It was a moment to reflect, sitting in the Colmcille, a 35ft replica ‘curragh’ (traditional open boat similar to that which Colm Cille may have sailed across to Iona) in the middle of the River Foyle, Derry, listening to Ceara Conway’s ‘Vicissitudes’, in the warm sunshine. Colm Cille’s Spiral is about connecting with the distant past, and the experience felt layered in time and space. Ceara’s gentle philosophical probings made us think about our own personal journeys, feeling quite insignificant in the expanse of water, but also what strengths there might be in collectively responding to our frustration for change in the face of the apparently immovable objects of global corporations, the church and state. We were still in the water, absorbing the  language, but not understanding Ceara’s laments in Irish …for a little time to pause.

It was quite a contrast to the night before, when the Foyle Embankment was packed with some 30,000 people from the city celebrating the Irish saint’s slaying of the Loch Ness Monster, apparently with a panoply of flood lights and dazzling fireworks. The procession earlier in the day brought on a mind boggling eclecticism of imagery – burning Viking ships, monks dancing to apparently Turkish drum and bass, other monks beating to the sounds with bones, young punks and older punks – the fantastic Undertones – and giant shirts (Derry was famous for shirt-making). I’m not sure what it all meant,  nor what Colm Cille would have made of it, but we had a great time none-the-less.

Ben Eastop

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