Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Local trad musicians delight Londoners with impromptu gigs

Young musicians from the Ring of Gullion Traditional Arts Partnership took their music to a whole new audience recently, delighting passengers with an impromptu session on the London Underground.

The group were on a visit to the city last weekend, as part of a cross-community, musical and cultural exchange initiative arranged by the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership Scheme.

The ‘Trad on the Tube’ was one of a series of impromptu gigs the teenagers performed, which included Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and even the top deck of a bus, while they also staged a concert in St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in Bishopsgate, a building rebuilt after an IRA bomb in 1993.

The Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership scheme is a £1.4million project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), NIEA and Newry and Mourne District Council, and is aimed at promoting the area of outstanding natural beauty.  Its chairperson, Des Murphy, says the reaction of the surprised audiences to the teenagers’ gigs was “priceless”.

“We seized the opportunity given to us from our visit to the St. Ethelburgas Peace & Reconciliation Centre, London, to showcase our outstanding talented young musicians from the south Armagh’s Ring of Gullion area. The response from the surprised audience to our young musicians on the London tube, an open top tour bus, and also at Big Ben and Trafalgar Square was priceless,” he said

Speaking of the experience of the trip, bodhrán player, Alana Flynn, said: “Personally, I enjoyed every aspect of the trip to London. As well as being able to view the wonderful sights of London, we played music throughout the city, even on the tube, providing the Londoners with a taste of Irish music. Overall, this was an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of it.”

Gaeilgeoir Bridín Ní Shúilleabháin, one of the youngest musicians who took part, added: “Bain mé an sult as an deireadh seachtain ar fad.  Bhí sé lán de ceol agus craic agus rinne mé cairde don tsaol.  Ní raibh seans agam rud éigin mar seo a dhéanamh i mo shoal agus caithfidh mé a rá ba bhreá liom é a dhéanamh arís, go raibh míle do achan duine i gceist.”

Tutor with the Traditional Arts Partnership, Elaine O’Sullivan, said the trip was an excellent opportunity to showcase the area’s music and culture: “The cultural exchange was a fantastic opportunity for the young musicians and singers to play at a unique, cultural, multi-faith venue for a very different audience,” and she thanked the Landscape Partnership Scheme for facilitating the event.