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The Finn valley Men's Choir with special guests, Paddy Harte, board member, International Fund for Ireland, Breid Foley, coordinator, Lifford Clonleigh Resource Center, Kathleen Bonner, project manager, Finn Valley Men's project, Mary Moy, programme manager, International Fund for Ireland and Dr. Adrian Johnston, board chairman, International Fund for Ireland.

Art and Song from the Men of Finn Valley

Published on:  07 Nov 2018

The Finn Valley Men’s Project provided a spectacular evening’s entertainment at the official launch of “Finn Valley Men’s Choir” and “Churches through the Lens” art exhibition held in the Alley Theatre, Strabane, Co Tyrone.

The Finn Valley Men’s project is a cross border cross community project run by the Lifford/Clonleigh Resource Centre (LCRC) and funded by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI).   The project supports men to become involved in men’s groups in their own areas with the aim of promoting dialogue between different communities on both sides of the Border. 

The launch of the “Churches through the Lens" Art Exhibition involved more than 90 men who researched over 45 churches/places of worship in the Finn Valley area and produced an exhibition illustrating the diversity of religious cultures in the region. The project has used art as a means to build positive community relationships in the Border Region. The exhibition is made up of photos, paintings, woodcraft items, mosaic and a masterpiece model of Glenfin Chapel made to scale complete with stained glass windows and lighting.   

The Finn Valley Men’s Choir is the first All Male Cross Border/Cross Community Choir in the Northwest. Group singing has steadily increased in popularity recently, as it is known to have a positive effect on health and overall well-being. The Choir has promoted a sense of community awareness. Over 30 men from the Donegal and Tyrone Border Regions, many who took to the stage for the first time, came together as one to perform as the Finn Valley Men’s Choir. They entertained with a wide selection of music and song including melodies from the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra and other well known artists.

The initial Finn Valley Men’s Project commenced in 2016 and such was the success of the eighteen month programme, the IFI agreed to provide additional funding support to extend the programme for a further eighteen months.  Over that time more than 220 men aged over 25 years from key areas in the Finn Valley region - Ballybofey/ Stranorlar, Castlefinn, Raphoe, Glenfin and Lifford in Co. Donegal and Sion Mills, Clady/Glebe and Gortin in Co Tyrone - have engaged in the project. Working closely with the Donegal ETB, the project offered the men’s groups the opportunity to undertake educational and skills training programmes.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Adrian Johnston, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: “First of all I would like to congratulate and applaud all of the participants here this evening on their achievements and on a wonderful evening of entertainment. The Fund was delighted to support this cross-border, cross-community project which sought to engage with individuals in targeted urban and rural areas that had not previously participated in community development and peace building projects. The outcome is that over 220 participants from both sides of the Border have learned new skills and gained a better understanding of the benefits of peace and reconciliation which I have no doubt will be of great benefit to them personally and to their communities in future years. Nurturing greater cross-border and cross-community links is an important element of this project, which is funded by the International Fund for Ireland with the aim of advancing trust and understanding between both communities in East Donegal and West Tyrone.

Project Co-ordinator Kathleen Bonner thanked the IFI for the funding support, “without which this project would not have been possible to begin with, and the funding extension is testimony to the success achieved to date and we are indebted to the IFI for their continued support. The interest in this project has grown right across the Finn Valley region due to the high level of success of the initial project.  The participants involved with the programme all speak very highly of their experience of the project and I would like to thank all the key community contacts who have contributed towards making it such a success”. 

For further information about our funding programmes, or for information on how to apply for funding, please contact the person(s) or organisation(s) identifed at the end of the relevant programme summary in the areas of activity section.

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