Building a Shared Future for Communities in Counties Louth, Tyrone, Armagh and Down
The Stephenstown Pond conference centre in Knockbridge, Dundalk played host to a special hand-beaten copper craft exhibition on Friday 14th December featuring unique works of art created by participants of the 21st Century Copper Craft & Reconciliation Project. The cross-community project brought together fifteen individuals from both sides of the border over 36 weeks to explore attitudes to peace and reconciliation via the medium of copper.
The project forms part of a wider Music and Craft at the Pond initiative funded by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) under its Community Based Economic and Social Regeneration Programme. The initiative is administered by the Stephenstown Pond Trust with the aim of delivering cross community training courses and activities in Counties Louth, Tyrone, Armagh and Down.
The project saw participants from both communities come together on a weekly basis to acquire skills in hand-beaten cooper craft, one of Ireland’s oldest traditional skills. Supported by local hand-beaten copper craftsmiths and project facilitators, Shane and Roddy McCollum, participants worked closely together to design and produce individual sculptures representing their personal understanding of reconciliation on the island of Ireland and their interpretation of what peace means to them. The course was also facilitated by dedicated workshops where participants explored the challenges faced by both communities and shared their experiences of the troubles and peace process.
Speaking at the event, Rose Mary Farrell, Board Member of the International Fund for Ireland said: “The Fund is committed to the long-term task of breaking down traditional barriers and helping to build positive relations and contact between the two main communities on the island of Ireland. That is why we are proud to be associated with the Music and Craft at the Pond project. By bringing individuals from local communities together to learn new skills and by fostering greater collaboration, we believe this project will have a very positive impact for reconciliation and promoting greater cross-community links.”
Rose Mary Farrell 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.
Geraldine McCullagh, project co-ordinator, said: “I would like to acknowledge the generous support we’ve received from the International Fund for Ireland for the Music and Craft at the Pond project. Without this support, participants would never have had the opportunity to work together and learn from each other’s experiences of the peace process. It has proved a tremendous success in helping to break down barriers and open the way toward a shared future by developing friendships between people who otherwise would not have met outside this project.”
Ms McCullagh stated that, by addressing some of the issues that have held communities in the area back from interacting and working together, the project has led to real benefits on the ground - both among the participants and the families but also the wider community. Given the positive impact of the project to date, Ms McCullagh said the Stephenstown Pond Trust is exploring the possibility of organising a tour of the exhibition among local communities next year.
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.
International Fund for Ireland
28-32 Alfred St.
+44 (0)28 9031 2884