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Fostering Peace and Reconciliation in Cavan and Fermanagh

Published on:  11 Dec 2013



On Friday (6th December), local residents and community representatives came together at Cavan County Council Courthouse for a showcase exhibition and finale concert to celebrate the completion of the Culture Cavan project.


The event provided a timely opportunity to showcase the achievements of participants across the four strands of the project, which is co-funded by the International Fund for Ireland through its Community Based Economic & Social Regeneration Programme and by Cavan County Council.


Administered by the Culture Cavan Steering Committee, the two-year project used drama, music and the creative arts to deliver a message of peace and reconciliation to almost 1,000 participants and audiences from both traditions in Cavan, Fermanagh and the wider border area.


The project provided community groups, bands and youth organisations with opportunities to take part in a series of initiatives aimed at enabling a sharing of knowledge, promoting reconciliation and paving the way for improved mutual understanding. The project was delivered through four art strands:


  • The Creative Writing Strand used workshops as a tool for Peace Building. This strand facilitated storytelling though the mediums of writing, storytelling, verbatim theatre, dramatic presentations and film. Participants hailed from Fermanagh, Cavan, Leitrim and further afield. Outcomes included “Belleek to Ballyjamesduff” – an intriguing book of recollections, poetry and fiction. 


  • The Spectacle Strand allowed those interested in expressing themselves through highly visual art pieces an opportunity to respond to the theme of ‘peace and reconciliation’ and their sense of community and future for our border area. The focus of this strand was on facilitators passing on skills that could be used within the target communities.


  • The Music Strand was hugely successful in bringing together musical friendships and partnerships that would have been unimaginable for many before the project. The bravery of the bands and individuals involved in the music strand was phenomenal and a number of key facilitators played a pivotal role in this community buy-in.


  • Home, Identity, Emblem and Visual Symbols Strand allowed a wider interpretation of the arts medium to be used for the work of peace and reconciliation. The outcomes of this strand included the County Choir travelling to Counties Fermanagh and Dublin giving the project an opportunity to showcase itself to large and diverse audiences including Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, The Life of Reilly Festival, Fermanagh Live and Culture Night.


Friday’s exhibition at Cavan County Council Courthouse brought together visual highlights from a diverse range of initiatives undertaken across all four strands of the project. This was followed by a finale concert including a musical performance by Cavan County Choir, which was initiated and funded by the Culture Cavan project, and a joint performance by the Mullaghboy Accordion Band and NYAH traditional musicians.


Speaking at the event, Ann O’Reilly, project coordinator, said:  “On behalf of everyone involved in this project, I would like to acknowledge the generous support we’ve received from the International Fund for Ireland for this important reconciliation initiative. The project has been a great success to date by increasing mutual understanding and cross community contact in the border area.”


“Over the course of two years, the project has engaged with almost 1,000 participants of all ages and backgrounds. It has truly surpassed all expectations by helping to challenge perceptions, change attitudes and develop friendships among participants from both communities – many of whom would otherwise never have had the opportunity to get to know each other.”


Dr. Adrian Johnston, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said that the work carried out under the ‘Culture Cavan’ is a powerful example of what can be achieved when communities come together with the aim of fostering greater cross-community ties and promoting reconciliation.


“The Fund is committed to the work of building positive relations between the two main communities on the island of Ireland,” said Dr Johnston. “This project has had a very positive impact for reconciliation in the wider Cavan/Fermanagh area through a wide range of community-based initiatives involving the arts. By bringing people together through a range of programmes, the project has been enormously successful over the last two years in fostering greater understanding and helping participants build new friendships with others from different backgrounds.”


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.


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