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Celebration event caps major Donegal-based cross-community project

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Celebration event caps major Donegal-based cross-community project

 

014Music, dancing and storytelling were just part of the celebrations at the Balor Arts Centre tonight for a major Donegal-based cross-community relations project.

 

Supported by the International Fund for Ireland under its Integrating Communities Programme, the East Meets West Donegal Project worked to support peace building activities and foster cultural understanding between the West Donegal Gaeltacht and the East Donegal Ulster Scots.

 

The celebration programme included a shared history conference, with speakers including Dr. Brian Lacey, Dr. Éamon Phoenix and Mary Lynch from Mediation Northern Ireland. The closing concert saw comedian Kevin McAleer take to stage, as well as renowned Irish language choir Cór Taobh a’ Leithid, fiddle player Bríd Harper and highland dancer Georgina Kee.

 

Through the East Meets West Donegal Project, Ionad an Mhahaire in Maghery, Dungloe and The Ulster Scots Heritage and Education Centre in Monreagh, Carrigans worked together and within their communities to raise awareness and understanding of the two diverse and yet interconnected cultural identities in the county.

 

It used music, storytelling, dance and language workshops as well as heritage and tourism activities to build important cross-community bridges and offer the communities new ways to connect with each other.

 

International Fund for Ireland board member Winston Patterson said: “Ground breaking projects which develop community relations and reconciliation such as this are at the forefront of the International Fund for Ireland’s work. The collaboration between both organisations is a model that others can look to replicate.

 

“By bringing people from both traditions together as part of an activities based programme, the initiative has been tremendously successful in fostering greater interaction among participants and teaching the benefits of working together to achieve results. We believe this project will continue to have a very positive impact for good relations and promoting greater cross-community links in the area. I look forward to seeing the relationships between the groups continue to flourish.”

 

Maria Coleman from Ionad an Mhachaire said:

“Through our East Meets West Donegal Project the groups have built strong relationships with their neighbours and gained the confidence to address some of the sensitive issues that can cause tensions in their communities. Participants have been able to develop personally and communally through engagement with arts activities that allow them to celebrate, learn about and respect each other’s cultural identities.  Oftentimes initial engagement with music, storytelling or dance has lead the way to meaningful dialogue on aspects of our shared history.

 

“Participants have told us that our project has given them great insight into other traditions and that they now understand more about their neighbour. The groups involved have invested a lot of time and effort to build new understandings and it is my hope that the friendships developed through this project will continue.”

 

Tracy People from East Donegal Ulster Scots said:

“I would like to acknowledge the generous support we’ve received from the International Fund for Ireland for this project – the benefits of which will continue to be felt and seen in the local community long after the programme finishes.” 

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Click here to download press release