In The Mode with Liam Ó Maonlaí

Last year, I had a spellbinding conversation with Eugene Dunphy when the shared his knowledge and passion for Karl Hardebeck, the blind organist, composer, Gaeilgeoir and champion of Irish music.

Hardeback was of the opinon that Edward Bunting got it all wrong when he transcribed the music played at the 1792 Belfast Harp Festival. The 19-year old Bunting transcribed the music in notes wheras Irish music was modal. Now, not being an expert in music, I’ve been trying to find out what exactly “modal” music is.

I’ve asked a few people, but I couldn’t understand their answers. It’s not you, it’s me, honestly.

Until that is, when I was chatting to Liam Ó Maonlaí in the back bar of the Duke of York after the great RéDhamhsa gig at the Black Box. Above is how he described modal music.

Easy peasy and beautifully explained by Liam.

So the next time you’re turning your nose up at sean-nós singing, have a closer listen, get into the groove. It’s all part of the beautiful expression of universal human emotion.


Dunne scores

Billboard posters were torn from their moorings, flags strained on poles, branches waved like a furious Italian, hats rolled down the street – yes, the force of nature that is Niamh Dunne was in town today to play as part of the Out to Lunch festival in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

Limerick-born Niamh, best-known as a member of good-time trad combo Beoga, has released a superb solo album Portraits ( and the lunchtime audience got to hear tracks from the collection, from Richard Thompson’s Strange Affair to the Jacobite song, Ballyneety’s Walls which tells of Sarsfield’s men destroyed William’s siege train on its way to Limerick in 1690.

Typical of Irish folk songs, the tune is familiar but the lyrics give it its local and power and meaning.

“1690’s not too long ago,” said Niamh as laughter rippled through the Black Box. “What are yez laughing at?” she asked.

Another highlight of the gig was the Irish language song, Jimmy Mo Mhile Stór with superb accompaniment by fellow-Beoga member Sean Óg Graham and double bass player Trevor Hutchinson.

Niamh’s repertoire is firmly nestled in her native Limerick, with songs like Cailiín Rua, Sean McCarthy’s Shanagolden, and there’s a song on the album called The Beauty of Limerick, a song that reminds that the city and county aren’t all Rubberbandits and Willie O’Dea.

I love to hear local songs played outside their natural environs, Limerick songs in Belfast, Antrim songs in Galway, Conamara sean-nós in Bangor. The local really is universal.

The trio also gave us a number of rousing instrumentals including a couple composed by Sean Óg himself for what was a storm of a gig.

There is always a bit of Americana in Niamh’s repertoire and she finished off with Joe South’s 1969 hit Games People Play which got the lunchtime audience in good voice.

Oh, and a big word of praise for the great food served up  thanks to Hadskis – the chowder was scrumptious and there was a vegetarian option too! Carlsberg mightn’t do lunches but Hadskis and the Out do Lunch festival certainly do.

The Seamus Heaney Tribute Band


Seamus Heaney RTE

Wakes, in my experience, are great craic.

That is not to make light of the deceased or of the pain of kith and kin, but more a nod to the mixture of joyful reminiscence and celebration that distracts for a while the ineluctable sense of loss.

And so it was at the Lyric Theatre last night, when, as Frank Ormsby put it, the first-ever Seamus Heaney Tribute Band got together to pay tribute to a lovely man who happened to be a poet.

The tributes would have been the same had Seamus shunned the pen for the shovel and people were judged not by their occupation but by the content of their character. However, it is through his poetry that Heaney rang a bell in the souls of so many and gave us “a bounty that will flow all the days of our lives,” as Arts Council chairman, Bob Collins so eloquently put it.

Last night’s event, brought together at very short notice by Lyric Theatre trustee Stephen Douds, tapped into that bounty which each of the ten guests either reciting Seamus’s poems while others read from their own work.

All were memorable. Stella Cusker read from Heaney’s speech at the Lyric in April 2012; Michael Longley, a dear and long standing friend of Heaney’s, shared some anecdotes and read a poem called Boat (about his and Seamus’s mortality) as well as two poems by Heaney himself.

Sinead Morrissey fought successfully to hold back the tears as she read Tollund Man, a poem she taught students in Schleswig-Holstein in the German Danish border. She was less successful later as the stage lights caught the tears in her eyes and her trembling hands.

Bob Collins then gave a wonderful eulogy to Heaney which clearly touched each member of the audience and which I hope will appear in print somewhere while the mood was also beautifully captured by Neil Martin with his rendition on the cello of Port na bPúcaí, a tune that inspired Heaney to write The Given Note.

Seamus HeaneyDamian Gorman read the poem Postscript and one of his own, After the Poet about Victor Jara but which was apt too for the night that was in it.

Eamon Hughes gave an academic but very personal account of Heaney, man and work, while Frank Ormsby, who read the heart-rending poem about Sean Armstrong who was murdered during the troubles, A Postcard from North Antrim.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, paid a visit and read a song/poem in Irish, An Chéad Mháirt de Fhómhar which beautifully captures the sorrow and anger at the loss of a loved one.

Glenn Patterson read from his new book before Neil Martin returned to play a tune which some think goes back to the 13th century, a tune called The Parting of Friends.

It was left to Mark Carruthers to thank the people who had given so generously of their time to partake in this tribute to Seamus Heaney before Ian McIlhinney read probably the Bellaghy man’s most quoted poem, The Cure at Troy:

History says, Don’t hope

On this side of the grave,

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.

And so the night ended with a round of applause aimed at an empty podium as we pictured Seamus Heaney, that glint in his eye, the roguish smile, now beguiling the poetic Pantheon in the hereafter.

The Campbells of Greepe at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann

The Campbells of Greepe
The Campbells of Greepe


There is something special about Scottish singing.

A few weeks back I was in Crumlin Road Jail for a concert – no, it was nothing like Folsom Prison Blues  as it featured Kathleeen MacInnes and Manran.

At one point Kathleen was joined by Sineag MacIntyre and I was totally transported to na hEileannan Siar where I have spent many’s a happy hour over the past couple of years. The ability of the song and the singing and the language to create an almost out-of-body experience was incredible. Beam me up, Scotties.

The Campbells of Greepe/Caimbeulaich a’ Ghnìoba did something similar today. Lullabies, waulking songs, puirt a beul and the wonderful Seinneam Cliù nam Fear Ur with Maggie Macdonald excelling, spoke not just of place but also of family and how families, subconsciously, become custodians of a culture.

The Campbells are an exceptional extended family with cousins Kenna and Seumas Campbell and their children/nieces Maggie Macdonald, Mary Ann Kennedy and Wilma Kennedy. Listening to them, you would wish you had been brought up in a family where singing was such an integral part of life. Singing doesn’t make life’s problems go away but they help us along the way, accompanying us as children, as workers, as lovers (usually jilted) through to old age.

There is genuine love amongst the Campbells for the songs they sing and that comes through in their performances and that came through in the performance at the Guildhall in Derry today as part of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2013. Ethearal beauty and stomping work songs and a haunting finale of Down to the River translated into Scots Gaelic

I was at a singing workshop Maggie and Mary Ann gave in St George’s market and it too was fantastic. Watch out for a book, Fonn: The Campbells of Greepe, published by Acair Books.

Also on the bill at the Guildhall were Rona Wilkie and Marit Falt, a pairing totally new to me but who play musics from their native Scotland and Norway/Sweden – with the help of a string quartet!

I must say I was enthralled by the darkness and light (and humour) in their performance – they’re an act I’ll keep a close eye on.


The Lau Lowdown

This weekend one of the most talked about contemporary folk bands, Lau, are in the north for a couple of gigs in Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Derry, Thur 6th June, 8pm; in the Black Box (Fri 7th June, 8.30pm) in conjunction with An Droichead; and at Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick, on Sunday 9th June, 8pm.

Coming from places as far apart as Orkney (Kris Drever) and Cambridge (Martin Green) with Aidan O’Rourke growing up in the west Highlands, it certainly wasn’t geography that brought the trio together but ask any music fan or the judges of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, who have named Lau Best Group for four of the past six years.

Each member of the band is known for their dazzling virtuosity but chatting to  Martin Green this week, he told me they all grew up with different types of folk and traditional music.

“I grew up playing music with my family as did Kris and Aidan so we were musicians long before we started to think about what job we were going to do as adults,” he said.

“As with any band we all have slightly different tastes and ideas. Aidan’s traditional style is very strong, and even with his interest in other forms ot music, that music is irrepressible in his playing and a big part of what keeps Lau rooted in trad Scottish music.

Lau in session
Lau in session

“Kris has a seemingly inherent understanding of the craft of music making, listening to the whole and refining what we make. I enjoy finding new sounds, new pieces of technology, and finding ways to make them fit in what we do, and generally try and break stuff.”

Martin says it was sessions which brought the trio together.

He met Aidan at a party in his house once, and first met Kris in a session in Edinburgh, so that was luck and fate and a shared desire to find an outlet for the tunes they were writing led to them forming a band together.

I have always found it fascinating the journeys musicians take, from their first scrapings to technical and emotional virtuosity.

Did Martin take a typical musical path where you learn the simplest tunes when you’re in short trousers; move on to become really proficient, play and practice and learn more and more and then decide you want to try something different (add a bit of classical, cajun, Mongolian throat singing) and finally get fed up and go back to the tunes you learnt when you were a kid but with the wealth of experience accrued along the way.

People can jump off the bus at various stages but the more adventurous, like Lau, stay on board until they reach some unknown exotic destination.

“I don’t really know, I can only speak of my own experience.” he replies.

“I still love to play tunes in sessions, but I can’t imagine forming a truly trad band. I think you find the place where you feel like you make the most sense, I think (personally, I don’t speak for the boys here) that in terms of performance and career (as opposed to social music making), my draw is towards invention. There are so many great box players, and the music I first played, dance music, is not a scene I am really involved in at present. So I think I’ll keep exploring for now.”

And while the composing and playing is what a musician will necessarily be focussed on, does Lau ever think of an audience when they is composing pieces?

“We do try to take into account that this is supposed to be a spectator sport and that sometimes affects things like duration tracks and stuff,” says Martin.

“We certainly think a lot about each tour and which tunes we will play in the set to make the best coherent whole of an evening of music for people.”

The great new Lau album, Race the Loser, has taken a further step away from traditional folk in the direction of experimentalism and folktronica.

Does Martin believe there can exist an oxymoron called “avant-garde traditional music” – think Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh, The Gloaming, Iarla Ó LIonáird”

“I dunno,” he says frankly. “Names are both meaningless and completely vital, otherwise we have no way to talk about music. So yeah, if people start calling it that, then there is.

“What is certainly true, is that this music that is traditional in flavour and experimental in attitude is being made at the moment, whatever it is called. And to Lau’s collective ear, what is happening in Ireland just now is getting more and more exciting.”

Having said that, is it easy to reproduce the album sound when you’re playing live?

“Easier than we thought,” is the happy reply.

“We are blessed with a real wizard of an engineer, Tim Matthew, who really understands what we are up to. TIm is a very interesting musician himself, a fiddle player from Mull who also makes avant-garde electronic music – can’t be too many of them about!

“Tim and Tucker (Martine, the album’s producer) are friends, and share a sonic sense so in many ways Race The Loser sounds more like the gigs we were playing up to it than any recording before. There aren’t very many overdubs on that record so assuming we all move our fingers in the right order and TIm works his magic, I think we get pretty close.”

That sense of adventure has led Lau  -it’s an Orcadian word meaning “natural light” by the way – to some interesting collaborations, I’m thinking especially about those with Karine Polwert and Brian Irvine?

What does the band get from these collaborations?

“Well, Karine is a truly great songsmith, a real understander of the art of poetry and music, where and how to tell a story and when to leave spaces for people to draw their own conclusions. So in this regard there is much to be learnt for me there and that recording taught me a lot.

“Brian is the very best kind of chaotic force, a tremendous visible energy comes off him when he is a room controlling music. His composition is of course also amazing, but for me, it was watching him fire people up into a frenzy that was the most inspiring.”

When you have the attention of someone as knowledgeable and creative as  Martin Green, it is a great opportunity to ask things that have been in your head for a while, things you hadn’t understood. So I threw this googly at him.

“When I listen to a Scottish tune, I know it’s a Scottish tune and not an Irish tune. When I listen to an Irish tune, I know it’s an Irish tune and not a Scottish tune. Not having studied music, how do I know this? What’s the difference?

“Wow! You know people have written PhD’s on this stuff?” he replied, but answered anyway.

“Well as briefly as possible, the answer lies in rhythm and phrasing. It is exactly the same as a spoken accent, so if we met you would know straight away, I’m from England, and Aidan is from Scotland, and if you happen to know the accents of Scotland well, you would know Kris is from Orkney. The closer you are to the source, the more attuned you are to the nuances of tone, inflection, vocabulary, so if you were from Shetland, you would certainly know Kris was from Orkney. If you were from Orkney, you would maybe even know which town. Of course this model is true all over the world. The music is exactly the same. The fiddle is the same instrument in Ireland and Scotland, just as the human voice is. Some of these differences, are broad, vocabulary choices if you like, whole styles of tune that exist in only one of these places (e.g. 2/4 marches in Scotland, polkas in Ireland). Some of the differences are much more subtle, the sense of pace, of swing in the reels and jigs for example.”

So my thanks to Martin for that answer and a final question about Lau. Having been together for nearly 10 years now, can they clearly see the road ahead”

“To be honest it’s got a bit bigger than we thought it was going to already, so no, it’s really exciting for us at the moment, I can’t tell you where it’s headed, but all the signs are that it’s a good place.”


French GAA

Ever thought of combining a holiday to Brittany with a day’s Gaelic Games? That opportunity will come up on June 15th when the local GAA club at St. Brieuc hosts the French Gaelic Football Finals, with 20 clubs from all over France and the Channel Islands taking part on on Saturday, June the 15th. (Saint-Brieuc is named after a Welsh monk Brioc, who evangelized the region in the 6th century and established an oratory there).

For the first time of its history, Brittany is given the opportunity by the Federation de Football Gaélique to host the final round of the French and Channel Islands championship in 2013. Organised with the help of the Bro Sant-Brieg GAA club, it will take place in the vicinity of Saint Brieuc (Cotes d’Armor), at the Centre Technique Régional Henri Guérin in Ploufragan.

The Bro Sant-Brieg GAA club has made a tremendous effort to ensure that everything regarding this event is environmentally friendly by putting forward local development, catering using local products, recycling, no disposable plastic cups, minimal printing needs (flyers, posters, etc).

The venue for the championship is the state of the art Centre Technique Régional Henri Guérin which has four pitches. 20 teams are expected to attend coming from Brittany but also Paris, Clermont-Ferrand, Niort, Coutances, Toulouse, Jersey and Guernesey while officials from the European County Board (GAA) will be present. First aid will be provided by the Centre Français de secourisme de Plérin.

The will be a stand for local businesses, institutions and the media. On display on the day will be the world’s largest Gwen Ha Du (the flag of Brittany, 300 sq.m) and the Sant-Brieg & District Pipe Band will provide entertainment.

This is the last tournament of French competitions, which gathered 500 licenced players this year, 15 tournaments and 7 cup games played in total.

The Fédération de Football Gaélique has 20 teams with the French championship is split in 2 groups. Fédérale A (Paris,Niort, Toulouse, Clermont-Ferrand and Lyon) and B ( Brittany + channel islands).
The Shield competition is open to all other teams and there is a ladies football championship freaturing Paris, southern region, Brittany, Jersey and Guernesey.

The games begin at 10am on Saturday 15th june 2013 and everyone is welcome.

Fisk on Syria

A Syrian boy plays with a tank in the northern town of Azaz

To say the situation in Syria is complex is like saying the Pope is a Catholic. An illustration of this is the talk eminent journalist Robert Fisk gave in Belfast last Thursday when invited by the British Council to take part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.

Fisk told us he’d just spent the past two weeks in Damascus and Tartus and Latakia and on the northern frontiers of the Syrian government Army.

“Its a bit like being with the Wehrmacht at Stalingrad rather than with the good guys of the Red Army,” he said. “You are with people who are being investigated by the United Nations for War Crimes. I only got back a few days and I have to say, I got the impression that the Syrian Army at the minute is winning and the rebels are not.

“The people whom we regard as the good guys – some of whom have the habit of chopping off other peoples’ head – are having big problems. The government Army has won back the suburbs of Damascus, and in the far north – I was only a few miles from the Turkish border – they had recaptured eight villages in the past two weeks.”

Fisk told of how he spoke to all ranks in the Syrian army and how they told him of the causalities they inflicted with literally no prisoners taken. This is a very bloody war with 60,000 casualties but who knows the real figure and yet, it’s Fisk’s view that Bashar al-Assad will continue in power “a lot longer” even though the civil war is now in its third year.

“We have a habit in the west, where we think the baddies will go because they are bad,” he said, “but the idea that Bashar al-Assad is going to run away to an Alawite area of northwestern Syria doesn’t seem likely to me.”

Fisk asked one colonel, if it was the purpose of the Syrian Army was to defend Syria against Israel, why were they facing Turkey in the north when Israel was 300 miles away in the south.

“His answer was that they were fighting the tools of Israel, because ‘Fatah in the mountains are supporting the rebels against my country therefore, I am fighting Israel here’.

“I rather suspect, however, that Israel would prefer Bashar al-Assad to survive if the alternative is an Islamic Caliphate. Interestingly, in more than two years of civil war in which maybe 60,000 people have died, Israel has only once condemned the Syrian government.”

That judgement was thrown into doubt this weekend when Israel launched strikes on Damascus, “targetting Iranian missiles destined for Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement.”

Hezbollah are staunch supporters of the Assad regime and the Israeli attacks have been seen as helping the rebels, a claim Israel denies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

What we do know is that Syria also has the support of Russia.

“I don’t think the Russians are helping Syria because they want to keep their naval base at Tartus – there are 1,000 Russian marines based there – I think they have a completely different view of the country,” explained Fisk.

“An official at the Foreign Ministry said to me: ‘Look you call it ‘the Middle East, to us it’s the south. When we look south from Moscow, we see Chechnya and just beyond Chechnya is Syria. We are not going to have another Chechnya in Syria’ he said. “I think this is Putin’s anti-Islamist views coming through,” says Fisk. ”

I think Russia has a very, very deep enmity towards Islamist extremism. Fisk has lived in the Middle East for 37 years and has unrivalled access to all the corridors of power, official and unofficial, which makes his views on Palestine so depressing. Israel felt betrayed by the British when all they got was the narrow strip of land they were giving in 1948 as opposed to the whole of Palestine.

“Of course, it’s getting bigger as they steal more land from Palestinians but I should say now that I don’t believe there will ever be a Palestinian state.

“I was in Israel six months ago and I drove all around the West Bank and I simply think there are too many Jewish colonies, for Jews and Jews only, on Arab land for there ever to be a Palestinian state. There are so many special roads, special checkpoints, a cordon sanitaire for military purposes a cross the west Bank, even on the banks of the Jordan river, for there ever to be a Palestinian state,” says Fisk.

Eastern European Gaels

Danilea Pukite (Latvia), Santa Berzina (Latvia), Arnas Paulauskas (Lithuania), Domantas Kiausis (Lithuania), Eva Varaniviciute (Lithuanian), Gabi Chmielewska (Poland), Wiktoria Wictorowicz (Poland), Anthony Dimitrov. (Bulgaria)Danilea Pukite (Latvia), Santa Berzina (Latvia), Arnas Paulauskas (Lithuania), Domantas Kiausis (Lithuania), Eva Varaniviciute (Lithuanian), Gabi Chmielewska (Poland), Wiktoria Wictorowicz (Poland), Anthony Dimitrov. (Bulgaria)

With Ruairí Quinn giving himself sleepless nights about “restrictive practices at some all-Irish schools, which are prohibiting some pupils from entry”, this little story from Gael Linn adds a little context to the idea that Gaelscoileanna are dens of bigotry against foreign nationals.

“This year’s Feis Ard Mhacha was very well attended and the adjudicators, Seán Ó Maoiltsté and Dónall Mac Giolla Chóill, were delighted with the high standard in the various Irish language competitions of poetry recital, dialogue, conversation, public speaking and Gaeltacht scholarships.

The adjudicators were particularly impressed by the students whose parents have settled in Armagh in more recent years from various countries. These children all attend Mount Saint Catherine’s Primary School which has won awards in recent years from Foras na Gaeilge’s ‘Gleo’ competition.

The Feis was held over two days and received full support from the host venue of Armagh’s Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre. Réamonn Ó Ciaráin, Gael Linn’s Regional Manager said that it was great to see these young boys and girls achieving so highly in what must be their third language at least and that they were enjoying Irish so much. Gael Linn also organise Gaeltacht colleges and you can get more information from

Mea Maxima Culpa

Arthur Budzinski with flyer he and others circulated accusing Fr Laurence Murphy of abuse
Arthur Budzinski with flyer he and others circulated accusing Fr Lawrence Murphy of abuse

It was the children’s eyes that hit home. The eyes of young deaf boys who, for the first time, had seen their new school St John’s School for the Deaf in Wisconsin and were beguiled.

“When I first entered St John’s, I loved it. The campus at that school was beautiful. Such magnificent stonework. It was like a castle. I loved that school,”” recalled Gary Smith who was four years old when he went there in 1954.

“Our school had a magnificent stature of Jesus Christ with his hands lovingly placed on the heads of two children. I could see that Jesus loved children and that children loved Jesus too.”

Other children recalled the happiness of being around their peers, deaf children the same age as themselves and when they were at Mass, some of them felt as if they were in heaven.

For Gary Smith, Bob Bolger, Terry Cohut and Arthur Budzinski – and literally hundreds more – heaven turned into hell due to Father Lawrence Murphy.

Now in their 50s, the four tell their stories in Oscar-winning documentary maker Alex Gibney’s new film, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, the children’s eyes now residing in the features of middle-aged men as they talk about the depravity they suffered at the hands of one of the Church’s worst abusers. They would forever see those dark events, even with their eyes closed.

Because they are deaf, their words are spoken by actors but more than the words, the force of their story comes through their facial expressions, the eyes that saw the paedophile priest come silently into the darkness of their dormitory to abuse his helpless victims and the eloquent signing.

What affected me most was when one of the men said that Fr Murphy deliberately chose children whose parents

Fr Lawrence Murphy preyed on hundreds of deaf children while at St John's School for the Deaf in Wisconsin
Fr Lawrence Murphy preyed on hundreds of deaf children while at St John’s School for the Deaf in Wisconsin

could not sign. That way the youngsters couldn’t tell their parents what was happening to them. Being deaf and dumb, they couldn’t communicate what was happening behind the doors that were closed as the parents drove off.

Until they grew up, that is.

The four decided to tell the world the truth about Lawrence Murphy and made the first known protest against clerical sexual abuse in the United States.

Gibney’s film follows the story from that decision in 1972 and, in a pattern we know has been replicated in countless numbers of cases, the reaction was to blame the victims, to buy them off, and/or to silence them by whatever means possible while at all time, shielding the perpetrators of heinous crimes.

The treatment of the victims is contrasted with the likes of Father Marcial Maciel, the founder of The Legion of Christ who sexually abused numerous underage seminarians. Maciel was a hugely successful fund-raiser for the Church and a favourite of John Paul II but who was denounced by the Vatican immediately after John Paul’s death for creating a system of power that enabled him to lead an “immoral” double life “devoid of scruples and authentic religious sentiment.”

(This is echoed by the report of Cardinals Julián Herranz, Jozef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi as reported in the Italian newspaper, la Repubblica, which talks of a “gay lobby” within the Vatican which, the paper suggests. was one of the reasons why Pope Benedict is standing down.)

Mea Maxima Culpa points out that for 25 years, the former Archbishop Ratzinger was head of the office which dealt with the worst cases of clerical abuse. the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. In 2001, Ratzinger put out a teaching, approved by John Paul II, which said that every sex abuse case involving a minor, should all go through his desk.

There is no-one in the Catholic Church more knowledgeable about clerical sex abuse and allegations thereof, than Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI,

Although much of Mea Maxima Culpa will surprise very few who have taken an interest or have been affected by clerical abuse, the eloquence of the deaf victims and the added insight it gives into the networks of power and influence at the top of  an organization which seems to be suffering from a siege mentality, in a state of denial and in increasing internal turmoil, all making it a film not to be missed, a film that will arouse strong emotions in all who see it.

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, recent winner of the IFTA award for Best Feature Documentary, is running at Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast from today until 28 February. It was partly made by Belfast-based TV company, Below the Radar.

William Crawley, from BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence, will be introducing the film on Friday 22 February at 6.30pm.

A new jazz club for Belfast

A new monthly Jazz Club will be opening in Belfast on Friday 1st March and after that on the first Friday of each month.

The venue is upstairs in the new Sunflower Public House which is situated behind Belfast Central Library on the corner of Union Street & Kent Street.

The great news is that the 1st Fridays Jazz Club will be hosted by Keith Donald, who most people will remember from the legendary trad-rock-jazz band Moving Hearts but who played in the famous Sammy Houston’s Jazz Club in Great Victoria Street from 1961 to 1963 before leaving to study in Dublin. Now, 50 years later, Keith is returning to his roots.

Keith did his first gig when he was ten years old playing the recorder on the BBC, but his real love was jazz, fostered no doubt by listening to his brother’s constant playing of Benny Goodman records at home.

That love added to a prodigious talent has led to a long career as a musician and composer for stage, radio and TV.
Music has brought him to Ronnie Scott’s in London, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Capetown Jazz Festival, the Royal Festival Hall in London, Royce Hall in Los Angeles and the Bottom Line in New York.

Keith has gigged and/or recorded with Noel Kelehan, Zoot Sims, Louis Stewart, Gerry Mulligan, Noel Kelehan, Louis Stewart, Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, Máire Breathnach, Ronnie Drew, Van Morrison and hundreds of other fine musicians.

It a musical A-lister was looking for a saxophonist, Keith Donald’s was the first number to ring, but now Coleraine-born Keith has parked the saxophone after 48 years of blowing and returned to the clarinet and has formed a new jazz group, FUBAR, with Tommy Halverty on guitar and Dave Redmond on bass but many more people are going to get to know Keith as the host of the Sunflower’s new jazz club.

With its intimate atmosphere, the First Friday Jazz Nights at the Sunflower could become the kind of venue in which legends are created.

To kick off on Friday 1st March, Tipperary-born Carmel McCreagh will be launching her new CD Skylark, featuring the songs of Johnny Mercer. She will be joined on stage by Keith Donald (sax & clarinet), Fiachra Trench (keyboards), Joe Csibi (bass) and Steve Hogan (drums).
Doors open at 8pm and cover charge is £10.