Yesterday our Vice-chair, John Monaghan wrote about Fermanagh Writers participation in the Islander Festival. Today our Chair, Tony Brady, tells us a bit more about the opening ceremony at the Moat Ring on Friday, 2nd May:
Fermanagh Writers represented by John Monaghan, Jennie Brien, Mary McElroy, John Llewellyn James and Bob Blair contributed to the 2014 inaugural opening of the three day Lisnaskea Islander Festival, whose first event was staged on the historic Moat Ring: ancestral crowning site of the Maguire kings.
A large audience was greeted by a figure dressed as a monk. He read from a parchment scroll and described the ancestral significance of the place in terms of its spiritual and dynastic origins. Then he led a procession across fields of deep grass to the base of the stone mount where the poets, writers and a group of musicians were prepared. Above them large white letters spelled ISLANDER and fiery torches blazed.
Barry Flanaghan – the Festival organiser – described the initiative as being a new opportunity to kindle cultural awareness of the Moat Ring, promote tourist interest and foster local community heritage connections through the media of art, poetry, music and literature linked to the distinct geography of the Lough Erne islands and Lisnaskea town.
Between the various contributions by Fermanagh Writers, including an impromptu reading by well-known islander poet and writer John Reihill, the monk recalled the ancient Maguire dominion – visible from all points of the compass – and concluding the artistic/devotional event, invoked blessings on the gathered multitude. Bob Baird joined the musician trio from Donegal in a song and instrumental epilogue.
The collective atmosphere promoted a mystical sense of the pagan/christian historic breadth: combining a social, cultural connectiveness that was inspiring, moving and significant while inclusively containing for a group of diverse participants and onlookers.
On dispersing, many people, comprising infants, school age children, young adults, and elders remained to ascend the Mount while others returned across the fields for transport by bus laid on for their convenience back to Lisnaskea. Much appreciation is extended to John Monaghan who liaised with the festival organisation and co-ordinated the presentation by Fermanagh Writers.