Irish festival fun at the museum

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traditional Irish dancing workshop

The George Ferguson dancers teaching visitors a few moves

Last Saturday World Museum Liverpool played its part in the Liverpool Irish Festival by hosting a special day dedicated to Irish arts. It was a busy, creative and very fun day according to Ann-marie Cassidy from our learning department, who has written the following account of the many activities.

You can see more pictures in a Flickr slideshow of her Irish Festival photos.

"The Liverpool Irish Festival has been running since 2003, when it began as a weekend of traditional Irish folk music. Each year the festival grows in size and now celebrates the special identity of the Liverpool Irish community with an outstanding programme of events and activities throughout the city.

This year, National Museums Liverpool staff worked in partnership with the Liverpool Irish Festival to introduce our visitors to a range of Irish-themed activities and performances. Enthusiastic visitors took part in Celtic art workshops with Holly Langley and explored traditional Irish myths in a singing and drama workshop with Claire Chandler. Our more energetic visitors were treated to a demonstration from the George Ferguson School of Irish Dance, before taking to the floor themselves with the dancers!

The atrium provided the perfect location for a performance from the Knotty Ash Signing Choir, who sang traditional songs with sign language. This was followed by an impressive musical performance involving some traditional Irish instruments. Jarlath Henderson played the Uilleann pipes and I was reliably informed that Uilleann means ‘elbow’. (I imagine this link has something to do with the way the pipes are played!) Jarlath was also joined by John Chandler on guitar and ‘Bones’ Adderley on the Bodráhn, a traditional Irish drum. The group were only asked to play for thirty minutes, but were so well received that they continued playing for nearly an hour!

The final workshop of the day was a poetry workshop with Eddie Bixter. Eddie began by introducing participants to some of the work of Seamus Heany and talked about how lots of the words used were ‘dark’ and ‘earthy’. He then asked the group to think about words that could represent Liverpool, looking at the language we use and talking about well-known buildings, people and places. By combining some of the words, the group created individual lines. These were put together to form one collaborative piece of poetry. The poem is quite abstract, but some of the lines are great! Have a read and see what you think!"

The Liverpool Irish Poem

Crosby rain stone, loving hard ground,
Rhythm cut a house,
Loose stoop rats, radio tower,
Musky, old, echoing path,
Kirkby la la cut out, Everton piled bog,
Irish stubbed clot grit,
Soggy bone, Scouse sods,
Shrill, overhead echoes,
Liverbird flock beneath salt dock fields,
Smug, solid Scousers,
Humming, smudging, minging railway,
Frogs lug splintered,
Sugar hung, thick dark cloud,
Oo-er, dig bush, Playhouse north,
Liverpool sky, cool 2008 hens,
Liverpool Echo, culture club.