Tag: #madfornew

In:Visible Women collage workshop, #LIF2017, Liverpool Blackwell's (c) E Smith c/o LIF

Exhibition call for work about Ireland’s Eighth Amendment

Call to artists for work responding to Ireland’s Repeal the Eighth movement and historic referendum vote, leading to 2018 exhibition at OUTPUT gallery.

Liverpool Irish Festival (LIF) and OUTPUT gallery have partnered this year to commission an artist to respond to the successful repeal of The 8th Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, which now allows the government to legislate for abortion and grants new body autonomy to people in Ireland.

We are inviting exhibition applications from Liverpool, Liverpool Irish, and Irish creatives born or based in Merseyside working in the visual arts, performance, film or any other media. With such a powerful subject at the heart of the exhibition, applicants might choose to make work about the historical consequences of the 8th Amendment, its emotional impact, empowerment, agency, or the cultural shift the repeal marks.

The exhibition will run 18-28 October 2018, the entirety of this year’s LIF, which is the largest and most diverse showcase of contemporary and traditional Irish arts and culture in the UK. The selected artist will receive £300 and OUTPUT gallery will cover the technical production of the exhibition, which will be promoted by LIF.

To apply, please send your idea for the exhibition, details, and any images of previous work to [email protected]. This open call will close midnight of Fri 31 Aug 2018. OUTPUT gallery will be wheelchair accessible but the bathrooms are not. Please get in touch if you have any questions relating to the brief or any access requirements.

Terms and Conditions

Please be aware Creative Call – Ts and Cs, which we – LIF and OUTPUT gallery – will use to help determine our selection. Please read these before submitting your response to this call. If you submit an edxhibition proposal, we will presume you have read and accept these terms and conditions.

Additional information

More details about OUTPUT gallery can be found at www.thekazimier.co.uk/output or on social media using the handle: @outputgallery
'To Have to Shoot Irishmen' lead image (detail only) (c) Andy Donovan

Lizzie Nunnery: A decade of creative friendship

To Have to Shoot Irishmen, a play written by Lizzie Nunnery -and produced by her company Almanac Arts– will feature as part of #LIF2018.

It will be the fourth siginificant piece of Lizzie’s work that LIF has shown in 10 years. So where did it all begin, where might it go and what has changed? We asked Lizzie (LN) to reflect on her friendship with us and what she thought about it all…

Over to Lizzie:

Over the past decade, Liverpool Irish Festival has been a good friend to me. An inspiring and supportive friend… but also a challenging one… The kind of friend that walks you to the edge of a cliff and says ‘jump’, but then gently reminds you that you’re wearing a parachute.

In 2008, the year of Capital of Culture, I was an enthusiastic and wide-eyed playwright and songwriter, fresh from my first production at the Liverpool Everyman. The play was called Intemperance, about an impoverished Liverpool Irish family and set in 1854 and had drawn the attention of then Festival Manager, Jake Roney. He met me in the charming noise of the old Everyman Bistro. With characteristic directness he asked me if I’d like to be Artistic Director of a multi-disciplinary arts event in the Concert Room at St Georges Hall.

I’d never been Artistic Director of anything in my life, but that didn’t seem to bother him. He wanted me to curate a night of dance, drama and live music about the links between Liverpool’s black and Irish community. His working title – taken from signs that used to hang outside pubs and boarding houses as late at the 1960s – was No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish. I was probably a little bit flattered, and a little bit naive, but mostly I was excited by the possibilities. So, over a couple of pints of Guinness(TM), the deal was struck.

What followed was a very intense few months – on a punishing learning curve – bringing together a group of ground breaking artists from disparate backgrounds; creating conditions for them to collaborate, shaping a night that would hit the audience in the head and the heart. So many moments from the night still burn in my mind. It wasn’t slick and it wasn’t polished, but it was full of feeling and ideas. Liverpool singer songwriter Ogo slayed the crowd with a rendition of a heartbreaking original song. Actress Ashing Leyne delivered a fierce performance of a new short play about the racist murder of black sailor Charles Wootton in Liverpool in 1919. Dancers Ithalia Forel and Maria Malone from Movema UK combined traditional Brazilian and Irish dance into a new piece of choreography performed to a soundtrack of percussion and spoken word. It was astounding how eclectic and yet cohesive it all felt. I remember sitting in the audience feeling breathless as I watched the dance piece. When the dancers stopped moving the room kept on spinning around them. So much felt suddenly possible as an artist in Liverpool in 2008 and Liverpool Irish Festival had truly invited me to the party.

Lizzie Nunnery, Zanzibar (c) Keith Ainsworth
Lizzie Nunnery at the Zanzibar (c) Keith Ainsworth

My friendship with the festival stayed strong over the years as an audience member. Each year I’d particularly look forward to the pub sessions and intimate unusual folk gigs. I loved how the festival reached in to the back snugs and social centres of the city as well as setting up camp in the shiny big spaces like FACT or the Philharmonic Hall.

Speaking of which… in 2010 came the second time LIF set me a frightening and wonderful challenge. The Irish Sea Sessions – thought up by then Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Hall, Simon Glinn, was part loose and lively session, part large scale gig. His plan was to bring together a big group of folk artists from both sides of the Irish sea; fifteen singers, guitarists, percussionists, pipe players, songwriters… All were to collaborate in a celebration of their shared musical culture and create a great big smasher of a gig. That I was one of those fifteen came as something of a shock. It was the kind of email I had to read and re-read. The list of other performers was formidable. Not only were there world-renowned players amongst them, but also the phenomenal ballad singer Niamh Parsons and Damien Dempsey, whose debut album I’d dissected endlessly through headphones as a student.

And I was going to rehearse with them; swap tunes with them; stand amongst them. No space for shyness. There was nothing for it but to step up to the challenge. It was one of the most tiring, exhilarating and educational weeks of my working life. By the end of it I was standing on stage at The Phil, leading a rendition of The Leaving of Liverpool, feeling as though I was flying; perhaps flying by the seat of my pants, but flying all the same. In a nice link, the original solo song I chose to perform was England Loves a Poor Boy, written for that St Georges Hall show back in 2008. When in 2012, I was asked to perform in the Irish Sea Sessions for a 2nd time there was a lovely sense of coming home; being welcomed back in.

And now in 2018 I stand poised to take another leap, with LIF there once again giving me that vital nudge. Having worked on my play with songs To Have to Shoot Irishmen for around a decade, it will be produced by Almanac Arts in association with LIF this autumn. The show opens in London (2 Oct) before coming to the Liverpool Everyman (26-27 Oct), just in time to join the fun of the festival.

Inspired by the true murder of Irish pacifist Francis Sheehy Skeffington by a British soldier during the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, the new play explores fractured national identity and the chaotic legacy of British military intervention. It’s a story that bridges the Irish Sea. It’s a show that draws together song, drama, storytelling; that asks important questions and doesn’t flinch. What better home for it than Liverpool Irish Festival?

'To Have to Shoot Irishmen' lead image (detail only) (c) Andy Donovan
‘To Have to Shoot Irishmen’ lead image (detail only) (c) Andy Donovan

For more on the play, click here.

almanacarts.wordpress.com  |  nunnerynorheim.com

Tour dates and ticket links

Sue Rynhart singing on board La Malouine with Skipper Roy Kerr and technician from Adlib

La Malouine – an ode sung with real Rynhart

This a migration story about Sue Rynhart’s song La Malouine; written by an Irish women, about a French ship for a Liverpool performance on the #LIF2018 Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta Ship Stage…

Played on a beatifully hot day on the Mersey, aboard it’s namesake La Malouine, this song takes you on voice of sirens to oceans far away!


You can hear La Malouine here.

Lyrics: La Malouine

Summer young blows her along
A ship at sea
A dreamer flying free.

Tears of time, she sings her song;
“Hold us tight draw us away”
Tide is pulling
Ocean spray.

She’s every colour, she’s everything, she will make the water sing.
She’s every colour, she’s everything, she will make the water sing.

A distant light to Evensong
Ink blue mysteries grow long.
Starboard leaning
Swell and sway.
With the wind and sea she’ll stay.

Mother, Daughter, Ship is Queen.
Hold her tight and pull her in
On board La Malouine.

Who is she?
To the sea?
La Malouine.

Lyrics and music (c) Sue Rynhart, 2018. The song was recorded at Arad Studios in Dublin by Les Keye, with Charlie Moon on guitar and Sue Rynhart on vocals. Charlie also accompanied Sue at the Liverpool live performance as part of the Three Festivals event.

Sue Rynhart (SR) has been in Liverpool before. Her friend Ailís Ní Ríain suggested Sue contact the Liverpool Irish Festival (LIF), following her own appearance in 2016. From this point a fascination with the city and its connections has developed.

This is both a complex and a simple story; based on migrating ideas, developing long-distance friendships and creative trust; explorations in to the past and translations in to today. It is layered – as all relationships are – with varied meanings, snatched ideas and conversations, but this one has a creative flow that crosses the seas.

At it’s simplest it is about taking an opportunity and making it work.

Sue is known for her music. She has often written about water; about women and the female relationship with the world. With an elfin gait and a wide eyed charm Sue may look something approaching fragile, but she is spry and keen, strong and flexible. Lauded for her “songs that sound at once ancient and modern, with echoes of folk and early music, contemporary jazz and the avant garde, recalling Theo Bleckmann, Bjork and a hint of Joni Mitchell” (The Irish Times ****). She is cited as a “Beautiful vocalist…[with] wonderful composition” (BBC). “Sue’s atmospheric lyrics would all – I suspect – make fantastic reading as poetry even outside of their prime, intended musical context….She communicates her artistic vision in her songs with precision and immediacy, combining grace and energy while deliberately placing her voice within the context of sparsely scored, emotion-baring musical settings” (Folk Radio UK)… and for all of these reasons and more, we have wanted her to come back and work with us, ever since we met her in 2017.

Sue Rynhart set list
Sue Rynhart set list


When Sue first contacted us, we were (ashamedly) not aware of her slick, witty, charming music and disarming, kooky, ethereal sound. It didn’t take long to have us hooked. Tooing and froing about where we could place her in the programme and how to organise it all at the last minute – just weeks ahead of the festival launch – it soon became very obvious that Sue had to be part of our Visible Women showcase at the Liverpool Philharmonic. She – and double bassist, Dan Bodwell – held the audience, captivated. We stayed in touch.

Sue sent us a copy of her album Signals, a follow on from her album Crossings. We stayed in touch. We talked about how both albums linked to water and migration, our theme for 2018.

New contexts

We – Liverpool Irish Festival – were commissioned to find and platform work for the Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta on behalf of Culture Liverpool/Liverpool City Council. We thought about Sue’s work. We were given a Tall Ship to programme.

La Malouine is a twin masted French Brigantine tall ship, registered in the Port of Dumfries in Scotland.

How wonderful would it sound on a ship, in the open air…how would it chime with the femininity of ships (they’re all named after women), of Sirens, of time… We got in touch.

Sue said yes. Not only did she say yes, she came back – in what seemed like moments – and said “I have written a song”. Over to Sue…

SR: “When I was invited to sing on board the Tall Ship La Malouine I was so excited. For as long as I can remember I have admired Tall Ships. I grew up by the sea in Dublin and it has always been a source of inspiration for me. It’s a great honour to be invited aboard this Ship and I wanted to express my gratitude to the Ship owner and to the Festival. I began researching the ship. I discovered that She was once called ‘Wilem’. I also found that she was originally registered in France, with her home port being Saint Malo. She is still French flagged, and her registration is for private charter, but her home port is now Dumfries in Scotland.

Sue's audience at the Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta,complete with timpanology section!
Sue’s audience at the Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta,complete with timpanology section!

“La Malouine is a non-profit organisation, and the crew take a lot of young people sailing, usually for no charge or for a small donation.

“I had already been humming a melody and felt words coming ‘La MalouineLa Malouine…Mother, Daughter, Ship is Queen…aboard La Malouine…’ then I thought ‘Aagh! What if I have the incorrect pronunciation?’

“I sent a slightly manic message to the to the contact email asking “does the ship’s name rhyme with Hallowe’en?”. Realising how bonkers that must have sounded to them, I quickly explained that I was writing a song to sing aboard La Malouine at the Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta presented by Liverpool Irish Festival in Liverpool and needed to be sure that I had the correct pronunciation… An extra syllable – or one syllable less – would have thrown the metre off altogether and I was so happy with the lyrics that were emerging…

“I have to say the Captain and his Crew got back to me straight away and reassured me (very politely glossing over my out-of-the-blue, slightly bonkers tone!). I was in the flow of coming up with this song; I jotted down words and sounds; sang some of them and sang more words that came to mind.

“I had written words, which I was going to use in a spoken word intro, but when I started it, it sounded too dreamy; too wishy-washy.

“Then I imagined an electric guitar with distortion. My Dad is an excellent electric guitarist, so I went to my parent’s house and had a listen to my Dad playing all sorts of effects using vintage pedals. Thanks to my Dad, I found effects that were perfect for the intro and for the song throughout. It was very important to me that the song – and the Ship, in turn – would have a very strong introduction.

“The guitar at the beginning is full of power, presence and strength, there is a stoic quality to the theme and I thought this was very fitting. The rest of the song just flowed. I added in the guitar to play in canon – in parts to be playful like the wind in the sails – and for the most part to arpeggiate the chords. I wanted a big contrast between the distortion on the intro to a more gentle effect for the main [body] of the song, to give lots of space for the lyrics to be heard”.


Sue Rynhart: Sue’s debut album ‘Crossings (Songs for Voice & Double Bass)’ and follow up album ‘Signals’ have both received international critical acclaim from RTÉ Lyric fm, The Irish Times, the respected American website allaboutjazz.com, The Independent and The Sunday Times UK. She has premiered works by many of the Composers from the Irish Composers Collective and the Contemporary Music Centre and and has performed on BBC Radio with the Choir of Christchurch Cathedral Dublin. Sue recognises the support she has received across various projects from the Arts Council of Ireland, Culture Ireland, the Improvised Music Company and Note Productions.

About the Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta: The Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta took place in Liverpool 25-28 May 2018. The Liverpool Irish Festival featured quite heavily, with two days of programming on the La Malouine and in the National Museum of Liverpool‘s Martin Luther King Jnr Building in Albert Dock. The Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta is also a unifying race between three countries. It is a key event because it ties us to our neighbours – through time and tide. It helps to place-make each location by showing the world where we are on its map. The Liverpool Irish Festival‘s contribution to this event has been supported by

  • Liverpool City Council
  • Arts Council England
  • The Irish Government’s Department for Foreign Affairs.

Liverpool City Council logo - supporters of the Liverpool Irish Festival through their cultural investment programme

Liverpool 2018 logo denotes activities that sit beneath the Liverpool City Council's 2018 cultural programme.




Department of Foreign Affairs and Investment (Government of Ireland) logo - the DFA support us through their Emigrant Support Programme




London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign speech bubble logo

In:Visible Women and the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign

As regular readers will know Cara Sanquest of the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign introduced the Liverpool Irish Festival to this organisation and to the Abortion Support Network (see Mara Clarke’s piece, here). Cara also introduced us to Hannah Little, a London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaigner, from the Republic of Ireland. Here, Hannah tells us a little about how she became involved ahead, of her speaking at the In:Visible Women day (more details below).

*     *     *     *     *

Hannah Little – London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign

The truth is I never really felt Irish until I left. Growing up I had not considered how my long red hair, thick Dublin accent and chatty demeanour would qualify me as a walking Irish stereotype. When I moved to London I learned the significance of my nationality in encounters with new friends and colleagues. What I saw simply as my personal characteristics – being friendly, sociable and a little forthright – others viewed as typical traits of “the Irish”. I was happy to discover that we were generally viewed quite positively. Before long, I became comfortable with the feeling that I embodied the idea that Ireland was a nation of lively, approachable people.

This new-found national pride was called into question when I heard about the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012. Savita, a 31-year-old woman from Galway, had died from complications arising from a septic miscarriage after being denied an abortion. Following repeated requests for a termination, her husband and family were told it was not an option “because Ireland is a Catholic country”.

I felt the urge to gather with others and mourn her shocking and tragic death. Lighting a candle outside the towering grey Irish embassy in Knightsbridge, I was forced to reconsider the positive image of Ireland I was promoting abroad. If abortion is recognised as basic healthcare around the world, how could an otherwise healthy woman die in hospital in my home country? The enduring influence of Catholicism in Ireland had suppressed medical wisdom and as a result, Savita had died an entirely preventable death.

As support for a referendum on the issue of abortion in Ireland began to gather momentum, I decided that rather than watching from afar I would try to play my part abroad. In 2016 I was part of a team of Irish ex-pats who organised a London solidarity event on the day of the March for Choice in Dublin. Hundreds gathered outside the Irish embassy to send a clear message that the diaspora were also calling for a full repeal of the eighth amendment – a constitutional change that could enable increased access to abortion in Ireland.

I met a group of likeminded people that day and together we went on to form the London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign. Since then, our group has grown to over 1,500 members and boasts a team of over 60 volunteers working on a daily basis. We campaign for access to free, safe and legal abortions across the island of Ireland through fundraising, direct action, lobbying of politicians and building international awareness of the issue through the UK media.

With a referendum on the Eighth Amendment now imminent, the next few months are crucial for the Irish pro-choice movement. As we saw with the result of the referendum on same sex marriage, Ireland is ready to break free from Catholic conservatism and adopt the twenty-first century values of inclusiveness and acceptance.

Irish people do not need to identify as pro-choice to appreciate that current legislation is harming Irish women*. The United Nations has repeatedly stated that Ireland is in breach of human rights by denying its citizens access to basic healthcare. I hope that by voting for increased access to abortion, Ireland can go some way to redressing the tragic injustice of Savita’s death and no doubt countless others.

Only when Ireland allows women to have full control over their own bodies will I be proud to call it home again.

(*) trans, and non-binary people

London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign

The London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign calls for the repeal of the 8th amendment from the Irish constitution (ROI) and campaigns for access to free safe legal abortion in Ireland and Northern Ireland. They are the London branch of the Abortion Rights Campaign in Ireland, and a member of the Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment. londonirisharc.com | repealeighth.ie | abortionrightscampaign.ie  Handles: /londonirisharc /ldnirisharc

Abortion Support Network

Abortion Support Network provides financial assistance and accommodation to those travelling from the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man for abortion procedures. Funding is available on a case by case basis, depending on financial need and availability of funding. Individuals are asked to contact ASN before booking travel as they can also advise on the least expensive clinics and methods of transport. ASN provide confidential, non-judgmental information to anyone who contacts them via phone or email about travelling to England for an abortion, as well as information about reputable providers of early medical abortion pills by post, which they also provide information on. asn.org.uk Press and non-urgent enquiries can be made to Mara Clarke, Founder and Director of ASN here:

Mara Clarke at [email protected] + 44 (0) 7913 353 530.

In:Visible Women

In:Visible Women takes place on Fri 27 Oct 2017, as part of /LivIrishFest at Central Library. Book tickets here:


Abortion Support Network logo

In:Visible Women and the Abortion Support Network

In February the Liverpool Irish Festival attended the Irish Government’s Global Forum in Dublin. There we met Cara Sanquest from the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign. Cara has clear and communicable convictions; an intellect matched with eloquence and a crystalline ability to speak to people of all ages articulately and with compassion…in a room of international civil servants, business leaders and social welfare providers Cara’s voice stood out. It was clear we needed to speak – what Cara said we believed our audiences would have opinions on and our artists would have responses to. We wanted to  as well as a contemporary voice we wanted to carry forward.

Between us, plans for In:Visible Women developed. As a result of our conversations, the Liverpool Irish Festival were introduced to Mara Clarke, founder and Director of the Abortion Support Network. Mara, like Cara, is erudite and clear – her charity has seen what poor abortion law can create and has born witness to some harrowing cases and life stories. She knows the individuals and is aware of the serious difficulties laws and ‘old school’ values create. Her life is lived in the liminal space between was is ‘lawful’ and what is ‘moral’…between governments…between families and between opinions. Mara is very clear on what is needed and works tirelessly for funds, support and understanding

Since our initial conversations, much case law and legislation has passed about abortion, much of it in rooms where the Abortion Support Network have been present. We discussed London-Irish ARC and ASN being part of an afternoon of discussions and set the dates. Sadly for us, the pressures on ASN – at a  time when legislation is shifting and mass movements are forcing change – have meant Mara has not been able to join us for In:Visible Women and so instead, to share more about the organisation, we commissioned Mara to write a statement about its work. The statement will be read as part of the In:Visible Women day, but for those interested in its work, we are also producing it here.

*     *     *     *     *

Mara Clarke and the Abortion Support Network

The Abortion Support Network (www.asn.org.uk) is a grassroots charity. We do three things:

  1. we provide practical advice about the least expensive way to arrange an abortion in travel in England and information about the two reputable providers of early medical abortion pills online
  2. we provide money towards the £400-£2000 it costs to travel and pay for an abortion
  3. if required we secure and provide overnight accommodation in volunteer homes.

People often ask why we started Abortion Support NetworkASN to our friends – in 2009. We say, how can this be the question? Surely the question is why in 2009 are entire countries still denying women and pregnant people access to safe legal abortions? When will people reason that making abortion against the law doesn’t stop abortion? To clarify the answer to this, it doesn’t. It stops safe abortion. It stops abortion for poor women. It stops abortion for people who can’t leave their country – women with children and no childcare; women who need visas to travel; women who can’t get out from under the watchful eyes of abusive or controlling partners or parents.

Since turning on our phone in 2009, ASN has heard from almost 4,000 clients.

There is no typical client. We have heard from women as old as 53 and girls as young as 13. Many of them already have children. These were women in abusive relationships; women living in homeless shelters; women addicted to drugs; women with serious mental health issues, women pregnant as result of rape; women with serious medical conditions that pregnancy would complicate and women who had been told that their wanted babies had catastrophic foetal anomalies.

There are four things all ASN clients have in common:

  • They were pregnant
  • They didn’t want to be pregnant (or had a wanted pregnancy turn unviable)
  • They were poor
  • And not a single one of them thought they would ever be calling us.

Though we’ve heard some incredibly harrowing stories, ASN is clear with our supporters and funders that we don’t believe there is a hierarchy of abortion. We never prioritise one client over another. We don’t ask our clients how they got pregnant or why they want abortions. We don’t even ask if they are women and we know that we have helped a handful of trans, gender dysmorphic and/or intersexual clients. Our only criteria are financial need and our availability of funds.

Women with money don’t have to justify their reasons for having an abortion, so our clients don’t need to either.

Abortion Support Network is an abortion fund. We exist because we think “I can’t afford an abortion” shouldn’t be the only reason someone becomes a parent. We are the people who deal in the human cost of making abortion against the law.

Abortion Support Network

Abortion Support Network provides financial assistance and accommodation to those travelling from the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man for abortion procedures. Funding is available on a case by case basis, depending on financial need and availability of funding. Individuals are asked to contact ASN before booking travel as they can also advise on the least expensive clinics and methods of transport. ASN provide confidential, non-judgmental information to anyone who contacts them via phone or email about travelling to England for an abortion, as well as information about reputable providers of early medical abortion pills by post, which they also provide information on. asn.org.uk Press and non-urgent enquiries can be made to Mara Clarke, Founder and Director of ASN here:

Mara Clarke at [email protected] + 44 (0) 7913 353 530.

London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign

The London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign calls for the repeal of the 8th amendment from the Irish constitution (ROI) and campaigns for access to free safe legal abortion in Ireland and Northern Ireland. They are the London branch of the Abortion Rights Campaign in Ireland, and a member of the Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment. londonirisharc.com | repealeighth.ie | abortionrightscampaign.ie  Handles: /londonirisharc /ldnirisharc

In:Visible Women

In:Visible Women takes place on Fri 27 Oct 2017, as part of /LivIrishFest at Central Library. Book tickets here:


The Breath (c) York Tillyer - 4 members, sat onteh floor in front of a large arched window

LIF2017 asks – what does it mean to be Irish?

Liverpool Irish Festival returns for its 15th year this October. 

  • Liverpool Irish Festival is the only arts and culture led Irish festival in the UK platforming an incredible array of art, culture, performance, film, music, literature, food and drink, talks and tours

  • It runs for 10 days between Thurs 19-Sun 29 October 2017 at venues including the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room, the Capstone Theatre, Liverpool Irish Centre, Handyman Supermarket, Liverpool Central Library and more

  • It’s returning for its 15th year and involves hundreds of artists and performers

  • Expanding on previous festival events, In:Visible Women delivers a new strand of festival work exploring gender politics in Liverpool and Ireland’s history and culture, including a talk by BBC war correspondent Orla Guerin (in partnership with the Institute of Irish Studies at University of Liverpool); photography from Casey Orr,  children’s author Carmel Kelly and others.

Liverpool Irish Festival returns for its 15th year asking, “what does it mean to be Irish?” 2017 is a significant year for Irish culture and identity. With the potential impact of new Irish citizens applying for passports; a review of Ireland’s Global Diaspora and referendum policies plus the election of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, a growing conversation on the future of the island of Ireland and its relationship between “traditional values” and 21st century liberalism is surfacing. In its role as the largest festival of Irish arts and culture in the UK.

Liverpool Irish Festival is well placed to invite artists, academics and the public to explore these conversations and how the relationships between Ireland, Liverpool and the wider UK will develop at this critical juncture.

Highlights of the 2017 festival include:

Orla Guerin will give a lecture at this year’s festival

**BBC War Correspondent Orla Guerin reflects on a frontline career a broadcast journalist, experiencing some of the most unsettled war zones in the world. Orla’s lecture launches a new festival strand In:Visible Women, which explores some of the ‘forgotten women’ from Liverpudlian and Irish history, as well as contemporary issues facing women. This precedes a night of music from Liverpool and/or Irish female performers, including folk musician, Liverpool resident and Comhaltas player, Emma Lusby (Limavady, Co Londonderry); vocalist and composer Sue Rynhart and singer Ailbhe Reddy (both Dublin).

**Festival bands include Strength NIA (Derry) and Seafoam Green (Dublin). Live sessions take place in pubs across the city and a three-night festival club at Liverpool Philharmonic’s Music Room.

**Full performances of the play ‘Committed’. Having first appeared as a script-reading at Liverpool Irish Festival 2014 it returns after a successful run. Written by Stephen Smith (Belfast), the play is set in 1990s Belfast, against the backdrop of the peace process and continuing aggression and violence within communities.

**‘The Lily and the Poppy’, a strand of work (and name given to the festival’s partnership with the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool) first launched in 2016, returns with a talk exploring reconciliation, particularly within Ireland.

**A new Liverpool Irish history book by Greg Quiery (musician, walking tour-guide, writer and Liverpool Irish Festival Board member) launches at the festival, offering a definitive examination of the indelible historic and cultural bonds between Irish communities and “East Dublin”, as Liverpool is often known. The launch is sponsored by, and will take place at the, Institute of Irish Studies.

Composer Sue Rynhart will perform at In:Visible Women (c) Virginia Thomas Photography

Emma Smith, Festival Director says,

“Over the past 15 years the Liverpool Irish Festival has worked towards becoming the only arts and culture led Irish festival in the UK. Our consideration of contemporary arts practice, Irish culture and some of the more traditional elements of Ireland’s creative expression, permit us to engage in both current and historic stories that tie Liverpool and Ireland together. Because we have created and programmed a multidisciplinary festival, we offer the opportunity of hearing from a range of voices, providing the chance to hear these stories through written form, voice, music, song, dance, art, and performance. There are opportunities to speak with the artists, watch their work from a distance or engage directly. This leads audiences to a rich variety of events, practices and spaces. We have more exciting projects to announce for this year’s festival and we think it’ll be our most diverse and exciting yet!”

The full programme will be online to book tickets at www.liverpoolirishfestival.com from Mon 11 Sept 2017

Facebook, Twitter & Instagram search for LivIrishFest





The most diverse celebration of Irish culture in the UK, Liverpool Irish Festival began in 2003. Established to celebrate cultural connections between Liverpool and Ireland, bringing the two communities closer together through arts and culture, the festival has grown into a ten day festival of music, art, performance, culture, food, drink and film. Key artists to have performed at the festival include: Roisin O, Ciaran Lavery, Fearghus O’Conchuir, Terri Hooley, Ailís Ni Rhian, Lisa Hannigan and Dennis Connolly and Anne Cleary (2015’s Meta Perceptual Helmets). Liverpool Irish Festival works with partners across the city and Ireland including the Liverpool Irish Centre, Irish in Britain, Connected Irish, NML, Liverpool Philharmonic, the Unity, the Capstone and the Irish Embassy along with other social spaces such as The Caledonia, Kelly’s Dispensary and The Edinburgh.

The Liverpool Irish Festival is supported with Cultural Investment funding from Liverpool City Council, for which it is greatly indebted.

Philip Hayes with a number of his collages

Collage Creations

Liverpool based artist Philip Hayes has a collage exhibition in Unit 51 at, Baltic Creative, running from 28 November-9 December 2016. In this article we celebrate his links with the Liverpool Irish Festival and look at his use of collage to develop his thinking and help with his fight for wellbeing.

Philip Hayes, a leading Liverpool music figure and former founder of the Picket, a much missed music venue. In recent weeks, he has been telling us how he has used the power of art to bring his life back on track. We also know Philip as one of the co-founders of the Liverpool Irish Festival who helped to bring the festival to life, so what has this journey meant?

“I helped set up the Liverpool Irish Festival with John Chandler (ongoing Chair of the Liverpool Irish Festival) in 2003; it just seemed so obvious an idea to do this thing here. I commissioned a mural – working with the Liverpool Mural Project, which was painted on the exterior of my venue the Picket, celebrating the links between Liverpool and Ireland[. This] was sadly painted over [in] black whilst I was in hospital in 2013, an act of cultural vandalism, in my opinion. Today it is not visible, but may reappear once the elements have their way”.

He is aware of Irishness running throughout his work and particularly of how the sound of our voices has changed due to the unique relationship between Liverpool and Ireland and how this has impacted on the accent, music and creative output of the city. In Philip’s understanding, the rise of the Irish communities in the city transformed post-1840’s from Lancastrian into Scouse, from a plain monotone accent to a lyrical, lively and dynamic sound.

He wants to ensure that we do not forget how we got our sound and to acknowledge the Irish presence that has impacted the identity of Scousers in the city. His work depicts aspects of Ireland that come through because of the people he has worked with. Artists such as Elvis Costello (real name Declan Patrick McManus), George Harrison (a Beatle with Irish cousins), and Paul McCartney and John Lennon with direct Irish descent. Hayes says “my work would not be telling the true story of Liverpool musicians, without acknowledging the Irish presence and impact on the identity of Scousers”.

One of Hayes’s project is to create an album to raise funds to help support people who have minor and severe learning difficulties. He has booked recording studios and aims to get two or three songs recorded. He is also in talks with key music figures in Liverpool to expand the project, including David Pichillingi Liverpool Sound City; Kevin McManus, Curator at the British Museum of Popular Music (formerly of Liverpool Vision) and Chris Meehan, Sentric Music, publishing specialists to get the project off the ground.

Philip took to creating collages to help him with issues he was suffering with back in 2013, finding expression through their creation and using them to calm him once they had been produced, finding solace in the stories each of them told.

To help him get through his time spent at the different clinics he would ask staff to let him have his collages and they let him fill a room with them. Hayes used art as a way of focussing  his recovery time, helping him get to where he is now. One of his favourites is the Lennon collage, which he describes as “instantly recognisable as being all about him”. The album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, has been used by Hayes in his own therapy, in which he also adopted primal scream therapy to help him recover.

Hayes went under mental health treatment between 2013 and 2015. “When I went into Windsor House I was very ill. But I want people to know there is a way out when you find yourself in such a desperate situation – I am the proof of that and I’m thinking of writing my autobiography and calling it From Crocky To Tocky Via Hell In A Handcart”.

A collage called Good Samaritans, contains 3D objects and he would like to use this artwork to go along with the studio album mentioned above. The album aims to remove the stigma around mental health and raise funds for the Samaritans and other organisations, including SAFE in Bootle and the Belve (Belvedere Youth and Community Activity Centre) in Toxteth.

Philip Hayes’s Collage Creations opens at Unit 51 on Jamaica Street in Liverpool’s thriving Baltic Creative.

Phone number: 116 123 (UK) 116 123 (ROI) (free to call)

Article by Rebecca Brunskill, LIPA student with contributions from Philip Hayes.

Liverpool Irish Festival would like to thank Rebecca for the work she has done in creating this article and for her internship support. Thank you!

Black and white drawing of fish swmming to the left

A tale of revolution – Scadàn

A new production written and directed by three emerging Liverpool Irish artists is to be staged at Invisible Wind Factory as part of Liverpool Irish Festival. Telling the story of a women’s commune in 1914, touching on revolution and the suffragettes, Scadàn will be accompanied by live music, imagery and old Celtic stories creating an immersive and mesmeric performance.

A Crowdfunder has been launched to support the production, which will run over two nights during the festival on Tues 18 Oct and Wed 19 October. Liverpool Irish Festival runs from 13-23 October 2016.

Written by Lauren O’Hara and Connor Kelly (both young writers from Derry-Londonderry and living in Liverpool), the production is directed by Roisin Fletcher, who lives in Liverpool with family hailing from Co. Donegal. Scadàn tells the story of Muireann, who leaves the island of Tory to make her way to America. At a women’s commune she meets four other women, one of whom is a Liverpool suffragette. Delving into the Irish politics of 1914, the suffrage movement in England and Ireland, the audience journeys with Muireann – leaving Tory, exploring the feelings, actions and emotions that continue to inform politics today, both locally and globally. Like all good theatre, it provokes us to think: should we take action, should we educate? Do we have to get involved? What does involvement even mean?

The story is fictional, but was inspired after the discovery of a book by Roisin, ‘Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923’. Having travelled to Tory many times and reading about the women involved in Irish revolution, Roisin learned about women’s communes and those who were based in County Donegal. Weaving in the stories of myth, legend and tradition she knew from her family in Donegal, the production began to emerge.

Alongside the story, Scadàn will feature music composed by Liverpool composer and sound designer Luke Thomas (‘Dis Place’, ‘TENT!’) who has worked on immersive art installations for Liverpool Light Night and as musical director at Hope Street Limited.

Roisin, who completed a six month emerging artist programme with Hope Street Limited, directing The Snow Flake Trail 2015 and a new street performance for Spare Parts Festival 2016, says; “The stories of female revolutionaries rarely make it to history books. I felt a great sense of connection when I first read about these women, the communes and their politics. Telling the story of these five women using myth, music, legend and language touches on all the elements of art and storytelling I’m passionate about. It’s a fictional tale but it says a great deal about our relationship with politics now as well as our Irish heritage”.

Emma Smith, who leads Liverpool Irish Festival adds, “We are delighted to be working with emerging artists in Liverpool and to provide a stage for their voices and stories. It is also critical to me that we begin to unveil the women of our past who have long had their stories, brilliance and power shrouded from view, and impact go unrecognised. This promises to be a powerful and emotive production telling a story of a century ago that will feel very present. It’s also encouraging that its origins are in these young women and in this city”.

To support Scadàn on Crowdfunder go here

Connect with the festival on www.liverpoolirishfestival.com

Twitter @LivIrishFest

Catherine Keenan - 'Urchin, Black' - black glass sculpture

Self-identity: vanguard or new wave?

A tension rankles between the traditional vanguard and today’s ‘new wave’. Reflected in culture, multiple understandings of history and our communication choices, the struggle to understand generations before and after our own is often at the root of why we create: to tell our story. In the centenary year of the Easter Rising and the year of Brexit – two defining and connected moments shaping Ireland, Britain and Europe – the tension between new and old is of the zeitgeist.

Tension isn’t necessarily negative. It can be the propellant needed to push beliefs and society forward making new ground and putting pay to outdated thought. Consider last year’s majority vote supporting gay marriage in the Republic of Ireland, a powerfully progressive statement wholly unimaginable at the time of the Eater Rising. It demonstrates we can take something traditional – marriage – and inject it with a contemporary spark – equality! – to create something new, showing tension can create something warm, friendly and downright convivial. We need to celebrate these stories to keep moving forward.

So, what is ‘a story’? Literally, a story is “a narrative designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the receiver”. Stories allow us to understand personal positions; picture individual environments and reflect and share our histories, differences and similarities. They state our identities. Post-Brexit our stories could be more important than ever, which informs what 2016’s Liverpool Irish Festival is about: bringing Liverpool and Ireland closer together. What could be more convivial than that?

Everyman Street Café will provide (Mon-Sat) the social hub for the festival, with a small library of Irish materials, providing space for people to meet, talk about festival events and make friends. The event holds multiple stories ripe for sharing, discussing and reconsidering. A 100 years since James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man HE Ambassador to Ireland Dan Mulhall, Professor Frank Shovlin of the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies and other academics will discuss its significance and legacy. Scadán (a new Irish story and production) from Liverpool and Irish writers, actors and producers, explores five female stories on an Irish island, 100 years ago.

Commemorative responses differ across the generations, offering moments of reflection and chances to explore a central moment in the foundation of the Irish Republic. 1916’s Easter Rising saw six days of fighting in Dublin, with nearly 100 men and women risking everything to travel from Liverpool to take part, stating a claim for their Irish-ness. Today 6 million ‘English people’ await Irish passport decisions, showing ‘Irish-ness’ is just as important today. Accordingly, this year, we are showing contemporary works exploring what the Easter Rising means – historically and today – in artefact form (Central Library) and in print (the Bagelry), with additional talks on the subject. Singer songwriter – Damien Dempsey – performs his unique album No Force on Earth commemorating the Rising (Music Room, Liverpool Philharmonic). We also have Peter King’s (descendent of the King Brothers, famous Liverpudlian Easter Uprising volunteers) Liverpool Lambs among many more.

The Liverpool Irish Festival does not pitch new against old. It explores what can be learned from both and enjoys what can happen in between. Without taking sides, it considers how and why we arrive where we are and how we may use it to shape what follows. It provides convivial environments to provoke discussion, encourage sharing and explore difference, whilst building friendships, progressing views and creating positive experiences. Sound interesting? Get along to the Liverpool Irish Festival, 13-23 October 2016.

Written for Bido Lito by Laura Brown and Emma Smith