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‘Between the jigs and marches’ – Sligo Fleadh, Peace and Reconciliation Project

on .

IFI Fleadh Image2web

Musicians and community representatives from both traditions came together in Sligo on Sunday (9th August) for the launch of ‘Between the Jigs and the Marches’ – a cross-border musical celebration in association with Fleadh Cheoil 2015. Funded by the International Fund for Ireland, the project forms a distinct element of this year’s Fleadh and aims to enhance peace and reconciliation by exploring the connections between Ulster Scots and traditional Irish musical traditions as well as their influences on culture and identity.

 

The peace initiative includes an exciting mix of free performances, sessions, lectures and exhibitions linking musicians, artists and historians across the border and across different musical traditions. All the events are designed to stimulate conversation, increase knowledge of differing traditions and connect people through their love of music.

The initiative sees a range of bands coming together to play on the streets of Sligo, including Fermanagh’s Churchill Silver Band performing with the Sligo Concert Band. This is the first year for the Churchill Silver Band to perform at the Fleadh. As part of its continuing commitment to promote musical collaboration across the two traditions, the band’s work with the Sligo Concert Band allows it to broaden its musical repertoire while strengthening its cross border relationships.

The ‘Between the Jigs and the Marches’ project has seen new music specially composed by Fermanagh’s Stephen Crooks and Sligo’s Michael Hurley to celebrate the musical heritage of Scotland and Ireland. The initiative also sees the fruits of cross community and cross cultural collaboration between Michael Hurley and his musicians from Ballymote, County Sligo and musicians from the Ulster Scots tradition – creating a truly inspiring cross-cultural musical programme mingling border pipes and bagpipes, the flute, concertina, fiddle, percussion, keyboards, banjo and guitar.

A series of lectures has also been organised looking at the history of the flute, Ulster loyalist bands, community identity in Northern Ireland and the history of Protestants and the Irish language. Historians and authors delivering the lectures include Dr Fintan Vallely, Dr Darach MacDonald, Linda Ervine and Quincy Dougan. A ‘pop up flute museum’ and an exhibition on the ‘marching season’ also feature as part of the programme.

Speaking at the launch event, Dorothy Clarke, Board Member of the International Fund for Ireland, said that the Fund is committed to encouraging increased contact and dialogue between the two traditions through a series of cross-community projects, such as this year’s ‘Between the Jigs and the Marches’ initiative.

“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 this cross cultural collaboration, which we believe will have a very positive impact for reconciliation. And what better way to showcase the great work being done to promote contact and dialogue than by bringing together musicians and local historians from both communities for an inspiring musical celebration as part of this year’s Fleadh”

Bartley Gavin, Chair of the Fleadh Cheoil Executive Committee said: “We are delighted to work with the International Fund for Ireland to bring this important initiative to fruition. It provides a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate the great work being done to encourage communities to work together and share their diverse cultural heritage, particularly through music and song. The project has resonated strongly with participants across both traditions, which is a great achievement when you consider how musical instruments have symbolised division in the past.”