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Tales of Life on the Lagan celebrated at Waterways Storymaking Festival

Tuesday 5th February 2019 at 12pm 0 Comments

Pictured are young writer Aisling Smyth,10, from St Theresa’s Primary School in Lurgan, composer Bridgett O'Neill, who composed a special piece for the festival, Brian Cassells, OBE, Chair of Lagan Navigational Trust and poet Olive Broderick. Image: Pictured are young writer Aisling Smyth,10, from St Theresa’s Primary School in Lurgan, composer Bridgett O'Neill, who composed a special piece for the festival, Brian Cassells, OBE, Chair of Lagan Navigational Trust and poet Olive Broderick.

The stories of the Lagan Navigation were brought to life on Saturday (2nd February) at a special awards ceremony celebrating the creative talent of the communities that connect with the waterway.

Organised by the Lagan Navigation Trust, and supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funds, Lisburn and Castlereagh Council, Belfast City Council, Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Waterstones, Libraries NI, the Odyssey Trust and many others, the Waterways Storymaking Festival invited local people to submit their stories of life on the Lagan using words, images, music and dance. 

With a theme this year of “Linen on the Lagan”, creative writing, tapestry and photography workshops  ran through the Autumn, encouraging local residents to reflect on their own experiences of the historic waterway. As part of Saturday’s celebration event, prizes were awarded for creative writing across a range of categories for adults and young people. Residents in six local communities also learnt stitching skills to create a series of stunning tapestries which were displayed alongside a photographic exhibition, while local composer Bridget O’Neill worked with musician Colin Reid to create a new musical commission entitled Flight of the Locks.

The Lagan Navigation dates back to the 1700s; connecting with 300,000 residents, 141 schools with a 35,000 pupil population, and traverses three council districts along its 27 mile route. As custodians of the waterway, the Lagan Navigation Trust campaigns and raises investment to have the route restored and fully reopened for communities and future generation to enjoy.

Brian Cassells OBE, Chair of the Lagan Navigation Trust commented,

“The Lagan Navigation has been a hugely significant part of life for many generations of people. We were overwhelmed by the number of entries we received to this year’s festival. We’ve had local people taking part in creative writing workshops and photographing the surrounding landscape and wildlife, and others coming together in their communities to learn embroidery skills. This is only the second year of this Festival, so it has been extremely encouraging to see so many people, of all ages and abilities, getting involved and celebrating our proud tradition of storymaking in Northern Ireland.”

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, was one of the judges of the writing competition. He said:

“The Arts Council was delighted to get involved for the first time this year in the Waterways Storymaking Festival. Many of those who submitted their stories and poems to the creative writing competition had never done anything like this before and it was fantastic to see the range of entries submitted, each with own unique perspective on what the Lagan Navigation means to them.”

An exhibition of artworks created for the festival will now go on tour to Lagan Valley Island, Belfast Boat Club and the Millennium Court Arts Centre in Portadown. For more information visit www.lagannavigationtrust.com

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