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North Belfast Groups to Donegal and Derry

Members of the group enjoying the sun in the Famine Village. Photo by Ephy McConnell

Arts for All has received funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs for study visits to sites of historical importance across the island of Ireland.

On a beautiful day in late March 2014, 22 north Belfast residents set out along the M2 for a day of cultural experiences, organised by Arts for All. The bus was full of people from:

  • Arts for All
  • Highfield Community Centre
  • Woodvale Community Centre
  • The Heel and Ankle (Shankill)
  • Tiger’s Bay Historical Society
  • SASH group (Shankill)

The group visited the Famine Village first near Cardonagh in County Donegal. We had a moving visit with a guide Pat Doherty who grew up on a house onsite. Pat talked about the causes, results and impact of the Irish famine and about what life was like in Ireland at that time (1845-1850). The Village includes exhibitions dealing with the recent conflict and even has its own Orange Hall! Some members of the group had been up to the Famine Village when it was being built and donated banners from Whiterock Orange Order. They were delighted to return and see how the banner had been used – in a sensitive and thought provoking display about the history of the Order on the island.

After lunch provided by the local hotel, the group got back into the bus and headed to the Tower Museum IN Derry city. This proved to be another great visit and tour by a local guide.

These visits will inform several Arts for All projects over the coming months including a major World War One mural project and a potential World War One theatre project.

From its base on the York Road, Arts for All organises a range of programmes with community groups. It is currently seeking participants for a textiles project exploring the contribution of the port and docks to Belfast, in particular women’s contribution.

Some of the participants commented:

‘Great day out with Arts for All....visited the Famine Village at Donegal..... great exhibits and a very informative local guide....then on to Londonderry to the Tower museum, steeped in history.... excellent displays enhanced again by a great tour guide. Very enjoyable’. Tiger’s Bay Historical Society

‘Everyone had a great time.... we make a lot of new friends through Arts for All’ Highfield Community Centre

‘It was very informative about the terrible times of this part of our history, but it didn’t stop there it brought us right up to the present day with some surprising twists. I would highly recommend the Famine Village to all denominations and cultures to take the time to visit.

‘The Tower Museum in Londonderry brought the history of the walled city alive and helps you to understand the culture of the great city. This too walks you through the ages from its birth to the present day. I will go back, and bring visitors to both venues in the near future.’ Heel and Ankle