked on the opera cycle The Headless Soldier with the playwright Mark Ravenhill, as well as an oratorio for the London Gay Men’s Chorus and a new opera in London. His music-play The Doughboys premiered at the Belfast Festival in 2012.

Bill Campbell

Contemporary Music

Born in Belfast 1961, studied music at the University of Ulster Jordanstown gaining B.A and Master of philosophy degrees.

Won SPNM regional award 1990 and the Cornelius Cardew composition prize 1992 for his string quartet ‘ The snow leopard ‘ Studied with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies 1993 - 94.

He has composed music for soloists, ensembles and orchestras performed throughout the U.K, Ireland , Europe and beyond with many broadcasts on BBC, RTE and Slovenian national radio. Bill was appointed first composer in residence for Cavan county council 2001-2003. His CD during this period with the contemporary music group ‘Concorde’ and poet Dermot Healey was voted CD of the month by the Contemporary music centre of Ireland.

He has composed music for film , theatre, installations and story books as well as working as a professional arranger for Einstein studios ( N.I. )

He has received commissions from Cavan county council, Concorde, St Magnus festival. the Arts council of Northern Ireland, the BBC , The Ulster Orchestra, The Ulster Youth Orchestra, Kids in Control , Music at the Brewhouse.

For the last 20 so years Bill has worked as an educator and facilitator with many organizations and is still active with ‘The Pushkin prize’. He has been the guitar player with the Brian Irvine ensemble from 1992 - present Performing around the world.

Bill is currently residing in Northern Ireland where he is associate lecturer in music at the Belfast metropolitan college.

At least three of Bill Campbell’s works reflect the Troubles, with and without words. “Around 1995,” he writes, “there was much talk about what was being termed as the peace process. There seemed to be a lot of hysteria and I couldn’t help think that the victims had been forgotten in the midst of all of this. Of course the balance eventually shifted towards victims in the course of time. At that time I was commissioned to write a Piano Trio for the Barbican Piano Trio. I decided to use this troubled thought [of the forgotten victims] as an emotional core to the piece. In the closing section I evoked some ghostly wailing in the strings (which some listeners thought were emergency sirens) over which was an elegiac chordal pattern played by the piano.”

Kevin O’Connell

Contemporary Music

Born 1958 in Derry. Studied at St Columbs College and Trinity College Dublin. First teaching engagement was at St Marys College, Falls Road Belfast. Completed first major orchestral commission for the Ulster Orchestra in 1989 to mark tercentenary of Derry Siege.

Opera ‘The Fire King’ to libretto by John Goodby was premiered in Derry in 1995.
The Sonata for Cello and Piano was premiered by Raphael Wallfisch and John York in 1996.
The orchestral work North was commissioned by BBC radio 3 in 1997 and premiered in 1998.

I have never addressed the Troubles directly in my music. The subject is at once too big and too personal.

Instead, I have attempted to address themes connected to conflict anywhere. In From the Besieged City for mezzo-soprano and orchestra I set a poem by Zbigniew Herbert that addressed the subject of a siege as a kind of mental archetype: the siege inside the head.

My opera The Fireking treated the theme of conflict and reconciliation between the generations. For this work I stepped outside the exclusive area of modern classical music and wrote for amateur singers and actors.

My Cello Sonata quotes the ‘Lament for Limerick’ in the slow movement. This movement is an oblique reflection on the Shankill bombing and its aftermath.

North for orchestra is an abstract work that has no particular connection with any political or programmatic idea. More generally, I wanted to reflect on northernness as a geographical and cultural concept. The opening three notes of the work, for example, quote the opening notes of Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony. This sense of the north as a cultural and imaginative (rather than particular and political) terrain has persisted in my more recent work.


‘From inside my head: Issues of Identity in Northern Ireland through the music of Kevin O Connell’, Jennifer McCay, in ‘Music and Identity in Ireland and Beyond’, eds Mark Fitzgerald and John O’Flynn, Ashgate, 2014

‘From the Besieged City: the orchestral music of Kevin O’Connell’ PhD thesis by Jennifer McCay, UCD, 2014

‘The art music composer and the Northern Ireland Troubles’, MA Dissertation, David O Connell, Glasgow University, 2012

‘Unity in Kevin O’Connell’s divided North’ Jennifer McCay, The Musicology Review (UCD), Issue 7, 2011

Barry Kerr

Traditional Music

Originally from County Armagh but now living and working in Belfast, Barry Kerr is one of Ireland’s most accomplished traditional musicians.

As a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and painter he is extremely prolific in his creative output. Having recorded his first solo album at age seventeen he has gone on to tour the world both as a solo performer and in the company of artists such as Cara Dillon, Phil Coulter and At First Light. His songs and compositions have been recorded by the likes of karan Casey, Flook, Beoga, Brian Finnegan, Damian O’Kane and Kate Rusby.As a painter he is fast becoming an important figure in contemporary Irish Art,exhibiting at home and abroad to high critical acclaim.

“Growing up through The Troubles directly affected my outlook and subsequent artistic output to a great extent. It formed my opinions on social justice and equality. I expressed these opinions in my song compositions on numerous occasions.I was in turn drawn to artists who wrote about similar issues and this helped develop my own approach to songwriting.”
Barry Kerr

Fintan Vallely


Fintan Vallely is a flute-player and writer on Irish Music.

Tuned Out - Traditioanl Music and Identity in Northern Ireland. Cork University Press, 2008;

Big Guns and Hairy Drums (CD) 2003
Sign Up - Comc Songs and Satires of Modern Ireland. Dedalus Press 2008;

Eamon McElholm

Traditional Music

Eamon McElholm was born in Killyclogher, just outside Omagh in County Tyrone. He has worked with many acts and musicians including Stockton’s Wing, Solas, Cathal Hayden, Dezi Donnelly Cara Dillon, Finbar Furey, Brian Finnegan amongst others.

He has written music that has been recorded by many acts including Michael McGoldrick, Flook, Tamalin, Danish band Kasir, Solas and Stockton’s Wing. He worked with Stockton’s Wing as lead singer/guitarist and has been with American based band Solas.

He was awarded the PRS John Lennon Songwriting Award whilst a student at Salford University. He has performed all over the world including concerts in China, Japan, Brazil, Slovenia, all over Europe and extensively in America. He has written music for TV documentaries and has worked as a session musician on a number of film soundtracks. He has prodcued albums for others and plays a number of instruments, namely guitar, piano, cello, in addition to being an experienced vocalist.

Jez Lowe

Traditional Music

Jez Lowe is a singer-songwriter from County Durham, who tours internationally and whose songs have been covereed by the likes of Mary Black, Fairport Convention, The Dubliners, The Tannahill Weavers, Cherish The Ladies, Gordon Bok, The McCalmans, The Black Brothers, Liam Clancy, Bob Fox and literally hundreds of others.

In 2008, Jez was nominated as “Folksinger of the Year” in the BBC Folk awards, and was the 2009 winner of the Indie-Acoustic Award for “Best Lyrics”. Back in 2006 Jez was one of the principle songwriters in the award-winning BBC series The Radio Ballads. In all, he has so far written almost forty songs over the last five years for the Radio Ballads series, many of which such as “Taking On Men” and “The Miami” have already become widely-sung folk classics, and Jez has developed a special concert performance that includes a varying selection of these songs, under the title of “The Muse MacColl”, referencing the instigator of the Radio Ballads format, Ewan MacColl.

The Radio Ballads series, along with other much-acclaimed special commissions like The Darwin Project and All Along The Wall, has enabled Jez to expand his writing and performing styles greatly in recent years, without diverging from his own much admired and unique approach to his craft.

“My only visit to Northern Ireland during the Troubles was in 1977, en route to a music festival in County Clare via the Stranraer-Larne ferry. Driving through Belfast, what struck me most of all was its similarity to the cities of Northern England, but with the effects of the Troubles very plain to see. My own family were from Southern Ireland, but my grandparents had always made us aware of the conflicts and reason behind them.

In 2005, the BBC asked me to write songs for their new Radio Ballads series, based on the format instigated by Ewan MacColl in the late 1950’s. It was for one of these programmes, THIRTY YEARS OF CONFLICT, that I wrote THE MIAMI and DEAR MR.BOMBER. It was a bitter-sweet undertaking for me. I can vividly remember the tragedy that befell the Miami Showband, because a member of my own band in those days had recently seen the Miami group doing a show in Liverpool when the incident occured. The humour I tried to inject into DEAR MR.BOMBER came from the interviewee in the BBC programme itself, who somehow managed to see the irony in what had happened to him. I have visited Northern Ireland more in recent years and always had a fine time among fine people.”

Jez Lowe

“One of the folkscene’s great unsung heroes.”

“A profoundly impressive new album. Lowe has earned the right to be counted among England’s finest contemporary songwriters.”

“An excellent matching of old and new”

“The best songwriter to come out of England in a long time”

“the work of a songwriter at the top of his game”

Selected Recordings

Jez Lowe

The Ballad Beyond (2014)

Heads Up: 18 Essential Jez Lowe Songs (2012)

Jack Common’s Anthem (2007)

Back Shift: a collection of songs from 1980 to 1986 (1992)

Bad Penny (1988)

Galloways Fellside FE 049 (1985)

The Old Durham Road Fellside FE 034 (1983)

Jez Lowe Fellside FE 023 (1980)

Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies

Wotcheor! (2010)

Northern Echoes: Live on the Tyne (2008) (two discs – CD live Feb. 2008; DVD live Nov. 2007)

Tantobie Twinset – The Parish Notices + Honesty Box (2007)

Doolally (2004)

Honesty Box (2002)

Live at the Davy Lamp (2000)

The Parish Notices (1998)

Tenterhooks (1995)

Bede Weeps (1993)

Briefly on the Street (1990)

Eoin McNamee


Eoin McNamee was born in Kilkeel, County Down, in 1961. He was educated in various schools in the North of Ireland and at Trinity College, Dublin. He has lived in Dublin, London and New York. He also writes under the name ‘John Creed’.

He has written novels based around historic events of the last half century. These have ranged from Resurrection Man, which examined the killings of the UVF gang the Shankill Butchers through to Orchid Blue, which was based on the events surrounding the last hanging in Ireland, of Robert McGladdery at Crumlin Road Gaol in 1961. He also wrote the screenplay for the film version of Resurrection Man, directed by Michael Winterbottom in 1998.

Apart from these novels he has written several series of novels for young adults as well as a series of espionage thrillers under the name of John Creed.

He was awarded the Macauley Fellowship for Irish Literature in 1990.

The Last of Deeds, (Raven Arts Press 1989),which was shortlisted for the 1989 Irish Times/Aer Lingus Award for Irish Literature
The last of Deeds and Love in History (Penguin 1992 and Picador 1995)

Resurrection Man (Picador 1994), finalist for the 1996 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction
The Blue Tango (Faber & Faber 2001)
The Ultras (Faber & Faber 2004)
12:23: Paris, 31 August 1997 (Faber & Faber 2007).
Orchid Blue (Faber and Faber 2010)
Blue is the Night (Faber and Faber 2014)

Young Adults Fiction
The Navigator (HarperCollins Children’s Books 2006)
The City of Time (HarperCollins Children’s Books 2008)
The Frost Child (Yearling Books 2010)
The Ring of Five (Quercus 2010)
The Unknown Spy (Quercus 2011)
The Ghost Roads (Quercus 2012)

Writing as John Creed
The Sirius Crossing (Faber & Faber 2003)
The Day of the Dead (Faber & Faber 2004)
Black Cat, Black Dog (Faber & Faber 2007)

Film Scripts
Resurrection Man (1998, Directed by Michael Winterbottom)
I Want You (1998, Directed by Michael Winterbottom)
An Bronntanas (2014, Directed by Tom Collins)

Ronan Bennett


Ronan Bennett was born on 14 January 1956 in Belfast, Ireland.

He was acquitted on appeal after a conviction for murder in 1974 but during his time in prison witnessed the burning of Long Kesh prison by republican prisoners and has described this in detail in radio talks.

He was educated at King’s College, London, and was a research fellow at the Institute of Historical Research in London from 1986-7.

His first novel, The Second Prison (1991), a thriller about a member of a group of Irish republican activists, was shortlisted for the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for First Book. His second novel, Overthrown by Strangers (1992), is set in Latin America. The Catastrophist (1997), the story of an Irish journalist working in the Belgian Congo in the 1950s, won the Irish Post Literature Award and the Belfast Arts Award for Literature and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award. Havoc, in its Third Year (2004), is an historical novel set in 17th-century England. It won the 2004 Hughes & Hughes/Irish Independent Irish Novel of the Year.
Zugzwang (2007), was published in serial installments in The Observer over seven months in 2006.

The author has also written screenplays for film and television, including “Face”, starring Robert Carlyle and Ray Winstone, “Love Lies Bleeding”, starring Mark Rylance, and “Public Enemies” starring Christian Bale and Jonny Depp.

Ronan Bennett is a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Observer.

From an online interview
“I’m Irish and I’m a writer. But beyond that unexceptional and very unhelpful statement, I don’t really know what it means. I would say that my preoccupations as a novelist are intrinsically linked to my upbringing in Belfast during the Troubles - and perhaps the most prominent of these preoccupations is this dilemma: what does the just man/woman do in times of injustice? This question recurs in The Catastrophist, Havoc, in its Third Year, and Zugzwang. It’s the question St Paul asked: what do we do? I think my interest in this question can be traced back to the Belfast of the Troubles, when people had to make their choices. But I don’t live in Ireland any more; I have spent half my life in London. I remain fascinated by Ireland, but the world is a big, big place. There are other stories, and I have no interest in writing about priests.”

Stolen Years: Before and After Guildford (with Paul Hill), Doubleday, 1990
The Second Prison, Hamish Hamilton, 1991
Overthrown by Strangers, Hamish Hamilton, 1992
Double Jeopardy: the Retrial of the Guildford Four, Penguin, 1993
The Catastrophist, Review, 1997
Havoc, in its Third Year, Bloomsbury, 2004
William Harvey and the Human Heart, James Bennett Pty Ltd., 2004
Zugzwang, Bloomsbury, 2007

1991 Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for First Book (shortlist) The Second Prison
1998 Belfast Arts Award for Literature The Catastrophist
1998 Irish Post Literature Award The Catastrophist
1998 Whitbread Novel Award (shortlist) The Catastrophist
2005 Hughes & Hughes/Irish Independent Irish Novel of the Year Havoc, in its Third Year
2006 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (shortlist) Havoc, in its Third Year
2008 Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year (shortlist) Zugzwang

Brian Ferran

Visual Arts

Brian Ferran trained as an art teacher and taught from 1963-66. He obtained an honours degree in Art History from the Courtauld Institute and in 1970-71, on receipt of a Leverhulme European Scholarship, spent a year at the Brera Academy of Fine Art in Milan.

In 1966 he joined the staff of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, becoming Chief Executive in the early 1990s. During 1980, he was the Commissioner for Northern Ireland at the Paris Biennale and in 1985 was the Ireland Commissioner at the Sao Paulo Bienal in Brazil. Ferran has won many awards and had numerous solo exhibitions in Ireland, Mexico, Switzerland and in the USA. His work draws upon Irish mythology and Irish political history.

Selected Collections:
An Chomhairle Ealaíon; Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Crawford Municipal Art Gallery; Donegal County Council; Wexford County Council; Ulster Museum; National Self-Portrait Gallery; Derry City Council; Belfast Education and Library Board; First Trust Bank; Northern Bank; Allied Irish Bank; Institute of Public Administration, Northern Ireland; Dept of the Environment; Office of Public Works; Irish Contemporary Art Society; North-West Arts Trust; Ulster Arts Club; Irish American Cultural Institute; Dermot Desmond; Vincent & Noeleen Ferguson; Gordon Lambert; George & Maura Mc Clelland Collection; University of Ulster; Queen’s University, Belfast; University College, Cork; St. Mary’s University College, Belfast; Stranmillis College; Boston College; Fergus Falls Community College, Minnesota; Fordham University and St. John Fisher College, New York.

In the last 20 years the political upheaval in the North has been inescapable, in fact a dominant reality; and while Ferran does not preach or posture he is plainly a man with a social conscience. Like the Northern Irish poets, he would seem to prefer an oblique approach when responding to tragic events in his own community.

(Brian Fallon on Brian Ferran, 1993)

Selected Writings about Brian Ferran:
1980 Making Sense of Ulster, Art and Artists Magazine
A Concise History of Irish Art, Thames and Hudson, London
1979 Irish Art from 1600, Anne Crookshank, published by Department of
Foreign Affairs, Dublin
1980 Mother Ireland and the Troubles, Circa Art Magazine
Artist, Model and Reality, Belinda Loftus
1982 The Arts in Ireland, Chronology by Christopher Fitz-simon, Gill and MacMillan

Joseph McWilliams

Visual Arts

Belfast painter, Joseph Mc Williams was educated in the Belfast College of Art and the Open University.

He was Senior Lecturer and Senior Course Tutor at the University of Ulster. He was President of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts.from 2000-2004. He and his painter wife Catherine are directors of The Cavehill Gallery, Belfast.

Mc Williams’ work has been exhibited in Ireland, Britain, Europe and the USA. He is represented in numerous collections, including: the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Ulster, the Ulster Museum, Coras Iompair Eireann, the Northern Ireland Civil Service Collection, AIB.Collection, and the National Self-Portrait Collection.

Mc Williams is a regular lecturer and Broadcaster on the Visual Arts in Northern Ireland and has been invited to speak on a number of occasions in Boston, USA and at the James Joyce School in Trieste and in Ljubljana Slovenia.

He is perhaps best known for his paintings of “The Troubles” evidenced in exhibitions such as, “Art for Society” Whitechapel Gallery London, “Documenta 6” Kassel,W. Germany, “A Troubled Journey 1966-1989” and “Colour on the March” both at the Cavehill Gallery Belfast.

“In 1969 when the North finally and inevitably exploded into violence, painting seemed a singularly inappropriate exercise. I remember one night at home working on a landscape while listening to gunfire from nearby Ardoyne and thinking what a ludicrous thing to be doing in the midst of communal madness. So I reacted simply and safely in paint.”
Joseph McWilliams, ‘A Troubled Journey’, 1989

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

1997 Colour on the March, Cavehill Gallery, Belfast

1989 A Troubled Journey 1966-1989, Cavehill Gallery

1982 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast

1980 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast

1977 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Dublin

1974 Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast

Selected Group Exhibitions:

2013 Christmas Exhibition at Cavehill Gallery

2013 Royal Ulster Academy Exhibition at Ulster Museum

2011 Tears in Rain/Dheora san Fhearthainn: Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art. Golden Thread Gallery Belfast

2010 129th Royal Ulster Academy at the Ulster Museum

2010 Boyle Arts Festival, Co. Roscommon

2009 Tom Caldwell Gallery, 40th Anniversary

2009 Honet Seems Bitter, Strule Arts Centre, Omagh

Royal Ulster Academy

2008 “Innislacken; A place Apart” Galway Arts Centre

2007 “A Northern Light” The Kenny Gallery, Galway Arts Festival.

2006 Boyle , Festival, Boyle Co. Roscommon

2006 Northern Prepositions, An Gailerai, Falcarragh Co. Donegal

2005 The Nude Emer Gallery, Belfast

2002 The Public Eye 50 years of the Arts Council Collection

Ormeau Baths Gallery Belfast and the Context Gallery Derry.

2002 The Public Eye Political works from the Arts Council Collection

2001 Sidebyside, Nashville & Belfast.

2000 Basil Blackshaw & Friends, Boyle Arts Festival.

1997-98 Dreams and Traditions; 300 years of British and Irish painting from Ulster Museum Collection touring USA in conjunction with Smithsonian Institute, Washington.

1996—2005 Royal Ulster Academy

1994 Hunting Prizes Exhibition, RCA, London & Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea

1992 Royal Hibernian Academy

1988 Independent Artists against Repression, Dublin/Belfast

1988 Commissioned print Housing Executive, Belfast

1982 Contemporary Irish Painters, Northeastern University, Boston, USA

1978 Art for Society, Whitechapel Gallery, London

1977 Documenta 6, Kassel, W.Germany (with Joseph Beuys’ Free International University

1969 Irish Living Art, Dublin, Cork, Belfast

1966 Cuimhneachan 1916, Municipal Gallery, Dublin

Awards and Commissions:

2003 Awarded Gold Medal Royal Ulster Academy of Arts.

1996/90/89 Commissioned by the Blackstaff Press: Book covers

1995/1989 Award Arts Council of Northern Ireland

1995 Commissioned by Observer Newspaper:Belfast Festival at Queen’s painting

1994 Awarded Belfast Newsletter Prize for Painting at RUA

1995 Awarded Silver Medal RUA

1982 An Chomhairle Ealaion Travel Award to Boston USA

1964 Commissioned Mural 50ft x 60ft Church of St. Mary’s, Aghagallon, Co. Antrim

Selected Writings About Joseph McWilliams:

2000 RUA Diploma Collection, by Martin Anglesea, RUA Trust Ltd.

1997-98 Dreams & Traditions,300years of British and Irish Painting, Ulster Museum.

1999 “Colour on the March” Joseph Mc Williams. Essay; “A Mirror to his World. Dr. S. B. Kennedy.

1996 Thinking Long, by Liam Kelly, Gandon Press

1999 Genius of Ulster, Country Life, by James Knox

1989 Irishe Kunstler und der Nordirland-Konflikt; Metarbeit Robert Green for NDR German TV

1989 Joseph McWilliams – A Troubled Journey 1996-1989, Cavehill Gallery, Belfast

1982 Irish Style Elusive in a post-modernist world, by Robert Taylor, Boston Globe

1982 The Artist and the Troubles, article Seamus Deane, Field Day pamphlet

1977 Art in Ulster 2 by Mike Catto, Blackstaff Press


Ulster Museum

Arts Council of Northern Ireland

University of Ulster

Queen’s University, Belfast

Coras Iompar Éireann

Department of the Environment (NI)

National Self-Portrait Collection

AIB Collection Dublin

Civic Collection Boyle, Co. Roscommon

FE McWilliam

Visual Art

F.E. McWilliam is an artist of international distinction. The son of a doctor, he was educated at Campbell College, Belfast and began his studies at the Belfast School of Art in 1926.

In 1928 he went to the Slade School in London where he studied with Henry Tonks and was a contemporary of John Luke. He won a scholarship to Paris and after that lived in London. In 1938 McWilliam exhibited with the British Surrealist Group and held his first one-man-show at the London Gallery in 1939. In 1940 he joined the Royal Air Force and served for 5 years. From 1946-1968 McWilliam taught at the Slade School. Many of his sculptures were commissioned for public places, for example, a large work for the Festival of Britain Exhibition (1951) at the South Bank Centre, London and Princess Macha for the Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry (1957).

In 1981 the Arts Councils in Ireland organised an exhibition of his work which toured throughout Ireland and in 1989 the Tate Gallery, London held a major retrospective of his work. McWilliam’s varied body of work is characterised by a love of the visual and verbal joke although his ‘Women of Belfast’ series depicting women caught in a bomb blast demonstrates his engagement with life in Belfast during the 70s.

The ‘Women of Belfast’ (1972) series documents the violent outbreak of the Troubles with jagged, roughly textured bronze sculptures. Here women are caught in dishevelment: flung by the force of a bomb blast, their legs flail and their faces bear the imprint of screams of protest.

“The images that FE McWiliam forged out of the Northern Ireland conflict are expressive. The shock-waves emanating from Belfast established links of compassion and involvement. For me the poignancy of that expression is that it is twofold; the women are victims of a storm of hatred; the artist was born in the country where the storm arose…The art historian Bernard Berenson noticed that in Northern European Art, emotional expression tended to be conveyed more successfully when it involved the action of the total figure, as in some of the work of Durer and Grunewald. Similarly FE McWilliam’s figures communicate because all the body is involved - extended hands, splayed legs, are in this sense more vocal than faces. Indeed in many instances the heads of the figures are hidden, buried in clothing. Equally the clothing is shamelessly stripped back to reveal the taut muscles of buttock and thigh: the figures have sacrificed any quality of seduction that normally partial nudity would impart; their predicament dehumanises them, they become the poignant contradiction of W B Yeats ‘engines of delight’.”

TP Flanagan on FE McWilliam

Selected Solo Exhibitions:
1939 London Gallery, London
1949,1952, 1956 Hanover Gallery, London
1958 West of England Academy, Bristol (retrospective)
1960 Queens University Belfast
1961, 1963, 1966, 1968,1971, 1973, 1975, 1979 Waddington Galleries, London
1963 Felix Landeau Gallery, Los Angeles
1969 Travers Gallery, London
1973 Dawson Gallery, Dublin
McClelland International Gallery, Belfast
1977 Bell Gallery, Belfast
1980 Taylor Gallery, Dublin
1981 Arts Council Northern Ireland (retrospective)
1989 Tate Gallery (retrospective)

Selected Public Collections:
Tate Gallery, London
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Irish Museum of Modern Art
Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane
Ulster Museum
Banbridge District Council

Selected Writings About F.E. McWilliam:
Paul Nash, FE McWilliam, London Bulletin, 1939
A.T Broadbent, Sculpture Today, 1944
Eric Newton, British Scultpure, 1947
Patric Heron ‘London Arts’, May 1956, New York
DR J.P Hodin, ‘Art Journal’ XXV 2, New York 1966
Interview with Harriet Cooke, The Irish Times, 31 October 1973
W.J Strachan The Sculptor and his Drawings, The Connoisseur, 1976
W.J Strachan Towards Sculpture, Thames& Hudson, 1974
John Sexton, F.E.McWilliam, The Arts Review Vol XXIII N.o 1
Mike Catto, Art in Ulster Vol II

Northern Ireland Screen


Formerly the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission (NIFTC) and renamed to reflect and embrace the growth of the digital era, Northern Ireland Screen is the national screen agency for Northern Ireland whose aim is to accelerate the development of a dynamic and sustainable screen industry in Northern Ireland.
Our mission is to promote Northern Ireland as a major production location, to celebrate Northern Ireland product, talent and culture to the world and to ensure that a range of learning opportunities are delivered, so that growing numbers of people in Northern Ireland are motivated to enjoy, understand and explore the moving image
Northern Ireland Screen aims to encourage and support a vibrant screen industry and related screen culture in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive contains 65 hours of moving images of Northern Ireland from 1897 to 2000. There are images covering drama, animation, documentaries, news, newsreels, amateur and actuality film.

Amongst these items are a number of film images that relate to the Troubles, including feature length films, t.v. dramas, news items, documentaries and amateur footage.

Shanks Leighton Kennedy and Fitzgerald


Shanks Leighton Kennedy FitzGerald was formed by Donald Shanks and Edwin Leighton in 1960, joined by Jim Kennedy in 1964 and by Joe FitzGerald in 1965. The firm was responsible for the design of many significant buildings in Northern Ireland during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, not least designs for a number of schools including Victoria College, Belfast (1972), Portadown New Technical College (1973) and the Model School, Enniskillen (1976). The firm’s work has been praised for its ‘vigorous approach to design – born of a deep admiration for the structural forms and Breton-brut finishes of late Le Corbusier – which saw the partnership forge a robust and boldly expressive style’.

Northern Ireland Housing Executive


The Northern Ireland Housing Executive was established in 1971 and became the largest housing authority in Western Europe. It grew out of civil unrest and was the result of thoroughgoing reform of housing administration and local government so that all housing stock held by local government and development agencies was transferred to the Executive. The new body recruited its own architects, engineers and quantity surveyors as well as housing and administrative staff (totaling 2,800 employees by 1973). Set up by legislation, it was charged with providing a fair and equitable housing system as well as improving housing conditions. The Executive inherited some of the worst housing conditions in Europe at the time; which, as a former Chairman, Sir Charles Brett, noted, was all the more shocking since a century before housing conditions in Belfast and Derry had paradoxically been the best in the British Isles (Housing a Divided Community, p.16).

Building Design Partnership


Building Design Partnership, founded in 1961, is Europe’s largest interdisciplinary architectural/design/engineering/urbanism practice, working across many sectors, including education, retail, offices, industry, health care, housing, culture and leisure, and transport and infrastructure. BDP operates 11 offices across the UK and Ireland, with associated offices across Europe. BDP has a long-established office in Belfast which operated in the city throughout the period of the Troubles to the present; one of its earliest large-scale projects in Northern Ireland was the distinguished Northern Bank headquarters in Donegall Square West of 1970.

‘Castlecourt to go ahead’, Ulster Architect May 1985
‘Castlecourt Heralds a New Retail Era’, Specify, April 1990
‘Castle Court and the Minister’s Lights’, Ulster Architect, 6 (10), May/June 1990
‘RIAI regional awards1991’, Contemporary Irish Architecture, 1990
‘Big in Belfast’, Architects’ Journal, 190 (18), November 1989

Anthony Davies

Visual Arts

Davies was born in Andover, Hampshire in 1947 and attended both the Manchester School of Art and the Royal College of Art. He was awarded the Prix de Rome having been a fellow of the British School in Rome.

Anthony Davies worked largely in print based media and is well known for his Wasteland Series. He has worked on a number of urban themes infused with a strong sense of social conscience and awareness.
Examples of his work are held by several public collections both in the UK and overseas. His work shows many aspects of the troubles amongst other subject matter. Whilst some of the black and white prints present stark views of Northern Ireland the coloured ones seem to present the stereotypical figures of youths in various street scenes and have a dark humorous aspect to them. They are never comfortable viewing however.

The images shine a spotlight on types of individuals and events rather than depicting one actual scene.

Davies spent time living and working in Derry and drew on what he had seen there for a range of works. He set up his own print workshop in 1986 following a printmaking Fellowship at the Royal College of Art and was artist in residence at the Foyle Arts Centre in Derry in 1987. He studied at Winchester School of Art from 1966-70, the Royal College of Art form 1970-73 and the British School at Rome 1973-75. He taught in a number of colleges in the UK before coming to Northern Ireland in 1984 to teach printmaking at the University of Ulster. He has taught in several institutions throughout the UK including the Art College at the University of Ulster. His work features in a number of public collections including the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council.

Since 2007 he has lived and worked in New Zealand.

His exhibition history includes: Ten Years After 1997-2007, Lopdell House Gallery, Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand, 2009, Albania, Tirana, National Gallery 1996, Croatia, Osijek, Galerija Likovbih Umjetnosti, 1996; Jamaica, Kingston, National Gallery of Jamaica 1993, Barbados, St Michael Barbados Museum and Historical Society, 1992; Barbados St Michael, Central Bank Gallery, 1992; The Wolsey Art Gallery in Ipswich. Orchard Gallery and Derry City Council Touring exhibition, 21 March-3rd May, 1992, Cornerhouse, Manchester, ‘A line of Country, Three artists from Northern Ireland,’ 1987; he has also had solo shows at the Compass Gallery in Glasgow and the Bluecoat Gallery in Liverpool.

Graham Gingles

Visual Arts

At first a painter, in 1969 he moved to mixed media boxed constructions where he combined drawings, paintings, sculptures and photographs.

He is now well known for his constructed boxes and he has linked their creation in part to the troubles. The narratives within the boxes have taken a wide variety of forms. Gingles has exhibited his work extensively. In 1980 he was awarded the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Scholarship to the British School at Rome and in 1988 he received the Gold Medal at the Royal Ulster Academy exhibition. His first one-person exhibition took place at the Arts Council gallery in Belfast after his return from Rome in 1981. Since then he has had numerous exhibitions of his boxes, paintings and drawings throughout Ireland and his works have been included in some major thematic group exhibitions introducing contemporary Irish art at home and internationally.

His exhibition history includes solo shows in the Hendriks gallery, Dublin 1982, Fenderesky Gallery 1986-88-91-96 and 2000, Narrow Water Gallery 1992, Butler gallery, Kilkenny 1994, and the James Baird Gallery, St. Johns, Newfoundland 1999. Group shows include Contemporary Irish Drawing, Hull Fleming Museum, Vermont, USA 1982, New Works by Past Prize Winners, EV&A, Dublin and Belfast 1983, Directions Out, Douglas Hyde gallery, Dublin 1986, Art Advice opening exhibition, New York 1988, Parable Island, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool 1991, Ulster Art in the 80s’, Gallagher gallery, Dublin 1988, Art Cologne, Germany 1990/93/95, Innovation from Tradition, Brussels 1996, Troubled, an exhibition of Northern Irish Art, Pitshanger Gallery, London 2000.

More recent exhibitions have included the 14-18 Now exhibition ‘At Times Like These Men Were Wishing They Were Insects’ at theMAC in Belfast, which scales up the Princess Mary Box – the brass embossed boxes which were filled with gifts and sent to the front during World War One – to room size in the Sunken Gallery of The Mac.

Writings about Graham Gingles:

Art in Ulster Vol 2 (1978) by Mike Catto.
Art, Politics and Ireland (1990) by Brian McAvera.
Graham Gingles catalogue (1991), the Fenderesky Gallery.

Men of No Property

Traditional Music

A group of radical songwriters in Belfast got together (under false names) to record a classic set of albums as ‘The Men Of No Property’, including such classics as ‘The Bogside Man’ (a parody of the shanty ‘The Hogseye Man’), ‘Hughes’s Bakery Van’ and ‘England’s Vietnam’.

The name “The Men of No Property” is taken from a statement made by Wolfe Tone who is considered the father of Irish Republicanism: “If the men of property will not support us, they must fall. Our strength shall come from that great respectable class, the men of no property.” In the long history of the Irish Civil War, this album gathers only a small, yet important sampling of folksongs detailing the hardships and historical events that occurred. Liner notes include information about each song and lyrics.

Members of the group included the singer / songwriter Brian Moore, who was also a political cartoonist (under the pseudonym ‘Cormac’) for Republican News/An Phoblacht

Colum Sands

Traditional Music

Colum Sands has performed in over thirty countries around the world, confirming the universal appeal for the songs and stories with which he observes the minute and often humorous details of life.

A member of the internationally renowned Sands Family from County Down, Colum established his reputation as a songwriter with the release of his first solo album, Unapproved Road in 1981. Songs like Whatever you say, say nothing, and Almost every Circumstance were soon in the repertoire of artists from Billy Connolly to Maddy Prior and June Tabor.

His second album The March Ditch inspired a special BBC television documentary and songs like The Man with the Cap and Looking the loan of a Spade confirmed his unique ability to observe locally and appeal universally.

On his travels around the world he soon discovered that many of his songs had arrived before him, carried by other singers and in recordings by fellow performers like Andy Irvine, Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, Roy Bailey, Mick Hanley, Gerard van Maasakkers, Rosemary Woods, Iain Mc Intosh and Enda Kenny.

In 1996 Colum released his third album, All My Winding Journeys, a musical voyage ranging from traditional songs like Jackson Johnson, learned from the singing of his father to originals like The Night is Young, Directions and the title track, his translation to Engish of a Goethe poem on which he was joined by Berlin songstress Scarlett Seeboldt.

In 2000, his first book, “Between the Earth and the Sky” was published and its pages, like Colum’s stage performances, contain a combination of songs and stories which, to quote one critic, “…view the world with balanced, non tribalistic humanity, breaking down all kinds of barriers and leaving behind an optimism and appreciation of the power of the human spirit over adversity.” The book is beautifully illustrated by watercolorist Colum Mc Evoy.

In March 2001 Colum joined Middle Eastern storyteller Sharon Aviv for a tour of Israel and a concert in that country’s first integrated school and village for Jews and Arabs, Neve Shalom. This concert inspired the song The Child who asks you why and Going Down to the Well with Maggie, just two of the songs which appeared on a unique collection of songs and stories, Talking to the Wall, released by Colum and Sharon in 2002.

Colum noted that people in Belfast were asking him if he wasn’t afraid to go to Israel with all the trouble going on over there and then, that people in Israel inquired if he wasn’t afraid to go back to Belfast with all the trouble over there…In response to these and many other questions in each place as to what exactly the problem was, he put pen to paper to record his thoughts on the complexity and yet the simplicity of it all. The result, Skipping History Lesson, was a one-minute summary of human conflict and appeared on his 2003 album The Note that lingers on along with songs of love and life like The Wake Song, Sweeney the Fiddler, Song for Adam and Eve and a live version of Mickey MacConnell’s classic Politician’s Song.

The inclusion of a live track was in response to many requests for a live album and in 2007 the live songs were complemented by the stories which are so much a part of Colum’s performances with the release of Colum Sands Live In Concert, recorded at Clotworthy House in County Antrim. Colum was also appearing in venues much further from home around this time, in 2006 his first concert tour of Australia and New Zealand was a huge success and was followed by a further visits in 2007 and 2009 with appearances at all the major festivals and in venues from Tasmania to Mount Isa.

The endless range of veunes around the world inspired the title track of Colum’s seventh album, Look where I’ve ended up now, released in 2009. From songs inspired by Bedouin activist Nuri Al Okbi (Song for Nuri) to songs from around his own front door in Rostrevor like Beyond the Frame , the album is a wonderful travelogue of people and places encountered by the County Down troubador.

His meetings with fellow musicians like Sinead Stone and Gerard Farrelly from Dublin provided the story which led to Michael’s Orchard while an unlikely encounter with a pair of old boots in New Zealand resulted in Fred Jordan’s Boots in praise of their former owner, English folksinger Fred Jordan. Meetings on the road with Scottish Gaelic singer Maggie MacInnes lead to another fascinating project and a new album released in 2010, The Seedboat, investigating musical and linguistic links between Ireland and Scotland. Following performances on each side of the water that divides the two countries, Colum and Maggie released their bi-lingual album The Seedboat (Bàta an t-Sìl) at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2010.

Between touring and recording, countless other performers have been introduced to the air waves through Colum’s work as a presenter of BBC Radio Ulster’s Folk club programme, he has also broadcast a series of programmes for BBC Radio 2 and has compiled and presented a series RTE Radio called “Rootin About’.

In May 2012 he presented the highly acclaimed BBC Radio 4 documentary, The First LP in Ireland, tracing the work of early folk collectors in Ireland.

His work in radio and studio production earned him the Living Tradition Award for services to Folk and Traditional Music. Colum has also produced countless albums for traditional singers and songwriters, he also produced four tracks on the Sound Neighbours CD released by the Smithsonian Institute in Washingtom, an album which was short listed for a Grammy Nomination.

“…Colum’s gift is of breaking down cultural barriers through choice words and eloquent music… “
John O’Reagan, Rock ‘n’ Reel

“…a marvelous tongue in cheek sense of humour, Colum Sands is a very talented songwriter with an ear for tuneful melodies and an ability with words which enables him to come up with some wonderful lyrics…”
Ivan Martin, Sunday World

“…a wonderful evening of entertainment. A natural witty storyteller, Colum charmed the audience with his lively and evocative melodies, colloquial lyrics and gentle humorous tales of everyday life in the past and present. Not only that, but the man has a wonderful voice and is no mean guitar picker…”
Jim Brough, Folk on tap

Tommy Sands

Traditional Music

Tommy Sands is a Co Down singer, songwriter and social activist. He was born in Mayobridge, County Down, just outside of Newry in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains.

His family was immersed in folk music - his father played the fiddle and his mother the accordion. During the ‘60s and ‘70s he was the chief songwriter with the Sands Family, a group including brothers Colum, Ben and the late Dino Sands, and sister Anne.

Sands has also continued to pave new ground as a solo singer/songwriter and as the host of a popular radio show, Country Ceili, broadcast weekly via Belfast’s Downtown Radio since 1976.

Although constantly performing on stages all around the world he prides in taking his music down from the lights and into the darker corners of society. One of his projects, teaching under-privledged prisoners in Reno, Nevada to write their own song with which to defend themselves in court is currently creating a widespread stir in the world of community art in the United States.

During the Good Friday Agreement Talks, his impromptu performance with a group of children and Lambeg drummers was described by Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon as ‘a defining moment in the Peace Process’.

In May 2002 Tommy Sands received an honourary doctorate of Letters from The University of Nevada for his outstanding work as musician and ambassador for peace and understanding and, May 18th was pronounced Tommy Sands Day in Reno. In December 2002 although the Northern Ireland Assembly had been stood down, Sands managed to persuade the Members to return for a special Christmas musical party together. The concert was recorded for the Sands weekly radio programme, Country Ceili, and later received a special award at the World Festival of TV and Radio in New York.

“I grew up in a small farmhouse near Mayobridge, in a ‘mixed neighbourhood’ to where people came ‘on their ceili’ to pass the evenings after working in the fields and, into a family that played music and sang songs. From my parents and neighbours I learned songs that I felt sang the unwritten history of ordinary people. I learned songs about emigration and songs of the Troubles from both sides. There were songs about working in flax dams, selling cattle at fairs, hunting for rabbits in whin bushes… ordinary every day events which when sung once were remembered always.
And there were ones too about pretty fair maids in the month of May or even June but in my growing it was becoming July and August and pretty fair maids were amongst those being maimed or killed. And so I wrote about such events not as a political song writer but as a neighbour standing by with little else to offer but a song.
After awhile I realised that some of these songs like There were Roses Daughters and Sons etc which were aimed initially at local people around me were being translated and sung in many other countries. It made me realise that not only has the local song a universality but it can also contribute, not just as an observatorial thermometer but as a thermostat, to help aid the temperature of the times at home and abroad”.
Tommy Sands

“Tommy Sands is one of the most important songwriters in Ireland if not the rest of the world….”
Sing Out!

“There Were Roses” is certainly one of the best songs ever written about the “Irish Problem…”
‘To Beat The Drum’ (Scotland)

“Timeless Sands, still with irresistible lure.”
Irish News

“Sands is a true weaver of dreams and spells.”
Hot Press

“In two minutes the entire audience were singing with him ‘Armenia, Armenia’, a very moving performer.

“One moment my tears were of sorrow, the next moment they were tears of joy, his songs are unforgettable stories.”
Radio Leipzig

“Tommy Sands has achieved that difficult but wonderful balance between knowing and loving the traditions of his home and being concerned with the future of the whole world.”
Pete Seeger

“Tommy Sands is the only man, without a private army, who can intimidate me.”
David Ervine (after being coaxed on stage to sing with Sands at Re-Imagining Ireland in 2003)

Selected Recordings:
Singing of the Times (1985)
Down by Bendy’s Lane: Irish Songs and Stories for Children (1988).
Hedges of County Down (1989)
Beyond the Shadows (1990)
The Heart’s a Wonder (1995)
Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger (1997)
to Shorten the Winter (2002)
Let the Circle be Wide - Tommy Sands with Moya & Fionán (2006)
Arising from the Troubles (2011)

Selected Publications:
The Tommy Sands Songbook 1985 (Spring Publications)
The Songman 2005 Lilliput Press (Autobiographical)

Tommy Makem

Folk Music

Thomas ‘Tommy’ Makem was born on November 4, 1932 in Keady, Co. Armagh. His Mother Sarah was a folk singer and collector of songs.

Makem went to the USA for the first time in 1955, with an ambition to become an actor in New York. He eventually teamed with the Clancy Brothers to form a folk group which became internationally famous after an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1961. He played the long-necked 5-string banjo, guitar, tin whistle, and pipes but was perhaps best known for his distinctive baritone voice. He was sometimes known as The Bard of Armagh, a title taken from a traditional song of the same name. He re-united with Liam Clancy in 1975, and they toured and recorded together for more than a decade. He resumed a solo career and became a broadcaster and television presenter, continuing to perform until the last weeks of his life. He died of lung cancer in August 2007.

“As for writing the songs, James Stephens, my favorite Irish poet and writer, once stated that one doesn’t decide to write a poem (or song), it decides it wants you to write it, and it grabs you by the back of the neck and says write me. Most of these songs were written in the most unlikely places—a subway train, a plane over Canada, driving alone in a car, sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for my wife to get ready to go out. lying in a field — a song is not too particular where and when it decides it should be written, so I always carry a little notebook and a pen.”
Tommy Makem

Paul Brady


Born and raised in Strabane, Northern Ireland, on the border with the Irish Republic, Paul Brady was into a wide variety of music from an early age. A Fifties child, his first sounds were the Swing, Jazz, Show tunes of his parents generation. Then 50’s Rock ‘n Roll, 60’s pop and Motown, Blues, R’nB and Country and Western. Through all this ran the potent flavour of Irish traditional music and song.

Learning to play the piano pretty much by ear, trial and error, his early heroes were Jerry Lee Lewis, Winifred Atwell and Fats Domino. By the age of eleven he had begun to play guitar, spending hours of his school holidays learning every tune the Shadows and The Ventures recorded, every lick Chuck Berry played. Mid-teens saw him take summer jobs playing piano and guitar in Bundoran, a seaside resort in nearby County Donegal. But it was around 1965 in Dublin, at college, that he began to develop as a singer and performer joining a succession of R’n B/Soul bands including The Inmates, The Kult and Rootzgroop, covering the songs of Ray Charles, James Brown, Junior Walker and blues legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Chuck Berry.

The 60’s in Dublin saw the renewal of interest in Irish traditional music and gave birth to the first wave of Irish ballad groups like The Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners, Sweeney’s Men and The Johnstons. Soon Paul was swept up in this current and joined the The Johnstons with whom he recorded seven albums.

Moving with The Johnstons in Jan ‘69 to live in London and later in ‘72 to New York City, he returned to Dublin in 1974 to join Planxty, the premier Irish folk band of the early ‘70’s. This was the band that was to launch the solo careers of Andy Irvine, Liam O‘ Flynn, Donal Lunny and Christy Moore. From ’76 to ’78 he played as a duo with Andy Irvine, a relationship which produced “Andy Irvine and Paul Brady”, an album loved at the time and still sought after today.

The next few years saw him establish his popularity and reputation as one of Ireland’s best interpreters of traditional songs. His versions of great ballads like Arthur McBride and The Lakes Of Pontchartrain were definitive and are still being asked for by audiences today. By the end of the ‘70’s however, he found himself back at the same crossroads once too often. After an acclaimed solo folk album Welcome Here Kind Stranger (1978) which won the Melody Maker Folk Album of the year, he decided it was time to move on.

Surprising most observers at the time, he released Hard Station in 1981. Self-penned, the album lyrically reflected the personal changes he was undergoing and musically was a highly original reworking of his earlier influences. Irish folk music took a back seat for the time being. Those more traditional voices who would have preferred him to stay as he was were soon replaced by the voices of praise for what is now accepted as a classic of Irish rock.

The albums which followed, True For You (1983), Back To The Centre (1985), Primitive Dance (1987), Trick Or Treat (1991) and Spirits Colliding (1995) collectively established Paul as the pre-eminent Irish singer-songwriter of his generation. Gradually other artists worldwide began to record his songs. Touring extensively both as a solo performer and with his own band he has forged a reputation as a passionate and exciting performer and attracts a dedicated following worldwide.

After many years of writing on his own, in the late ‘90s, he began to collaborate with other songwriters and in the space of two years wrote nearly fifty songs, several already covered by other artists. In 1998 he began a relationship with Rykodisc which led to the remastering and re-release of six of his previous albums, Hard Station, True For You, Back To The Centre, Primitive Dance, Trick Or Trea” and Spirits Colliding. There followed in summer of 1999 a best-of collection called Nobody Knows, The Best Of Paul Brady (1970’s-1990’s). It stayed in the Irish album charts for thirty weeks. In the new millennium Paul Brady continued to develop new projects, tour and release critically acclaimed albums, such as ‘Say What You feel’ and ‘Hooba Dooba’.

In 2009 Brady received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Ulster in recognition of his services to traditional Irish music and songwriting.

“Everything I have tried to express in this time, whether in traditional music or in contemporary rock/ pop has been strongly coloured by my Irish environment and primarily aimed at Irish people no matter what creed or political persuasion. I am not a ‘Political’ songwriter… if that means someone whose main aim is to push a particular political line and uses the medium of music to do it. Nonetheless all good music is in a sense political with a small ‘p’ in that it highlights the beauty and pain of all existence and strives to communicate across all borders, be they political or in the mind. My song ‘The Island’ has been called a political song. In fact it is a love song sung by one person to another in a context where neither has any power to change the way things are or trust in those people whose policies of conflict claim to lead us out of the darkness. In time it became a kind of anthem for many people in Ireland who, like me, couldn’t see how hatred, violence, death and destruction would lead to anything but… more of the same.”
Paul Brady

“It began when he was 11, and his father asked him whether he’d prefer a guitar or a harmonica for Christmas. He chose the guitar. Thus did Paul Brady step on to the path that would lead to him becoming one of Ireland’s most celebrated singer- songwriters. He has created more than his fair share of iconic songs – Hard Station, Get Back to the Centre, The Island, Nobody Knows, Crazy Dreams, Busted Loose and Steel Claw . Many have been covered by such stellar artists as Tina Turner, Cher, Carlos Santana, Art Garfunkel and Phil Collins. And he’s not done yet.”
Arminta Wallace, Irish Times, March 20th 2010

Solo Albums:

Welcome Here Kind Stranger (1978)
Hard Station (1981)
True for You (1983)
Back to the Centre (1985)
Full Moon (1986)
Primitive Dance (1987)
Trick or Treat (1991)
Songs & Crazy Dreams (Compilation) (1992)
Spirits Colliding (1995)
Nobody Knows: The Best of Paul Brady (Compilation) (1999)
Oh What a World (2000)
The Paul Brady Songbook (album and DVD) Live recordings for RTÉ TV series (2002)
The (Missing) Liberty Tapes (2003) [Recorded Live at Liberty Hall, Dublin, 21 July 1978]
Say What You Feel (2005)
Hooba Dooba (2010)
Dancer in the Fire: A Paul Brady Anthology (Compilation) (2012)

Collaborative Albums:
With Andy Irvine; Andy Irvine and Paul Brady (1976)
With Tommy Peoples; The High Part of the Road (1975)
With Matt Molloy and Tommy Peoples; Molloy, Brady, Peoples (1977)
With Andy McGann and Paddy Reynolds; Fiddle Duet (1976)
With Andy McGann; It’s A Hard Road to Travel (1977)
With John Kavanagh; The Green Crow Caws (1980)

Compilation albums:
Feed The Folk (1985), Temple Records FTP01, (“The Green Fields Of Canada”)
The Rough Guide to Irish Music (1996)

Harvey Andrews


Harvey Andrews was born in Birmingham on May 7th 1943. He trained as a schoolteacher but began his singer/songwriter career in 1964 when he was paid ten shillings for singing three of his songs for the first time in a folk club. He turned full time pro in 1966.
He has produced 15 albums of his own songs, many of which have been recorded by other artists.
He has appeared at many festivals including Tonder in Denmark, Lunenburg and Regina in Canada, and five Cambridge Folk Festivals in the U.K.
Tours have taken him to Canada, Newfoundland, U.S.A, Germany, Cyprus, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland, Belize, Malta, Holland, Sardinia, Gibraltar, Italy, Portugal, Denmark and Ascension Island.
Television appearances include The Old Grey Whistle Test, Rhythm on Two and over 50 other shows. He has made two television specials featuring his songs, The Camera and The Song, and The Same Old Smile. Two further specials were produced in Holland and Ireland.
He wrote and sang the theme songs for the TV series Golden Pennies and The Haunted School and sang the theme song in the British movie Psychomania.
He has hosted BBC Radio Two’s Folk on Two and a Radio Four Kaleidoscope special was devoted to his work.
The lyrics of one of his songs were used in course work for the national G.C.S.E. English language examination. Another lyric was included in the Oxford University Book of English Traditional Verse.
In 1996 he was voted International Artiste of the Year in the Canadian Porcupine Awards for Folk music.
He wrote the songs for the musical ‘Go and Play Up Your Own End’ which premiered at the Solihull library Theatre in 1998 where he made his acting debut. Subsequently the musical played at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the Birmingham Hippodrome and, in 2003 at the Alexandra Theatre, thus setting a record of having been staged at every one of the second city’s major theatres.

About the song “Soldier”:
When I wrote it, based on the Sgt Willetts incident, the protest song movement was well established. I had no idea the song would become so big.
It was banned from broadcasting in Britain and I was not allowed to sing it on “Folk on Two” on BBC radio. Soldiers were not allowed to play it. One has E mailed me that he was charged and locked up for a few days.It was sold in the streets in Belfast and was basically number one over there but was never printed as such, I think. It has been bootlegged as well as re-recorded by Protestant bands in Scotland and sold illegally in pubs.
If I learned anything from all this it is that words and music have an extraordinary power and care must be taken in their use.
The cd containing the song, “Writer of Songs”, is still the biggest seller on my website.

Phil Coulter


Born on February 19th 1942, fourth child and third son in the family. His father was a constable in the Royal Ulster Constabulary from Strangford, County Down who played the fiddle. His mother, originally from the Markets in Belfast played the piano.
Coulter says of his childhood, “Our house was always full of music”.

He attended St. Columb’s in Derry and Queen’s University in Belfast. In 1964 and went to London where he got a job with a music publisher in Tin Pan Alley (Denmark Street) and after a few years linked up with Scottish songwriter Bill Martin.

Coulter also played as a session pianist in recording studios or for concerts with artists such as Van Morrison, Tom Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Rolling Stones. In 1967, one of Coulter and Martin’s songs, ‘Puppet On A String’, sung by Sandie Shaw, won the Eurovision Song Contest. The song ‘Congratulations’ was runner-up the following year and two years later Londonderry girl Rosemary Brown, Dana, won with ‘All Kinds Of Everything’.

Coulter began working in the genre of Irish folk music, producing albums for Planxty, the Furey Brothers and The Dubliners. He formed an especially close bond with the Dubliners, writing ‘The Town I Loved So Well’ and ‘Scorn Not His Simplicity’ for them. The Fureys, too, had success with his songs, notably ‘Steal Away’ and ‘The Old Man’.

In 1984 Phil Coulter assembled an orchestra and recorded Classic Tranquillity which became the biggest selling album in Ireland, lead to further albums and concert tours around the world including four sell-out shows in Carnegie Hall.

Since then, he has continued to record albums, both as a solo performer and with other musicians.

Phil Coulter’s anthemic song for Derry, The Town I Loved So Well is a lament for the state of the place during the Troubles.

Rita Duffy

Visual Arts

Rita Duffy is one of Northern Ireland’s ground breaking artists who began her work concentrating primarily on the figurative / narrative tradition.

However not content with the restrictions of a limited gallery situation she soon evolved art projects that placed her work in a “community context”. The Drawing the Blinds Project at Divis Flats, was a major public art project. Using a reinvention of traditional portraiture she delivered a large scale project that gave voice to the residents of the tower block. It remains one of the few Belfast art projects that attracted national television coverage.

Duffy set up the Integrated Arts project at the new RVH Children’s Hopsital, winning a position for the artist on design teams, alongside other professionals, architects and engineers, designing and forming our built environment. She was made an Hon. Member of the RSUA for this work. Duffy worked with Todd Architects developing an integrated art project for the new Public Record Office of Northern Ireland building in Titanic Quarter.

She describes her work as “deeply rooted in the Ulster experience”. In 2004 she formed the Thaw Ltd. with film producer Margo Harkin, to facilitate a public artwork which aims to bring an iceberg to Belfast.

Duffy’s work has grown and evolved, collaboratively working across art forms with writers and theatre professionals. Duffy’s preoccupation with watchtowers and the landscape of surveillance has continued to the present day and a major solo exhibition of her “Watchtower paintings”, was held in the Spectrum Gallery in London – Rita Duffy commented: “As time passes the immediacy of violence, suspicion and paranoia subsides. Different contours begin to dominate the political landscape of the North; a place of reconstruction, where city and country become reconfigured according to a logic of economic necessity, and history is once more remade in the image of current imperatives. These negotiations with the past permit its stories to be told in a different way; that which was buried becomes exhumed, previous certainties become open to question. These paintings are an act of surveillance, and as such, they are about the whole nature of looking”.

Duffy’s practice continues to develop and her public art projects are increasingly preoccupied with international themes. She has worked with Goldsmith’s College London researching the role of art in post conflict society and continues to build creative links between Argentina and Northern Ireland. She holds a Leverhulme Fellowship with the Transitional Justice Institute, looking at the role visual art has in post conflict societies.

Pictures have always held my fascination and drawing became an important activity very early in my life. Growing up in 1960s Belfast promised more than enough confusion for anyone. My mother was from Clara Co.Offaly, and such was the intense pull to the centre of Ireland and the matriarchy – my maternal grandmother and my mother’s six sisters - that I was twelve before I realized I came from Belfast! The sense of dislocation never left me. That lack of belonging anywhere, and the confusion and my constant observation looking for clues and incongruities, formed the foundations of my art practice.

Writings About and / or Featuring Rita Duffy artworks:

Paul Muldoon – Cloth
Vikki Bell – politics
Liam Kelly –surveillance

An Iceberg’s Collison With History, Fiona Barber, Essential Gesture Catalogue 2005
In the Time of Shaking, Amnesty International, Ciaran Benson.
Leadheads and Icebergs, Paul Muldoon, and Suzanne O Shea.
House to House, Whitney Chadwick.
Beatland, Whitney Chadwick
A Way, a Lone, A Last, A Loved, a Long the, Leonida, Kovax,
The Hibernia Aidan Dunne
Rita Duffy, An Appraisal, Essay by Denise Ferran, The
Irish Review, Autumn 1997

Banquet, Suzanne O’Shea, The Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast and the Hugh Lane Dublin, August 1997. Introduction by Brian Kennedy.
Thinking Long - Contemporary Art from Northern Ireland Liam Kelly 1997
Crossing Boundaries - Belfast/San Francisco, Whitney, Chadwick, and Hilary Robinson 1996
Artists’ Lives - A.N. Productions, John O’Farrell 1996
Art Beyond Conflict - Narrative Jim Smith 1996
Palimpest - Reconstructing Narratives, Hilary Robinson and the ‘The White Hens of Stranmillis’ Tess Hurson 1996
Poetic Land: Political Territory, Christina Braithewaite, Northern Centre for Contemporary Art 1995
Ceasefire, Wolverhampton Art Gallery & Museum, Lisa Rul 1994
Parable Island, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, Brian McAvera 1991
Uncertain Traditions Edmonton Art Gallery, Elizabeth Kidd 1991
On The Balcony of the Nation Arts Council for Northern Ireland, Brian Ferran 1990
Rita Duffy, New Works Arts Council for Northern
Ireland, Fionna Barber 1989
Issues Arts Council for N Ireland,
Denise Ferran, 1989
Directions Out Douglas Hyde Gallery - Brian McAvera, 1987

Gordon McKnight Architects


Gordon McKnight’s architectural practice was begun in the 1950s, Orangefield Presbyterian Church in Belfast (1955-7) marking one of the first in a long specialist line of church designs (particularly for Protestant denominations) over four decades, including Methodist College Chapel, Belfast (1968), Martyrs’ Memorial Free Presbyterian Church, Belfast (1969), St Columba’s Church of Ireland, Portadown (1970), High Kirk, Ballymena (1976) and Albertbridge Road Congregational, Belfast (1986), all designed during the Troubles era. The practice was based initially in Belfast and later moved to Holywood, Co. Down. McKnight’s first pupil Norman Hawthorn (d.2009) stayed with the firm for the duration of his career and became a partner, continuing the practice after Gordon McKnight retired. McKnight became an active water-colour artist in his retirement and an Academician of the Royal Ulster Academy (RUA).

Sean Hillen

Visual Arts

Seán Hillen first became known for photomontage works based on his own documentary photos from the era of the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’, made over the period 1982-93.

He was born in 1961 in Newry, Co. Down, studied at Belfast College of Art, the London College of Printing and the Slade School of Fine Art. In the 1990’s he moved to Dublin from London and began a new series of collage works collectively titled ‘IRELANTIS’, which has since also become well-known and widely admired. Seamus Heaney opened that exhibition and Fintan O’Toole wrote the introduction for the book. Reproductions of many of the pieces now grace the covers of contemporary academic publications, particularly on Irish subjects.

He has also executed several commissions and collaborations including video for Super Furry Animals and the Re-Joyce Festival; stage design; advertisements; title graphics for BBC TV; permanent sculptures for Citigroup SA and Dublin City Council; an education project with Amnesty International, and special effects and props for theatre.

In 2007 he won the international design competition, with Landscape Architect Desmond Fitzgerald, for the Omagh Bomb Memorial, which was unveiled in August 2008.

His work is in many private and public collections including several in the Permanent Collection of the Imperial War Museum London with some on permanent exhibition at IWM North; in that of Allied Irish Banks; the Irish State Collection; the European Central Bank, The Irish Central Bank; and Microsoft Ltd.

He won the Prankerd-Jones Memorial Prize in the Slade School in 1986 and ’87; the Laura Ashley Memorial Gift in 1990, and several other awards and prizes.

Recent works has included “Melancholy Witness”, first published by The History Press, Dublin 2013. This collection of 120 of Seán Hillen’s acclaimed collection of black-and-white documentary photographs from ‘Troubles’-era Northern Ireland, (recently acquired as a Permanent Collection by The National Library of Ireland) was published in the US by Trafalgar Square Press / IPG in 2014.

“Growing up in Newry in the 1970s I was profoundly affected by the conflict happening around us, becoming familiar with the sound of gun battles every night to the point that we were able to identify weapons and rounds fired, and I personally got slightly involved in stone-throwing as a young teenager.I was lucky to realise the danger and fruitlessness of this and channeled my energies into I thought more creative pursuits, becoming an obsessive photographer as a teenager and taking many photos during the 1980s of what was happening around me, and traveling backwards and forwards from London to do so.”

Sean Hillen

Robinson and McIlwaine Architects


History of firm: (in particular as related to the period of the Troubles and relevant projects)

Established in the 1963, Robinson McIlwaine (RMI) was founded as a partnership between Chartered Architects Victor Robinson and Derek McIlwaine. It has grown into an award-winning Belfast-based firm of architects with a strong reputation, though at the time of winning the Waterfront Hall competition it was a relatively young practice. The firm is currently engaged in design work at Belfast’s Titanic Quarter among other projects.

A selection of other buildings of note designed by the firm include: the Canyon Factory, Mallusk; the General Accident Building, Belfast; the Europa Bus Station, Belfast; the New Bar Library, Belfast; the Switch Room Gallery, Belfast; and the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Sculpture Park, Banbridge.

Evans, David & Larmour, Paul et al., Modern Ulster Architecture, Belfast, 2006

‘Bravo: Belfast Waterfront Hall’, Perspective (RSUA Journal), Special Supplement, January 1997

‘Building Study: On the Waterfront’, Architects’ Journal 205 (9), 6 March 1997

‘Belfast Belle’, World Architecture (57), 1997

Willie Doherty

Visual arts

Willie Doherty was born in Derry in 1959 where he continues to live and work. He was educated at Ulster Polytechnic (1977-1981) and is currently Professor of Video Art at the University of Ulster.

Doherty has twice been shortlisted for the Turner Prize, once in 1994 and again in 2003. He has been selected for the Northern Ireland exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

His work has been presented in prestigious international group exhibitions, including dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, Germany, 2012; Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain, 2010; 51st Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 2005; 8th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey, 2003; 25th Sao Paulo Biennial, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2002; and Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, PA,1999.

Solo Exhibitions
2015 CAM Gulbenkian, Lisbon
2014 De Pont, Tilburg, The Netherlands
2013 City Factory Gallery, Derry
2013 Neue Galerie Museumslandschaft Hessen, Kassel
2013 The Irish Museum of Modern Art at NCH
2012 Statens Museum for Kunst, National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen
2012 Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne
2012 Wolverhampton Art Gallery
2011 The Speed Art Museum, Kentucky
2009 Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto
2009 Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh
2009 Three Potential Endings - Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich
2008 Willie Doherty - Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin
Replays: Selected video work 1994-2007 - Matt´s Gallery, London (England)
2007 Stories - Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus & Kunstbau, Munich
Willie Doherty - Kunstverein, Hamburg
Willie Doherty - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey MARCO, Monterrey, NL
Passage - Alexander and Bonin, New York City, NY
2006 Willie Doherty - Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City
Willie Doherty - Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich
Willie Doherty - Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
2005 Apparatus - Galerie Nordenhake - Berlin, Berlin
Willie Doherty - Galería Pepe Cobo, Madrid
Non-specific Threat - Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade/Muzej savremene umetnosti Beograd, Belgrade
2004 Non-Specific Threat - Alexander and Bonin, New York City, NY
2003 Willie Doherty - De Appel, Amsterdam
2002 Memory - Irish Museum of Modern Art - IMMA, Dublin
Unknown Male Subject - Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
2001 Extracts from a File - Alexander and Bonin, New York City, NY
2000 Extracts from a File - Akten-Auszug - Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst e.V. Bremen
1999 True Nature - The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
1998 Same old Story - MAGASIN-Centre National d’art Contemporain de Grenoble, Grenoble

Group shows
2009 OPEN e v+ a 2009 Reading the City - ev+a, Limerick
Pequeña historia de la fotografía - CGAC - Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela
Video Portraits - Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA

2008 Jahresgaben 2008 - Kunstverein München, Munich

2007 Gehen bleiben - Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn
52nd International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale / Biennale di Venezia - La Biennale di Venezia, Venice
(I’m Always Touched) By Your Presence, Dear - New Acquisitions - Irish Museum of Modern Art - IMMA, Dublin
Resolutions; New Art from Northern Ireland - The Katzen Arts Center at American University, Washington, DC
Things we may have missed - GtGallery, Belfast
3rd Auckland Triennial - Auckland Triennial, Auckland

2006 The Disembodied Eye; the collective histories of Northern irish art
Tunnel Vision - Fotomuseum Antwerpen, Antwerp
Peintres de la vie moderne Modern-life painters - Donation - Caisse des Dépôts’ photograph collection - Centre Pompidou; Musée National d´Art Moderne, Paris
Reprocessing Reality - P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island
Full House - Gesichter einer Sammlung; Städtische Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim

2005 Propossession - Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
51st International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale / Biennale di Venezia - Always a little further - La Biennale di Venezia, Venice

2004 Dwellan - Exhibition of contemporary video art - Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen
Somewhere Everywhere Nowhere, contemporary art from FRAC - Dundee Contemporary Arts - DCA, Dundee (Scotland)
Views from an Island and Representing the Táin - Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai
In the Time of Shaking: Irish artists for Amnesty International - Irish Museum of Modern Art - IMMA, Dublin

2003 Turner Prize 2003 - Tate Britain, London (England)
8th International Istanbul Biennial 2003 - International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul
Site Specific - Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago - MCA Chicago, Chicago, IL

2002 Something Else - Contemporary Irish Art; Amos Anderson Art Museum, Helsinki
Spread In Prato - HISK - Higher Institute for Fine Arts , Gent
Dryphoto Arte contemporanea, Prato
Europa-América - Selección 25ª Bienal de Sao Paulo 2002 - MAC - MAC Museo de Arte Contemporáneo. Universidad de Chile, Santiago
25° Bienal de São Paulo - Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo
The Unblinking Eye - Irish Museum of Modern Art , Dublin
2001 Trauma - Dundee Contemporary Arts - DCA, Dundee (Scotland)
>Double Vision< - Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, GfZK, Leipzig

2000 Shifting Ground: Selected Works of Irish Art 1950 - 2000 - Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
1999 Dimensions Variable - Contemporary British Art; Contemporary Art Center Vilnius (CAC), Vilnius

1998 New Art from Britain - Kunstraum Innsbruck, Innsbruck

1997 Being & Time; The Emergence of Video Projection
Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX

No place (like home) - Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

1996 Happy End - Kunsthalle Dusseldorf
Language, Mapping and Power - Orchard Gallery, Derry

1995 Distant Relations - Ikon, Birmingham; Camden Arts Centre, London; IMMA, Dublin.

Locky Morris

Visual Arts

Locky Morris was born in Derry in 1960, where he continues to live and work. He studied at Ulster Polytechnic (1978 - 80) and Manchester Polytechnic (1980 - 83).

Throughout his career, his engagement with Derry City and its changing character has shaped his work, often showing in community centres and the street. Over recent years, he has successfully completed a number of commissions for public art including Atlantic Drift (Derry City Council, 1998) and Polestar (Donegal County Council, 2006).

Made of simple, low value and ‘disposable’ materials (painted cardboard, masking tape), Morris’s sculptural work is fragile, almost child-like in construction but is evocatively exploring complex and contentious issues and ideas.

For a number of years in the late nineties he concentrated solely on making music with the band Rare.

Morris’s early works use Derry as a backdrop to mediate and comment on the experience of military surveillance and the inevitable objectification of the observed individual.

During the 80s and 90s he became known for producing work that referred and reacted explicitly to the Northern Irish conflict. Some early pieces was shown in the British Art Show touring Britain (1990), and New North (1990) and Strongholds (1991) at the Tate Gallery, Liverpool, while also being exhibited in his local neighbourhood, in places like disused bookmakers, community centres and vacant premises. He maintains this approach with upcoming projects in alternative spaces and continues to exhibit widely with recent solo presentations at the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Mannheimer Kunstverein, Germany and Mothers Tankstation, Dublin, along with group exhibitions at the Model, Sligo, Tulca festival, Galway, White Box Gallery and Apexart in New York City.

Selected Solo Shows:
2013/14 Dead On, Public Artwork with sound on a dead tree, Brooke Park, Derry, Void Sites, Artists’ garden, Derry (Dec 2013-April 2014)
2013 A Week in Goals, new and recent work, Creggan, Derry (Oct-Dec)
2011 This Then, Regional Cultural Centre, Donegal, Ireland
2011 Window Sill, Context Gallery, Derry, Northern Ireland
2010 From Day One, Mother’s tankstation, Dublin
2010 This Then, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
2008 Me and my shadow, Mannheimer Kunstverein, Germany
2006 Polestar, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal
2005 Premises, 3 works for 3 shops, Derry
2002 Home Entertainment, Orchard Gallery, Derry
 Atlantic Drift, City Council Offices, Strand Road, Derry
2000 The Work of a Dog, Context Gallery, Derry
 A Day’s Work (permanent video work) Mullan’s Bar, Little James’ St, Derry
 Past Conversation (installation using sound), Old Bookies, Chamberlain Street, Derry
1994 Comm II, Orchard Gallery, Derry
 Comm, Cornerhouse, Manchester
 Sculpture at the Centre, Pilot’s Row Community Centre, Derry
1988 Art in Conflict, Donegal County Museum, Letterkenny
 Flight of the Cooker, Pilot’s Row Community Centre, Derry
 In Their Place, Nine Sculptures for Derry City Walls, City Council Arts
 Sculpture, Orchard Gallery, Derry

Selected Group Shows:
2014/15 Invisible Violence, Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, Serbia.
2014/15 Artium, Basque Museum- Centre for Contemporary Art-Vitoria, Spain
2014 Art of The Troubles, Ulster Museum, Belfast.
2014 The Faraway Nearby, FE Mc Williams Gallery, Banbridge.
2014 Re-Framing the Domestic in Irish Art, Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, Ireland
2013 Tomorrows Almost Over, Void, Derry
 All Humans Do, White Box, Broome St, New York City -Toured to The Model, Sligo, Ireland
2012 Are We There Yet, Glenties, The Warehouse, Donegal, Ireland
2012 You Are Now Entering, Centre for Contemporary Art, Derry-Londonderry, Derry
2012 What became of the people we used to be? Tulca Festival, Galway, Ireland
2011 The Walls That Divide Us, Apexart, Church Street, NYC,
2009 Fantopia. A state of impossible perfection. Or, how to live with perfect people (and not kill them), Mother’s tankstation, Dublin.
2008 A Shout in the Street, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast,
2007 Things we may have missed, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast,
2006 The Disembodied Eye, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
2006 Dogs Have No Religion, Czech Museum of Fine Arts, Prague (toured to Tralee)
 The Trouble with Talkies, ADI Space, London
B-Lomo (artists engage with Leopold Bloom), Context Gallery, Derry
 Something Else: Contemporary Art From Ireland, Turku Art Museum; Amos Anderson
 Art Museum, Helsinki; Oulu City
2002-3 Art Museum; Joensuu Art Museum
 Small Steps, Context Gallery, Derry; Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin
2001 Bloody Sunday (with Willie Doherty and Philip Napier), Orchard Gallery, Derry
 In Search of Experience – Reconsidering the Readymade, Green on Red Gallery, Dublin
2000 Small Steps, The Ellipse Art Centre, Washington
2000 One of those Days, Mannheimer Kunstverein, Germany
 Culture in Conflict, The Puffin Room, New York
1996 L’Imaginaire Irlandais, L’École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts,Paris
 Dirty, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
 Schnittstellen, Heidelberger Kunstverein, Germany
1992 In-between, XLV Bienalle Venezia ( part of an artwork for the Turkish Pavilion – Adam Yilmaz/Jarg Geismer)
1991 Kunst Europa, Mannheimer Kunstverein, Germany
1991 Strongholds, Tate Gallery, Liverpool
1990 British Art Show, McLelland Galleries, Glasgow; Leeds City Art Gallery; Hayward Gallery, London
1990 New North, Tate Gallery, Liverpool; Laing Gallery, Newcastle; Third Eye Centre, Glasgow; Orchard Gallery, Derry, Mappin Gallery, Sheffield
 GPA Awards for Emerging Artists, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin
1988 Sculpture Open ’88, City Centre, Dublin
 Directions Out, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin
1887 State of the Nation, Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry
1986 Place as Object, Art and Research Exchange, Belfast
1986 Political Life, Cornerhouse, Manchester
 New Art From Manchester, Salford Art Gallery
1984 Object Matters, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool
1984 Irish Exhibition of Living Art, Guinness Hop Store, Dublin

Dermot Seymour

Visual Arts

Dermot Seymour was born in Belfast, 1956, and studied B.A Fine Art and A.D Fine Art at the University of Ulster, 1974-78 and 1980-81. He now lives and works in Co. Mayo.

He has shown extensively in Ireland and beyond, including the exhibitions Something Else (which toured in Finland), On the Balcony of the Nation (which toured the United States) and group/solo shows in Florida, Warsaw, London and Berlin.

He was elected a member of Aosdana in 1997.

Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2014, Fliskmahaigo, Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin
2012 Solstice Art Centre, Navan
2012 Fish, Flesh & Fowl, Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris
2011 Fish, Flesh & Fowl, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
2010 Hibernium: A Trip Across the Head of Ireland, Kevin Kavanagh, Dublin
2007 Eyed - Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin
2005 Spatial Notions - Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin
2003 Dog - Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin
1995 Patriotic Pecking Borders - Vanguard gallery, macroom

Selected Group Exhibitions:
2011 The Horse Show, Kinsale Arts Week, curated by Gemma Tipton and Patrick T.Murphy
Room Outside, Kevin Kavanagh, Dublin
2009 In the Mind’s Eye, State Art Collection Touring Exhibition
10th Anniversary Exhibition, Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise
2008 An Eye for an Eye - Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork
2007 December group show - Fenton Gallery, Cork
The Other Side of Real - Cavanacor Gallery, Lifford
Double Image: Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art - Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
2006 The Disembodied Eye: Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art - Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
2005 Seeing is Believing - Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin
A Moment in Time - Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Dublin
Seeing Orange - Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown (Northern Ireland)
The West as Metaphor - RHA Gallagher Gallery - Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin
2003 Dead Bodies - Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris
flock, gaggle, and herd - Model Arts & Niland Gallery, Sligo
2002 The Public Eye: 50 Years of The Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection - City Art Centre, Edinburgh (Scotland)
Something Else - Contemporary Irish Art - Amos Anderson Art Museum, Helsinki
Something Else - Irish Contemporary Art - Turku Art Museum, Turku
The Public Eye: 50 years of the Arts Council Collection - Ormeau Baths Gallery OBG, Belfast (Northern Ireland)
1999 Fauna - Zacheta - National Gallery of Art, Warsaw
Irish Painting - Grey Art Gallery, NYU, New York City, NY
When Time began to Rant and Rage - Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive BAM/PFA, Berkeley, CA
1998 When Time Began To Rant and Rage - Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (England)
Perspective 98 - Ormeau Baths Gallery OBG, Belfast (Northern Ireland)

Selected Writings about Dermot Seymour:
Dermot Seymour - Works (Liam Kelly, Gandon Editions (1995))
The Bloated Inability to Eat Flags - Dermot Seymour Selected Paintings 1983-2004 (Johnston, Tipton & Kelly, Millennium Court Arts Centre (2005))

Philip Napier

Visual Arts

Philip Napier was born in Belfast in 1965. He was educated at Manchester Polytechnic (Foundation and BA 1983 - 87) and University of Ulster (Masters 1988 - 89). In 1991, he won the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s British School at Rome Scholarship. He is currently Head of Sculpture at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.

A continued concern in Napier’s mixed-media installation work is the complexities, inadequacies and ambiguities of language which operate and linger within the colonial legacy of Ireland and in particular Northern Ireland. The colonized often seek refuge in language as a strategic way of getting at the colonizer. And since cultural identity is laid into language it is not surprising that language can become the cause of a violent interaction between the colonized and the colonizer.

Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2012 Philip Napier – recalculating, VOID , Derry.2006 The Soft Estate (in collaboration with Michael Hogg) - Golden Thread Gallery , Belfast
2002 Gauge 5 - Kunstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt, Germany
1997 Gauge Part 1 - Orchard Gallery, Derry
1997 Gauge Part 2 - Shown as part of Locations, Dislocations, Relocations on the occasion of the International Critics Conference, Bogside, Derry.
1997 Gauge 3 - PS1 New York, USA
1996 Strip - Centre D’Art Contemporaine F.R.A.C Le Creux De L,Enfer
1996 A Locus + / On Edge Production - The Video Inn, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
1995 Blacktop - Arts Council Gallery , Belfast
1994 Actuation - Newry Arts Centre
1991 Coalface - British School at Rome, Italy

Selected Group Exhibitions
2014 Art of the Troubles, Ulster Museum, Belfast
2010 Archiving Place & Time, Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown
2009 Arts Council Northern Ireland Troubles Exhibition , Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast.
2007 Re – Generation, Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown.
2007 Napier/Hogg joint venture, Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Dublin.
2007 Things we may have missed, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast.
2007 Resolutions; New Art from Northern Ireland, American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC.
2006 The Soft Estate, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
2006 The Dissembodied Eye: Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
2004 Thinking About Ideas - Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
2003 The Public Eye - Selected works from the Arts Council Collection - Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast & Fruitmarket, Edinburgh
2001 Thinking About Drawing - Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin
2000 Montreal Biennale
1999 Fauna - Museum Zacatecus, Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland
1999 Group - Liverpool Biennale Fringe, England
1999 Bloody Sunday, Orchard Gallery, Derry
1998 Glen Dimplex Awards - Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
1996 Mapping, Language and Power - Gallery Diana Nikki Marquette, Paris;
1996 Orchard Gallery, Derry; Centre for Contemporary Art, Llubiana, Slovenia.
1996 L’Imaginaire Irlandais - L’Ecole Superiere de Beaux Art, Paris, France
1995 Distant Relations - Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, Camden Arts Centre, London; England; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Santa Monica Museum, California, USA; Museo Art Carillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico
1994 From Beyond the Pale - Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
1994 XXII Sao Paolo Biennale
1994 Identita e Rapprazentazioni Cartofiche - Museo Nazionale Prehistorico Ethnographico, Luigi Pigorini, Italy
1993 Other Borders; Six Irish Projects - Site specific projects in and around Washington Square organised by the Grey Art Gallery and Study Centre, New York University.
1992 In and out of the Circle - Kerlin Gallery, Dublin; Fenderesky Gallery at Queens, Belfast
1991 Shocks to the System; Social and Political Issues in recent British Art
1991 From the Arts Council Collection - Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London and touring nationally

Carlo Gébler


Carlo Gébler was born in Dublin in 1954 and brought up in London. He is the son of novelists Edna O’Brien and Ernst Gébler. He studied English at the University of York and the practice of film-making at the National Film and Television School, Beaconsfield. He is a member of Aosdána. He was awarded a PhD by Queen’s University in 2009.

Carlo Gébler is the author of a range of books: novels including The Eleventh Summer (1985); Work and Play (1987); Life of a Drum (1991); The Cure (1994); How to Murder a Man (1998) and A Good Day For A Dog (2008); a collection of short stories, W9 and Other Lives (1996); novels for children including August ‘44 (2003) and The Bull Raid (2005); the travel books, Driving through Cuba: an east-west journey (1988); and The Glass Curtain: Inside an Ulster community (1991); and the work of narrative history, The Siege of Derry (2005), an account of Derry’s 105-day struggle against the Jacobite army in 1689.

Carlo Gébler also writes plays: these include Dance of Death (2000), a version of August Strindberg’s work of the same name; 10 Rounds (2002), an adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde relocated to Belfast; and Henry & Harriet (2007). He contributes reviews, articles and short stories to many national publications, has written a number of opera libretti, and occasionally works as a producer and director of television documentaries.

In 2000 he published an autobiography, Father and I: A memoir. In 2008 he co-authored My Father’s Watch: The Story of a Child Prisoner in ‘70s Britain with Patrick Maguire. He lives outside Enniskillen in Northern Ireland and teaches creative writing at HMP Maghaberry, where he is writer-in-residence.

“Both my parents [Edna O’Brien and Ernest Gébler] were writers. The most important thing I learnt was that you can type out words on bits of paper, post them off and they send back money. My mother was more widely regarded as an author than my father, but her presence in her children’s life was maternal rather than literary: she was the woman who made the dinner and washed our hair.”

The Eleventh Summer Hamish Hamilton, 1985
August in July Hamish Hamilton, 1986
Work and Play Hamish Hamilton, 1987
Driving through Cuba: an east-west journey Hamish Hamilton, 1988
The TV Genie Hamish Hamilton, 1989
Malachy and his Family Hamish Hamilton, 1990
Life of a Drum Hamish Hamilton, 1991
The Glass Curtain: inside an Ulster community Hamish Hamilton, 1991
The Witch That Wasn’t (illustrated by V. Littlewood) Hamish Hamilton, 1991
The Cure Hamish Hamilton, 1994
W9 and Other Lives Lagan Press, 1996
Frozen Out Mammoth, 1998
How to Murder a Man Little, Brown, 1998
The Base (illustrated by Dan Williams) Mammoth, 1999
Dance of Death (adaptation) Lagan Press, 2000
Father and I: a memoir Little, Brown, 2000
Caught on a Train Mammoth, 2001
10 Rounds (adaptation) Lagan Press, 2002
August ‘44 Egmont, 2003
The Bull Raid Egmont, 2005
The Siege of Derry Little, Brown, 2005
Henry and Harriet: And Other Plays Lagan Press, 2007
A Good Day For A Dog Lagan Press, 2008
My Father’s Watch: The Story of a Child Prisoner in 70s Britain (with Patrick Maguire) Fourth Estate, 2008
The Dead Eight, New Island Books, 2011

1998 How to Murder a Man, long-listed Booker
2001 Bisto Prize (Ireland) (merit prize) Caught on a Train
2002 Ewart-Biggs Prize (shortlist) Ten Rounds
2003 Bisto Prize (Ireland) (shortlist) August ‘44

John Morrow


Born in Belfast, 1930, John Morrow left school to work in the shipyards, and has since worked as a navvy, insurance agent and arts administrator. He died on 6th November, 2014

He began writing short stories in the 1960s and his first works were published in the Honest Ulsterman and the Irish Press. In 1978 he joined the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, becoming Director of Combined Arts with responsibility for literature and community arts in 1991, retiring in 1995.

Described by Seamus Heaney as “a fantasist, a joker bull in the literary china shop, bawdy, nasty, a master of cornerboy cant and an enemy of radical chic”, John Morrow’s stories are laced throughout with a savage wit and local humour. His novels include The Confessions of Proinsias O’Toole (1977), The Essex Factor (1982) and The Anals of Ballyturdeen (1996). His short fiction is gathered in two collections, Northern Myths (1979) and Sects and Other Stories (1987) and a collection of short autobiographical pieces, Pruck: A Life in Bits and Pieces was published in 1999.

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature & Drama at the Arts Council, said: “This is a sad morning for the arts in Northern Ireland. John Morrow found his calling in mid life as a writer of formidable comic talent. He provided through the years of communal violence and low-grade bitter sectarian squabbling a persistent anarchic commentary in the best traditions of satire, at once acerbic, merciless, excoriating and fair, equitable and humane.

His novels and short fiction works will survive as records of his unique and daring comic vision in the darkest of times. The autobiographical vignettes collected in Pruck: A Life in Bits and Pieces (1999) offer his own reflections on his family and his place in the madcap disturbances of an Ulster life. He proved a genial and generous advocate of young writers in all genres, though none managed to capture the racy virulence of his own comic manner. Happy to record, he emerged from the trauma of 20 years in arts administration with only a small tic, like The Duke, “head cocked to one side as though listening to some unseen presence over his left shoulder”. Raise a glass today to his Glorious, Pious and Immortal Memory.”

Morrow’s response to the Troubles was to mock the earnestness of the participants through satire.

Confessions of Proinsias O’Toole (Belfast: Blackstaff 1977)
The Essex Factor (Belfast: Blackstaff 1982)
Northern Myths (Belfast: Blackstaff 1979)
Sects and Other Stories (Belfast: Blackstaff 1987)
The Anals of Ballyturdeen (Belfast: Lagan Press 1996)
Pruck: A Life in Bits and Pieces (Belfast: Lagan Press 1999)

Polly Devlin


Author, journalist, broadcaster, film-maker, art critic and conservationist, Polly Devlin has had a remarkable career, taking her far from her rural roots in County Tyrone to the sophisticated world of Vogue in London, New York and Paris. As Features Editor for Vogue she interviewed many major personalities of the 1960s, including Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, John Osborne, Andy Warhol, and worked with photographers David Bailey, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Lord Snowdon.

She was married in Tuscany to industrialist Adrian Garnett, and they have three grown-up daughters. In Somerset they have many animals and have planted thousands of trees and reclaimed hundreds of acres for meadowland and bird reserves.

In 1994 she was awarded an OBE for services to Literature. In addition to her three acclaimed books, All Of Us There, The Far Side of the Lough and Dora: or The Shifts of the Heart, Polly Devlin is also the author of the Vogue Book of Fashion Photography, a Guide Book to Dublin and a book of essays, Only Sometimes Looking Sideways.

Polly Devlin was born in a remote almost medieval area in Co Tyrone in Ireland in the 1940’s; there were no telephones or electricity in the region when she was growing up and ponies and traps were more common than motor cars. Her first job was as a result of having won the Vogue Talent competition, the main attraction of which was a job on the magazine.

She says the most boring question she has to answer about that time is how someone from so different and rural a background could have gone straight into life at Vogue. As Features Editor for three years she traveled the world interviewing people as disparate as Farah Diba, the Empress of Persia, to Barbra Streisand and Orson Welles. She was the first person to interview Bob Dylan in England, to write about Seamus Heaney, and almost certainly the first woman to travel across Abu Dhabi, which she did before that country became oil-rich. She recalls seeing horses being turned off a patch of hardened earth as the tiny aeroplane which brought her to Abu Dhabi came in to land; as one recalcitrant horse galloped in front of the aeroplane she realised that their paddock was also the landing strip.

She became a columnist for the New Statesman when she was twenty-three, and had her own page in the Evening Standard a year later. Soon after she went to live in Manhattan as a Features Editor and writer for Diana Vreeland on American Vogue. At this time she worked with, among others, Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Irving Penn, Norman Parkinson and Tony Snowdon.

In 1970 she stopped journalism; in 1990 she became a roving critic, with particular emphasis on art and major exhibitions for The International Herald Tribune for a year. In the same years she wrote a publication for the National Gallery of Ireland on their ceramic collections.

She has been a Judge of the Booker Prize in England and in Ireland a judge on the Irish Times Aer Lingus Literary award.

She is professor at Barnard College, Columbia University, New York.


All of us There a social history. Virago Modern Classics

The Far side of the Lough Short stories. Re-published O’Brien Press.

Vogue Book of Fashion Photography. Thames and Hudson.

Dora or the Shifts of the Heart; a novel Chatto and Windus. Serialised on Radio 4.

Dublin; a Guide Book.

Only Sometimes Looking Sideways; A Book of Essays. O’Brien Press.

Film: The Daisy Chain. Documentary: director and writer.

Baby Girl, a radio play.

A Guide to Ceramics for the National Gallery Ireland.

Deirdre Madden


Deirdre Madden was born in 1960 in County Antrim.
Among her many awards are the Hennessey Award for Short Fiction 1979; The Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, 1987; The Somerset Maugham Award, 1989; The Kerry Ingredients Book of the Year Award, 1997; and Writer Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, 1996-1997. One by One in the Darkness was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She lives in Ireland and France.

Hidden Symptoms (Faber & Faber 1986)
The Birds of the Innocent Wood (Faber & Faber 1988)
Remembering Light and Stone (Faber & Faber 1993)
Nothing Is Black (Faber & Faber 1994)
One by One in the Darkness (Faber & Faber 1996)
Authenticity (Faber & Faber 2002)
Snake’s Elbows (Faber & Faber 2005)
Thanks for Telling Me, Emily (Faber & Faber 2007)
Molly Fox’s Birthday (Faber & Faber 2008)

Jennifer Johnston


Born in Dublin in 1930, she studied at Trinity College, Dublin. Jennifer Johnston’s first published novel was The Captains and the Kings (1972). Since then, she has published many highly acclaimed novels, including Shadows on our Skin (1977), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and The Old Jest (1979), set in the War of Independence which won the Whitbread Award. The Old Jest was later filmed as The Dawning, starring Anthony Hopkins.

Other novels include: How Many Miles to Babylon? (1974), set in World War I, and later adapted for stage; The Invisible Worm (1991), dealing with the subject of sexual abuse, and shortlisted for the Daily Express Best Book of the Year Award; The Gingerbread Woman (2000), about a widower who has lost his wife and child to terrorists; This Is Not a Novel (2002); Grace and Truth (2005); and recently, Foolish Mortals (2007).

Jennifer Johnston’s plays have included The Nightingale and Not the Lark (1980), and O Ananias, Azarias and Misael (first published in Best Radio Plays of 1989, 1990).

She lives in County Derry, is a member of Aosdána and her novels have been published in many countries.

Her novels have been translated into several languages. She has also received the Robert Pitman Award and the Yorkshire Post Award.

The Captains and the Kings Hamilton, 1972
The Gates Hamilton, 1973
How Many Miles to Babylon? Hamilton, 1974
Shadows on our Skin Hamilton, 1977
The Old Jest Hamilton, 1979
The Nightingale and Not the Lark (play) S. French, 1980
The Christmas Tree Hamilton, 1981
Best Radio Plays of 1989 (Giles Cooper Award Winners Series; includes ‘O Ananias, Azarias and Misael’) Methuen/BBC, 1990
The Railway Station Man Hamish Hamilton, 1984
Fool’s Sanctuary Hamish Hamilton, 1987
The Invisible Worm Sinclair-Stevenson, 1991
The Illusionist Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995
Three Monologues (Contents: ‘Twinkletoes’; ‘Mustn’t Forget High Noon’; ‘Christine’) Lagan Press, 1995
The Desert Lullaby: A Play in Two Acts Lagan Press, 1996
Two Moons Review, 1998
The Essential Jennifer Johnston (Contents: ‘The Captains and the Kings’; ‘The Railway Station Man’; ‘Fool’s Sanctuary’) Review, 1999
The Gingerbread Woman Review, 2000
This is not a Novel Review, 2002
Selected Short Plays (Contents: ‘Moonlight and Music’; Mustn’t Forget High Noon’; ‘O Ananias, Azarias and Misael’; ‘The Nightingale and Not the Lark’) New Island, 2003
Grace and Truth Review, 2005
Foolish Mortals Review, 2007
Truth or Fiction Review, 2009
Shadowstory, 2011
Fathers and Son, 2012
A Sixpenny Song, 2013

1972 Evening Standard Award for Best First Novel The Captains and the Kings
1972 Yorkshire Post Book Award (Best First Work) The Captains and the Kings
1977 Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist) Shadows on our Skin
1979 Whitbread Novel Award The Old Jest
1989 Giles Cooper Award (radio play) O Ananias, Azarias and Misael
1992 Daily Express Best Book of the Year Award (shortlist) The Invisible Worm

Frances Molloy


Frances Molloy, or Ann Brady, grew up in Dungiven, County Londonderry. She entered a convent as a novice and trained to be a nun. She participated in the Peoples’ Democracy parade that was attacked at Burntollet Bridge in January 1970.

She achieved recognition for her first novel, No Mate For the Magpie, which was published by Virago. Molloy was recognised as a fresh new voice not just for her distinctive good humoured feminism but for her use of the Derry accent and her transliteration of the regional patois.

Her short stories are collected as Women Are the Scourge of the Earth: Collected Short Stories (Belfast, White Row Press, 1998)

She died in 1991.

Ian Cochrane


Obituary by Maurice Leitch The Guardian, Thursday 23 September 2004

Ian Cochrane, who has died aged 62 from a heart attack, produced a critically acclaimed stream of six unusual, darkly comic novels through the 1970s and early 1980s.
Each title attested to the author’s surreal and mischievous sense of humour, such as Gone In The Head (1975), which was runner-up for the 1974 Guardian Fiction Prize, Jesus On A Stick (1975) and Ladybird In A Loony Bin (1978). His first novel, A Streak Of Madness, was published by Allen Lane when he was 32 and hailed as “the creation of an extraordinarily gifted artist”. Earlier, there were stories in Faber & Faber’s Introductions Four and Penguin Modern Stories.

Born in a two-roomed cottage in a remote, rural part of Mid-Antrim, Ian and his three brothers and a sister, like most others at that period in Ulster, went through some lean and hungry times. However, as he often said, it gave him a taste for writing; it also provided an abundance of source material for his work, most of which is set in that territory of one-street villages, pub back-rooms and country roads after dark where burgeoning sexuality and crazed evangelism come together in a heady mix. No wonder his favourite writers were William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor.

At 14, he left school and two years later his grandfather - perhaps his closest family tie - died, and he suffered a severe illness which caused him total sensory deprivation. During this time, he learned to read and write in braille, and when his senses were restored he had to learn to walk again.

In 1959 he arrived in London, where for a brief period, because of his poor eyesight, he trained as a piano tuner, followed by jobs including working with drug addicts, cleaning flats, as a lift attendant and at the Ministry of Public Buildings.

Shortly after this, he became a full-time writer. Literary life in London seemed far more intimate, more manageably sociable then, shuttling as we did between the Museum Tavern to meet Tim O’Keefe and Martin Green at the publishers MacGibbon & Kee, then to the George in Mortimer Street to ingest some BBC hospitality.

By this time Ian had become an instantly recognisable figure on the London scene, sporting long flowing woollen scarves and a tiny child-sized seafaring cap, nimble and neat-footed in his flamenco dancer’s shoes.

In 1972 he and Maggie Ogilvy were married, and for a time lived in the tiny Kent village of Goodneston, but the big city seemed to be his natural adult habitat.

After their parting, they remained close friends, while Charlotte Manicom, Maggie’s daughter, became like the one he never had himself. But then everyone who came to know Ian felt the same protective regard for the neat little man in the sailor’s cap who made every celebration and occasion so joyous with his sayings, his songs and recitations, and above all his droll, salty take on life.

From: Ian Cochrane: Obituary Independent

Novelist of dark humour and tragic endings
Saturday, 18 September 2004

On one occasion, in 1987, he was in Oxford Street underground station late at night when he saw a group of eight to ten men beating up two others:
They were punching and kicking one in particular, really laying into him. There were a lot of other people around but everyone else was just letting it happen. They probably would have killed that bloke if I hadn’t stepped in.
The rewards for his public-spirited intervention were severe and lasting injuries, which badly affected his ability to write and caused him to become involved in protracted and largely fruitless proceedings with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
His resilience kept him going despite ill-health and increasing blindness, and he continued to write novels even when a change in the climate of publishing made it increasingly difficult to get anyone to take on anything quirky and original.
Though out of print now, all Cochrane’s novels were well received by the critics and there must be a case for bringing some at least of his work back into the public domain.
Paul Magrath

· Ian Cochrane, novelist, born November 7 1941; died September 9 2004

Streak of Madness (Allen Lane 1973)
Gone in the Head (Routledge & Kegan Paul 1974)
Jesus on a Stick (Routledge & Kegan Paul 1975)
F for Ferg (Gollancz 1980)
Ladybird in a Loony Bin (1978)
The Slipstream (David & Charles Publishers 1983)

Martin Lynch


Martin Lynch was born in 1950 and lived in North and West Belfast.

He was inspired by a tour of John Arden’s ‘The Non Stop Connolly Show’ to create a community theatre company, the Turf Lodge Fellowship in 1976. As Writer in Residence at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast in the early eighties, his first professional plays, ‘Dockers’, ‘The Interrogation of Ambrose Fogarty’ and ‘Castles in the Air’ were produced.

He co-founded and directed the Community Arts Forum, an umbrella body promoting the sector and now manages his company, GBL Productions.

He produces and writes to popular acclaim. Notable productions have included ‘The Belfast Carmen’, ‘The History of the Troubles Accordin’ to My Da’ and ‘Dancing Shoes – the George Best Story.’

‘I regret every moment that I believed violence was an option’.
Martin Lynch, Belfast Telegraph 20th August 2007


Christopher Murray, Twentieth Century Irish Theatre: Mirror Up to a Nation; Manchester University Press 1997

Tom Maguire, Making Theatre in Northern Ireland: Through and Beyond the Troubles; University of Exeter Press 2006

Anthony Roche, Contemporary Irish Drama from Beckett to McGuinness; Gill & Macmillan Dublin 1995

Graham Reid


Graham Reid was born in the Donegall Road area of Belfast in 1945 and left school at 15.

As a mature student, he graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 1977 and taught for three years at Gransha Boys High School, Bangor before receiving bursaries from both Arts Councils North and South allowing him to begin a full- time writing career.

His first stage plays were produced by the Abbey Theatre Dublin. ‘The Billy Trilogy’ on stage and television won the Jacobs Award 1984 and ‘Ties of Blood’ won the Royal Television Award for Best Writer in 1986. Other awards include the Harvey Award for ‘The Hidden Curriculum’ and the Michael Powell Award among others for television play, ‘You, Me and Marley’.

‘Reid presents a sub-textual theoretical analysis of the Troubles within a naturalistic framework, which disguises his belief that the Troubles have created a culture within which there is more animal-like than human violence. Physical and psychological damage pile up in plays, which represent Reid’s thesis that sectarianism may be ‘an umbrella for other social deviances’ (Four Irish Dramatists RTE April 1992).


The Death of Humpty Dumpty 1979 Abbey Theatre, Dublin

The Closed Door 1980 Abbey Theatre

Dorothy 1980 Oscar Theatre, Dublin

The Hidden Curriculum 1982 Abbey Theatre

Callers 1985 Abbey Theatre

Too Late to Talk to Billy 1982 Television

A Matter of Choice for Billy 1983 Television

A Coming to Terms for Billy 1984 Television

Lengthening Shadows 1995 Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Love 1995 West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, UK

Remembrance 1984 Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Ties Of Blood 1985 Television


Tom Maguire, Making Theatre in Northern Ireland: Through and Beyond the Troubles Pub; University of Exeter Press 2006
Anthony Roche, Contemporary Irish Drama from Beckett to McGuinness Pub; Gill & Macmillan Dublin 1995
Christopher Murray, Twentieth Century Irish Theatre: Mirror Up to a Nation Pub; Manchester University Press 1997

Christopher Murray, Recent Irish Drama Ed., Heinz Kosok Studies in Anglo Irish Literature, Bonn 1982
D.E.S. Maxwell, Northern Ireland’s Political Drama in Modern Drama Vol. XXX111, No.1 March 1990 and A Critical History of Modern Irish Drama 1891-1980 Cambridge University press, 1984
Christopher Murray, The Hidden Curriculum, Theatre Ireland, No.1 1982
Fintan O’Toole, Paddy Woodworth in same.
Lionel Pilkington, Violence and Identity in Northern Ireland; Graham Reid’s The Death of Humpty Dumpty Modern Drama Vol. XXX!!! No.1 March 1990
Lynda Henderson The Green Shoot in Eds. Gerald Dawe and Edna Longley, Across a Roaring Hill, The Protestant Imagination in Modern Ireland, Blackstaff Press Belfast 1985
Jane Coyle Striking a Head Above the Theatrical Parapet Irish Times August 27 1995
All reviews held by producing venues

Gary Mitchell


Born in 1965, Gary Mitchell lived in the Rathcoole Estate on the outskirts of Belfast.

He left school at 16 and had a temporary clerical career within the Civil Service before working on an Arts Council Youth and Community Drama Scheme.

His first work, ‘The World, the Flesh and the Devil’ won the BBC Radio Drama Young Playwrights Festival 1991 and other awards include the 1994 Stewart Parker Award for ‘Independent Voice’, his first stage play with Tinderbox Theatre Company.

Following productions of ‘In a Little World of Our Own’ and ‘As the Beast Sleeps’ at the Peacock, Abbey Theatre, Dublin, Gary Mitchell became Writer in Residence at the National Theatre London 1998.

With commissions for the BBC and RTE as well as stage plays, Gary has won numerous awards including the Pearson Best New Play Award for ‘Trust’, the George Devine Award and the Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award. Mitchell left Rathcoole in 2005 following internal Loyalist feuds.

“Rathcoole is a Loyalist stronghold, and the paramilitaries have a huge influence there. They’re always warring with each other.
The Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force don’t like each other even though they’re both Protestant, so they fight over the area because it would be a huge success to monopolize it, but they can’t because there’s too many people.

And not everybody supports paramilitaries, but the paramilitaries are the reason why Rathcoole is a safe place to live.

The kind of crimes you have there are [politically motivated] murder and punishment beatings. Is this a good thing or is this a bad thing? That’s what my plays are about: Do you think this is right or do you think this is wrong? With that as a sort of backdrop, the human story comes through.”

Gary Mitchell in Interview Back Stage West 28 October 1999

Theatre Plays:

Demented (2014), Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Forget Turkey (We’re going to Phuket Again) (2013) with Dan Gordon and Colin Murphy, Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Forget Turkey (We’re going to Phuket this Christmas) (2012) with Dan Gordon and Colin Murphy, Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Love Matters (2012) Aisling Ghear, Belfast

Suicide Blonde (2010) Old Red Lion, London

Remnants of Fear (2005) Dubbeljoint, Belfast

Loyal Women (2003) Royal Court Downstairs, London

The Force of Change (2000) Royal Court Upstairs/Downstairs, London

Marching On (2000) Lyric, Belfast

Holding Cell (2000) Tinderbox, Belfast

Energy (1999) Playhouse, Londonderry

Trust (1999) Royal Court Upstairs, London

Tearing the Loom (1998) Lyric, Belfast

As the Beast Sleeps (1998) Peacock, Dublin

In a Little World of Our Own (1997) Peacock, Dublin’

Sinking (1997) Replay, Belfast

That Driving Ambition (1995) Replay, Belfast

Alternative Future (1994) Point Fields, Belfast

Independent Voice (1993) Tinderbox, Belfast

Radio Plays:

Fighting Cowardice (2014) RTE Radio 1

Ulster Volunteers (2014) RTE Radio 1

Loves Worst Day (2013) BBC Radio 4

Babies (2012) RTÉ Radio 1

Freedom of Poverty (2011) RTÉ Radio 1

Ian Really Likes Mary (2010) RTÉ Radio 1

Echoes of War (2009) BBC Radio 3

Forgotten People Part Two (2009) RTÉ Radio 1

Forgotten People Part One (2009) RTÉ Radio 1

Just ‘Cause (2008) RTÉ Radio 1

Loyal Women (2003) BBC Radio 4

The Force of Change (2002) BBC Radio 4

As the Beast Sleeps (2001) BBC Radio 4

At the Base of the Pyramid (1997) BBC Radio 4

Drumcree (1996) BBC Radio 4

Dividing Force Episode Three: Useless Tools (1995) BBC Radio 4

Dividing Force Episode Two: Raising the Standard (1995) BBC Radio 4

Dividing Force Episode One: Above the Law (1995) BBC Radio 4

Stranded (1995) BBC Radio 3

Mandarin Lime (1995)with Jimmy Murphy BBC Radio 3

Poison Hearts (1994) BBC Radio 4

Independent Voice (1993) BBC Radio 4

A Tearful of Dreams (1993) BBC Radio 4

The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1991) BBC Radio 4


Suffering (2003) Writer/Director

As the Beast Sleeps (2002) BBC 2

An Officer From France (1998) RTÉ 1

Made in Heaven (1996) BBC Education

Theatre Awards:

Aisling Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts and Culture (2006) Remnants of Fear

Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright (2000) The Force of Change

Joint winner George Divine Award (2000) The Force of Change

Pearson Best New Play Award (1999) Trust

Belfast Arts Drama Award (1998) Sinking

Belfast Arts Drama Award (1998) In a Little World of Our Own

Irish Times Best New Play Award (1997) In a Little World of Our Own

Film Awards:

Belfast Arts Award for Best Film (2002) As the Beast Sleeps

Best Short Film, Belfast Film Festival (2003) Suffering


Irish Times, 9th May 2009, Interview with Gary Mitchell

Margaret Llewellyn-Jones Contemporary Irish Drama and Cultural Identity, Pub; Intellect Books 2002

Tom Maguire, Making Theatre in Northern Ireland; Through and Beyond the Troubles, Pub; University of Exeter Press 2006

Christopher Murray, Twentieth Century Irish Drama, Pub; Manchester University Press 1997

Newsletter, June 9th 2000, Gary marches …on

Belfast News, June 8th 2000, Gary stomps..

The Sunday Times 11th June 2000, Spotlight turns to orange

Other reviews held by Producing venues, The Abbey Theatre, Dublin, Lyric Theatre and Tinderbox Theatre Company, Belfast and Royal Court, London.

Eamon McCann, Don’t Get Even, Get Angry, programme As the Beast Sleeps, Abbey Theatre Dublin 1998

Marie Jones


Marie Jones was born in East Belfast and as an actress worked with James Young at the Group Theatre before co-founding Charabanc Theatre Company in 1983.

She co-wrote the company’s first play, Lay Up Your Ends and then produced new work from community research with Charabanc on an annual basis until 1990.
The productions toured to the USA, Russia and Europe as well as UK and Irish tours, receiving acclaim and media coverage of Charabanc as a women’s company from Northern Ireland.

She co-founded DubbelJoint Productions with whom, A Night in November and adaptation, A Government Inspector toured Ireland and to London’s Tricycle Theatre.
Women on the Verge of HRT has won popular success and as A Night in November, has been often revived and produced by managements internationally.

Jones has written for other independent theatre companies and has often been commissioned by BBC NI.

Her best-known work is Stones in His Pockets, which transferred from Belfast to London’s West End and Broadway as well as having been produced internationally.

Jones won Evening Standard Award for Best West End Comedy, an Olivier Award, and Irish Times Award (Best Production) for Stones, while its actors were awarded Tonys (US).

Dr Jones has received Honorary PhDs from the University of Ulster and Queen’s University, Belfast and other awards. She is married to actor/director Ian McElhinney

“As an actress I always wanted to perform in plays, which replicated the people I knew, which, seemed relevant to me and the people around me. A familiar idiom and relevance to culture in Northern Ireland as opposed to that of London or wherever has always been important. I do not think that this is parochial, except in Patrick Kavanagh’s terms which define ‘parochial’ as a positive in knowing and representing the minutiae which differentiates cultures and lives.

My early days with Charabanc were possibly more about ‘penning’ scripts on which we would improvise towards a honing process and even experiment in performance. I learnt a craft from necessity, from our process and with engagement with many wonderful natural storytellers within communities. Then I gained confidence to write my own imaginative communities and characters together with cultures, histories, settings and dilemmas. While ‘The Troubles’ has been a backdrop my focus has always been on the remarkable ingenuity, which allows survival, humour and fulfillment in the midst of injustice and hardship.”

Selected Works:

Now You’re Talkin’ 1985

Somewhere Over the Balcony 1988

The Government Inspector 1993

A Night In November 1994

Women On The Verge Of HRT 1995

Stones In His Pockets 1999

The Blind Fiddler 2004

A Very Weird Manor 2005

Rock Doves 2010

Dancing Shoes: The George Best Story 2010

Fly Me To The Moon 2012

Mistletoe and Crime 2014


Anthony Roche, Contemporary Irish Drama from Beckett to McGuinness Pub; Gill & Macmillan Dublin 1995

Imelda Foley, The Girls in the Big Picture: Gender in Contemporary Ulster Theatre Pub; The Blackstaff Press Belfast 2003

Christopher Murray, Twentieth Century Irish Theatre: Mirror Up to a Nation Pub; Manchester University Press 1997

Tom Maguire, Making Theatre in Northern Ireland: Through and Beyond the Troubles Pub; University of Exeter Press 2006

Anna McMullan, Irish Women Playwrights since 1958 in eds. Trevor R. Griffiths and Margaret Llewllyn-Jones, British and Irish Women Dramatists since 1958 Pub; Open University Press 1993

Stewart Parker


Stewart Parker was born in East Belfast in 1941 and educated at Queen’s University Belfast.

His first play, Spokesong was a hit at the Dublin Theatre Festival, 1975 and then played the West End and Broadway winning an Evening Standard award in 1976. Catchpenny Twist, Nightshade, Pratt’s Fall and Heavenly Bodies followed with the Lyric Theatre, Belfast commissioning Northern Star in 1984. Stewart’s last stage play, Pentecost was commissioned by Field Day Theatre Company, Derry in 1987 and won the Harvey’s Irish Theatre Award.

Award winning work for television includes I’m a Dreamer, Montreal, and the series Lost Belongings, broadcast by ITV and Channel Four in 1987.

Stewart Parker died at the age of 47, on November 2nd 1988, and his work and inspiration has been commemorated by the Stewart Parker Trust, founded by John Fairleigh and working to promote emerging playwrights in Ireland, North and South. For Parker’s twentieth anniversary, 2008 the School of Drama, Queen’s University Belfast and the Stewart Parker Trust staged a week of events at the Belfast Festival to commemorate his life and work.

If Stewart Parker lived today his plays would guide us well into the twenty first century.

In the 70’s he was decades ahead of his time advocating a green life in opposition to urban renewal, the demolition of indigenous communities to make way for the Westlink road traffic system.

In Spokesong, Parker’s first play, the metaphor of the history of the bicycle serves as a reminder of tradition, of creativity and invention and of individual and communal opposition to bureaucracies which overrule lives.

In writing well educated young lives trying to make an ordinary living in a bicycle shop (Spokesong), or writing ballads for both sides of the Troubles’ divide in Catchpenny Twist, or just being a novice social worker in Iris in the Traffic Ruby in the Rain, Parker captures the impact of sectarian life threats and targeted or random violence which sent a young professional class from Belfast to Dublin and London.

His understated portrayals of Northern Ireland’s social dysfunction and political wrongdoings form an important historical commentary, one pertinent to the Troubles.

Parker’s introduction to his three last plays, Northern Star Heavenly Bodies and Pentecost summarises his informing culture:

‘The ancestral wraiths at my own elbow are (amongst other things) Scots-Irish, Northern English, immigrant Huguenot…in short the usual Belfast mongrel crew, who have contrived between them to entangle me in the whole Irish-British cat’s cradle and thus bequeath to me a subject for drama which is comprised of multiplying dualities: two Irelands, two Ulsters, two men fighting over a field’.

Parker captures the impact of sectarian life threats and targeted or random violence which sent a young professional class from Belfast to Dublin and London. His understated portrayals of Northern Ireland’s social dysfunction and political wrongdoings form an important historical commentary, one pertinent to the Troubles.

List of Works:

Stewart Parker: Television [Lost Belongings; Radio Pictures; Blue Money; Iris in the Traffic, Ruby in the Rain; Joyce in June; I’m a Dreamer Montreal], edited by Clare Wallace (Prague: Litteraria Pragensia, 2008
Stewart Parker High Pop, The Irish Times column 1970-1976 Ed. Gerald Dawe and Maria Johnston, Lagan Press Belfast 2008
Dramatis Personae and Other Writings Ed Gerald Dawe, Maria Johnston and Clare Wallace, Litteraria Pregensia Prague 2008
3 Plays for Ireland Pub; Oberon London 1989
Plays 1 Introduced by Lynne Parker, Methuen London 2001
Plays 2 Introduced by Stephen Rea, Methuen London 2002
Catchpenny Twist Abbey Theatre Peacock Dublin1977
Heavenly Bodies Birmingham Repertory Theatre 1986
Kingdom Come King’s Head London 1978
Nightshade Abbey Theatre Peacock Dublin 1980
Northern Star Lyric Theatre Belfast 1984
Pentecost Field Day Theatre Company Derry 1987
Pratt’s Fall Tron Theatre Glasgow 1983
Spokesong Dublin Theatre Festival 1975
Tall Girls Have Everything Actors Theatre of London 1980
The Actress and the Bishop King’s Head London 1976


Biography of Stewart Parker by Marilyn Richtarik will be published 2010
Papers from leading academics delivered to the Stewart Parker Conference, School of Drama, Queen’s University Belfast November 2008 from Dr Mark Phelan at QUB on
Tom Maguire, Making Theatre in Northern Ireland; Through and Beyond the Troubles Pub; University of Exeter Press 2006
Anthony Roche, Contemporary Irish Drama from Beckett to McGuinness, Gill & Macmillan Dublin 1995
Christopher Murray, Twentieth Century Irish Theatre: Mirror Up to a Nation, Manchester University Press 1997
Thomas Kilroy, From Farquar to Parker, Marilyn Richtarik, Stewart Parker and Northern Star, Luke Gibbons, The Harp Re-Strung: The United Irishmen and Cultural Politics, Seamus Deane
Programme Northern Star, Tinderbox and Field Day Theatre Companies 1998
Glenn Patterson, The Parker Project, The Guardian 13 June 2008
Michael Foley, 3 Poems for Stewart, Autumn Beguiles the Fatalist, Blackstaff Press Belfast 2006

Mary Costello


Mary Costello was born in west Belfast in 1955 into a Catholic, working-class family. She grew up in Andersonstown, an IRA stronghold, and experienced first hand the outbreak of the Troubles. She now lives in Australia.

Mary Costello wrote of women seeking to end the Troubles, by arguing against the need for violence and demonstrating the burden it imposed on working class neighbourhoods.

Mary Beckett


Mary Beckett was born in Belfast in 1926. She began writing short stories when she was 23, first for BBC radio and then for literary magazines in Dublin, Cork and Belfast. In 1980 Poolbeg Press in Ireland brought out a collection of her short stories, A Belfast Woman. In 1987 Bloomsbury published her first novel, Give them Stones, which has also appeared in America through Beech Tree/William Morrow. Beech Tree have also published A Belfast Woman.

Her next collection for Bloomsbury was A Literary Woman, described by the Sunday Times as “a striking collection… immensely effective”. She has also written children’s books, including A Family Tree [Poolbeg Press] and Hannah, or the Pink Balloons [Marino].

Mary Beckett’s work explores human struggles against the backdrop of the Troubles and pays respect to survival in the domestic realm.

Collected Works
Her stories are collected as A Belfast Woman (Dublin, Poolbeg, 1980/New York, William Morrow, Beechtree Books, 1998); and A Literary Woman (London, Bloomsbury, 1990).

Give Them Stones (Bloomsbury, 1987/New York, Beechtree Books, 1987).

Children’s Books
Orla was Six (Poolbeg Press, 1989, illustrated by Carol Betera); Orla at School (Poolbeg Press, 1991, illustrated by Carol Betera); A Family Tree (Poolbeg Press, 1992, illustrated by Ann Kennedy); and Hannah, or the Pink Balloons (Cork, Marino Books, 1995).

The Sunday Tribute Arts Award for Literature (1987)

Mary Beckett died in November 2013

Robert McLiam Wilson


Robert McLiam Wilson (born 1964 in Belfast) is a Northern Irish novelist. He studied at University of Cambridge. However he dropped out, and for a short time was homeless. This period of his life profoundly affected his later life and influenced his works.

McLiam Wilson has written three novels; Ripley Bogle (1989), Manfred’s Pain (1992) and Eureka Street (1996). Ripley Bogle is a novel about a homeless man in London. It won the Rooney Prize and the Hughes Prize in 1989, and a Betty Trask Award and the Irish Book Award in 1990. Eureka Street focuses on the lives of two Belfast friends, one Catholic and one Protestant, shortly before and after the IRA ceasefires in 1994. A BBC TV adaptation of Eureka Street was broadcast in 1999. He is also the author of a non-fiction book about poverty, The Dispossessed (1992), and has made television documentaries for the BBC.

Ripley Bogle, André Deutsch, 1989
Manfred’s Pain, Picador, 1992
The Dispossessed (with Donovan Wylie), Picador, 1992
Eureka Street, Secker & Warburg, 1996

Prizes and awards
1989 Hughes Prize, Ripley Bogle
1989 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, Ripley Bogle
1990 Betty Trask Prize, Ripley Bogle
1990 Irish Book Award Ripley Bogle
1997 Belfast Arts Award for Literature, Eureka Street
1997 Irish Times International Fiction Prize (shortlist), Eureka Street
1997 Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Fiction (shortlist), Eureka Street
1998 UNESCO Prize (France), Eureka Street