National Famine Commemoration Date Announced
This year’s National Famine Commemoration will be held in Milford, Co. Donegal, on Sunday, May 21.
The commemoration will be broadcasted on RTÉ News Now channel.
“The National Famine Commemoration is a special opportunity for the current generation to acknowledge the suffering, death, and anguish borne by the Irish people during that darkest time of our history,” Minister Catherine Martin said, when she made the announcement on Thursday, Feb. 23.
Martin, who is Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, continued: “It is appropriate that the event will take place on the old site of the Milford workhouse, given the adversity endured by the people of Donegal in the face of poverty, hunger, and emigration throughout the Great Famine and the 19th century.” The minister, who is also the Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, added: “The Commemoration will reflect on this momentous event in Irish history and remember all those who suffered as a result of An Gorta Mór.
Derry Girls Favorite Lands Leading Role in Irish Play
Kathy Kiera Clarke, who played Aunt Sarah in the internationally beloved sitcom Derry Girls, was cast for the leading role of Claire in Eugene O’Hare’s new play with an all-female cast, The Dry House.
Premiering at the Marylebone Theatre in London next month, the play is described as a “darkly comic redemptive play about love, loss and the possibility of hope after years of self-destruction”, according to The Irish Post.
The Dry House follows sisters Claire (Clarke) and Chrissy, played by Mairead McKinley, as they navigate their dysfunctional family, riddled with alcoholism, and seek to break the cycle.
Critically acclaimed actress Carla Langley will play Chrissy’s daughter, Heather.
“In Kathy Kiera Clarke, Mairead McKinley and Carla Langley we have a powerful cast of actors whose work I greatly admire, a fine group of fast-emerging young designers including Irish scenographer Niall McKeever, and a terrific production and stage management team – most of whom I have worked with as an actor,” O’Hare told the Irish Post.
The Dry House will run from Friday, March 31, until Saturday, May 6, at the Marylebone Theatre in London.
Trinity College Dublin Will Return 13 Skulls to Inishbofin
In 1890, ethnologist Alfred Cort Haddon and student Andrew Francis Dixon took 13 skulls and skeletal remains from St. Colman’s monastery on the remote Island of Inishbofin.
For the last 130 years, the remains have been stored at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), where Dixon later became a Professor of Anatomy.
But as of February 22, TCD announced the remains would be returned to the island off the coast of Galway in cooperation with the Inishbofin community to deliver the remains appropriately.
“I am sorry fo the upset caused by our retaining of these remains and I thank the Inishbofin community for their advocacy and engagement with us on this issue,” said TCD Provost Dr. Linda Doyle.
“We will now work with the community to ensure that the remains are returned respectfully and in accordance with the community’s wishes,” Dr. Doyle continued.
According to Haddon’s diaries of his time in Inishbofin, he and Dixon did not get the community’s permission before taking the remains to the university. The duo likely took the remains to study the booming interest of craniometry and anthropometry.
“I want to thank everyone who engaged with the process that we have put in place to address issues of this nature,” Dr. Doyle said, adding, “I am glad that we have made an evidence-based decision and that our process allowed all points of view to be heard.”
An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) Shows in New York
The Angelika Film Center in Manhattan is hosting Q&A sessions with the director and filmmaker of IFTA-award winning and Oscar and BAFTA-nominated film An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl), Colm Bairéad.
A Q&A session will be held on Saturday, 2/25, following the 7:40 pm show with Colm Bairéad and actors Carrie Crowley (Eibhlín Cinnsealach) and Andrew Bennett (Seán Cinnsealach.)
An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) made its U.S. premiere at the Angelika Film Center in New York City on December 16, 2022, before going on wider release nationwide.
Within five days of its American premiere, the film was shortlisted for an Oscar in the Best International Feature Film category and nominated formally weeks after.
The film will be screening through at least March 2 at the Angelika Film Center.
Tickets and further information about An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) at the Angelika Film Center can be found here.
Paul Mescal Gives Interview in Irish at the BAFTAs
Dublin native Paul Mescal surprised his fans by speaking in Irish (as Gaeilge) at The British Academy Film Awards, more commonly known as the BAFTAs, on February 19 in London.
Mescal, 27, nominated for his role in Aftersun, was walking the red carpet when he stopped to chat to TG4’s (Irish language station) Caitlín Nic Aoidh who opened the conversation in Irish. Mescal, who just recently had wrongly been identified as British by the BBC, seemed taken by surprise but he gamely answered in Irish praising his Aftersun co-star Frankie Corio.
He also praised Colm Bairéad’s Irish language film, An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl), which was also nominated for a BAFTA, giving high compliments to the director, and mentioned that the film has inspired him to make an Irish-language film, according to Irish Central. His two-minute interaction with Nic Aoidh has been viewed over a million times on twitter and has set off a conversation across Ireland and other places about the status of the language.
Catherine Clinch, star of An Cailín Ciúin, also gave an Irish language interview on the red carpet.
Neither Mescal nor An Cailín Ciúin won a BAFTA in their respective categories, but The Banshees of Inisherin stars Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan took home Best Supporting Actress and Actor awards for their outstanding performances in the hit film.
“I know last night was a big Irish night at the BAFTAs for Banshees,” one Twitter user said, “but let’s not forget Paul Mescal speaking in our native language.”
(Sidebar): According to Gary Goldstein writing in the Los Angels Times on the upcoming Academy Awards:, “A quarter of this year’s acting nominees are Irish.”
Trevor Birney’s New Book Quinn Launches in Manhattan
A great night was had by all at the launch of Trevor Birney’s book Quinn at Rosie O’Grady’s Manhattan Club in New York City on Thursday evening.
Birney, an award-winning film producer, director and journalist (No Stone Unturned, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God ) was joined by fellow Northern Ireland native Aidan Dunbar, actor, director and singer (films: Hear My Song, Ashes to Ashes) in a Q&A session moderated by Irish Echo editor Ray O’Hanlon.
Quinn chronicles the rise and fall of Séan Quinn, who left school at 11 and was a millionaire at 30, having created thousands of jobs in his home country of Fermanagh, where he is revered.
By the early 2000s, his estimated worth was in the billions. Still, by 2011 Quinn, the single biggest loser in the 2008 global financial crisis, was bankrupt and had lost control of his business empire, which passed into the hands of The Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).
For those present at the launch who had yet to read Quinn, the author and the actor, prompted by questions from O’Hanlon and audience members, provided an insightful look at the man. Dunbar described him as a King Lear-like character who valued loyalty over all. He pictured him looking out from his house on the hill over the vast vista that he has created and doesn’t own anymore. Yet, the jobs are still there. The executives he put in place are still there. “It’s a tragedy. He’s a hero of ours,” he said.
Dunbar and Birney grew up in Enniskillen, about 20 miles from Quinn. “He was an incredible, mythical character in the heart of the world that we grew up in,” Birney said. “This industrial complex that he had built along the border that employed 7000 people at one stage was making a huge amount of a huge contribution to the wealth in the county, to employment in the county.”
Not only was Quinn offering the locals jobs, but he was also searching out young talented people who had left the area and bringing them back home. “He was offering them careers and life and opportunities that their fathers, mothers and grandparents had never thought they would find on the Irish border.” Why, then did he fail? Was it hubris, was it greed, was it pride? And why was he allowed to fail? Was it because he was an independently-minded figure who didn’t play the game with corrupt politicians, and when he needed help, he not did get it?
“It’s a story for our times,” Dunbar said, congratulating Birney on the book, saying it’s even-handed and journalism at its best. “One thing is for sure,” Birney said, “There was a real positivity and an incredible sense of pride in what this guy had done for the area because the governments in Dublin and London had done nothing. The area had been given over as an economic wasteland, and this one man changed that. So when you start to write a story like that, it writes itself, and there is plenty of story in it.” Hardly.
Birney put five years of work into a three-part documentary series called ‘Quinn Country’ for RTE, and turning that massive amount of research material and interviews into a book was no easy task. “I’m a documentary filmmaker. That’s what I spend my time doing, actually writing on [this level] is something I’ve not done for a long, long time. So it was pretty challenging and pretty scary.” But it was worth it. The documentary aired on RTE in December to great acclaim just as the book was being launched by Merrion Press and it quickly became a bestseller. If the reception Birney received in New York is anything to go by, Quinn will soon be topping the best-seller in the U.S. a well – P.H.
Tourism Ireland Hosts ‘Sound Out Belfast’ Showcase
Belfast, the UNESCO City of Music, was spotlighted in New York and Boston this week at events in both cities organized by Tourism Ireland. Singers / songwriters Joshua Burnside, Winnie Ama, and Andrea Magee, performed as did the the acclaimed Belfast band New Pagans.
Tourism Ireland, in collaboration with industry partners from Visit Belfast, Historic Royal Palaces, Adams & Butler, Taste and Tour NI, and Titanic Belfast, held B2B workshops and networking sessions to promote Belfast and update guests on the culture, hospitality, and experiences in Northern Ireland.
Each event featured a five-artist special ‘Sound Out Belfast’ music showcase hosted by Belfast-born actress Tara Lynne O’Neill (Ma Mary from Derry Girls) and curated by Emmy-nominated composer Hannah Peel, who composed and recorded the soundtrack for Game of Thrones: The Last Watch.
“Tourism Ireland was delighted to support this showcase of Belfast – celebrating the city’s status as a UNESCO City of Music and reminding our travel trade and media guests about the many great reasons for U.S. travelers to visit Belfast and Northern Ireland this year,” said Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s Head of North America.
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