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The 'Gathering of the Gales' Festival Hailed an Enormous Success

on .

Reconciliation through the Riverine – Developing Cross-Community and Cross-Border Relationships

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Organisers of ‘The Gathering of The Gales’ were delighted to welcome hundreds of brass and wind musicians to take part in the festival, which was hailed as an enormous success. Over two days, audiences from Donegal, Tyrone and further afield were treated to a musical extravaganza featuring everything from jazz, big band tunes, hymns and marches.

 

 

The cross-border event, which took place at the Alley Theatre in Strabane on September 6th and 7th, saw musicians from Lifford and Strabane come together with some of Ireland’s finest bands and performers to celebrate their musical heritage. The celebration was part of the ‘Reconciliation through the Riverine’ project funded by the International Fund for Ireland through its Leaving a Legacy Programme and was a key highlight of this year’s wider North West Music Festival.

 

In the run up to the official launch on Friday, young musicians from Strabane and Lifford came together to hone their musical skills by playing and singing with established professional musicians as part of a ‘Come and Play Workshop.’ This was followed by a brass band parade from Lifford to Strabane and a truly memorable concert in the Alley Theatre, where those involved in the day’s workshop performed to a full house.

 

On Saturday morning, 15 brass bands received a very warm welcome as they paraded through Strabane Town Centre to the Alley Theatre. Throughout the afternoon and into the evening, the audience was treated to a fun, family day out – enjoying new musical arrangements across two stages in the Alley Courtyard. The festival concluded later that night with an outdoor concert by the North West Concert Ensemble – a mix of local professional musicians coming together from all over Ireland.

 

‘Reconciliation through the Riverine’

‘Reconciliation through the Riverine’ project seeks to address the impact of the conflict on the Strabane/Lifford area and its hinterlands through a dedicated programme of reconciliation addressing issues such as sectarianism, promoting equality and embracing diversity.

 

The project focuses on both youth and wider community participation. The youth participation strand is aimed at addressing sectarianism by strengthening relationships between young people from different communities and across the border. The wider community participation strand is aimed at delivering a range of ongoing community-based projects that will build positive relations at a cross-community and cross-border level.

 

A key element in the delivery of this programme is the Riverine Forum with representation from the diverse range of community interests in the area.  The forum is a key driving force in the development of this project and provides a platform to facilitate contact, dialogue and reconciliation amongst the diverse range of communities that live in this area. 

 

Speaking at the launch on Friday evening, Dr Adrian Johnston, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said that ‘The Gathering of The Gales’ is a powerful example of communities coming together with the aim of fostering greater cross-community ties and promoting reconciliation – which is particularly significant when considering how musical instruments have symbolised division in the past.

 

“The Fund is committed to the work of building positive relations between the two main communities on the island of Ireland. That is why we are proud to be associated with the Reconciliation through the Riverine project,” said Dr Johnston. “We believe this project will have a very positive impact for reconciliation in Donegal-Tyrone and what better way to showcase the great work being done by the project than by bringing musicians from both communities together for an inspiring celebration as part of this year’s North West Music Festival.”

 

Dr Johnston also expressed a collective thanks to the international donors who have supported the work of the International Fund for Ireland for more than twenty-five years: namely, the United States of America, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

 

Eamonn Browne, Project Coordinator, said:  “The ‘Gathering of the Gales’ is yet another success story within the wider Reconciliation through the Riverine project. Music was identified by the Riverine Forum as an important medium to promote peace and reconciliation in the area and I believe the success of the festival acknowledges this and will leave a lasting legacy. As Project Coordinator it was great to speak to musicians, families and visitors who were all enjoying the events and it is testimony to the people of Strabane and Lifford as to what can be achieved through collaboration.”

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 Click here to download press release