Cultural Memory and the Good Friday Agreement

Detail close up of the front of The Belfast Agreement, replete with leader signatures.
Cultural Memory and the Good Friday Agreement 26Oct

25-years ago, The Belfast Agreement was signed.

It had taken 25-years to get from the Sunngingdale Agreement to this peace settlement. The new accord was built on self-determinism and parity of esteem and would become known as The Good Friday Agreement. Signed between two governments and 8 political parties, how did this political behemoth affect those who had to live within its terms? What would the cultural memory and legacy of this defining document be?

Moya Cannon (Donegal poet), Stephen Sexton (poet, and lecturer (Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast)), Greg Quiery (Liverpool-based Belfastian poet and historian) and Melanie Lenehan (multidisciplinary artist, pusic producer, and singer-songwriter) share their experiences, through their art and recollections.


Please note: this is a last minute change – Central Teaching Hub, University of Liverpool, Mount Pleasant Liverpool, L69 7ZP. For directions, incl information on parking on the University campus, please go to


This is a partnership event with the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies and supported by the Consul General, Manchester.

This panel forms part of The Institute’s contribution to this year’s Liverpool Irish Festival, together with hosting NightVisiting on 20 Oct and Brendan – Son of Dublin on 28 Oct. For a full listing of events of the Liverpool Irish Festival, click here.

Speaker biographies

Moya Cannon

Moya Cannon’s Collected Poems (Carcanet Press, 2021) brings together poems from six previous books, Oar (1990), The Parchment Boat (1997), Carrying the Songs (1907), Hands (2011), Keats Lives (2015) and Donegal Tarantella (2019), more than three decades’ work, a poetry of individual poems which compose a memorable, unpredictable sequence of discovery.
She was born and grew up in Co. Donegal, Ireland, spent most of her adult life in Galway and now lives in Dublin.

In her poems, history, archaeology, pre-historic art, geology and music figure as gateways to deeper understanding of our mysterious relationship with the natural world and with our past.

She has been a recipient of the Brendan Behan Award and the O’Shaughnessy Award and was Heimbold Professor of Irish Studies at the University of Villanova. She is a member of Aosdána.

Michelle Lenehan

Michelle Lenehan is a multidisciplinary artist, writer-poet, musician, and workshop facilitator whose passion lies in delivering creative writing workshops that adeptly introduce marginalised groups to the power of storytelling, creative writing, and performance poetry utilising language to empower and inspire.

In March this year, Michelle was awarded the BE FREE Liverpool Arts & Creativity Community Impact Award, which recognises individuals who have made a positive impact on their community through arts and creativity.

Stephen Sexton

Stephen Sexton’s first book, If All the World and Love Were Young was the winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. He was awarded the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2020. He was the winner of the National Poetry Competition in 2016 and the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award in 2018. Cheryl’s Destinies was published in 2021 and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. Both collections will be published by Wake Forest University Press in 2023. In 2023, he was commissioned by the Northern Ireland Office to write a poem in acknowledgement of the 25th anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement. He teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast.

Greg Quiery

Greg Quiery -a native of County Down- was a community worker in Belfast during the early years of the troubles before coming to Liverpool in the 1970s. In Liverpool, he’s been a youth worker, secondary school teacher, and Head of Liverpool’s Virtual School, the education service for children in care. His book In Hardship and Hope is a history of Liverpool’s Irish community. He was chair of the committee which erected the Memorial to the Irish Great Hunger in St Luke’s Gardens in 1998. Greg was active in Irish Studies during the early days of the Institute, teaching in Irish Studies at Continuing Education and serving as a Fellow of the Institute for some years. He’s a former board member of the Liverpool Irish Festival; active campaigner on environmental issues and plays Irish traditional music. Greg’s produced an album of his own comic songs and ballads in the Irish tradition, alongside two poetry books. Stray Dog Following, reflects his experiences in both Ireland and Liverpool, whilst Oglet, celebrates the wild environment which still survives close to Liverpool Airport.

Lyrical Agreement

Five years ago, The Institute of Irish Studies commissioned a video to mark the 20th anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement. Lyrical Agreement features some of the most meaningful excerpts of the Agreement, read out by people of all ages living in Northern Ireland, and can be viewed below.

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26 October 2023

6pm-7pm. Please see main body text for campus location and map.


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