Online festival brings best of Irish culture to the masses despite Covid-19 lockdown

Online festival brings best of Irish culture to the masses despite Covid-19 lockdown

AN exciting festival launched online this week brings Irish films, performances and musicians to the public despite the lockdown.

Organised by the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool, the Culture Unconfined programme offers 17 acts over five days which are freely available to view on the centre’s website.

“The festival is aimed at trying to challenge isolation and to promote the availability of cultural content," the Institute explains.

"We want our Irish dramatists, poets, musicians and filmmakers to know that the Irish community values their contribution to emotional well-being, knowledge and humour,” they add.

Launched on Monday, May 11 the festival runs until Friday, May 15, with new elements of the programme added to the site each day and all of the pieces available to watch after they have first been released on the site.

And there is an eclectic mix on offer – including the post-punk passion of Nuala Honan through to Roisin Walters' mix of traditional music and Bach and Deirdre Ní Chonghaile sharing the story of sean-nós song among the Irish diaspora.

Elsewhere DoubleBandFilms, from Belfast, have provided three features for the festival - a documentary on football legend Maradona, a film on Frank Carson and the wonderful The Man Who Shot the Great War – which documents the unique photographs taken by an Irish soldier on the front line in 1915.

The renowned Galway poet Rita Ann Higgins is also taking part, sharing her newly-written work on the Covid crisis, called ‘I must wash down the banister’, here.

Red Fox Theatre present Catch of the Day - a hilarious film which recounts the tale of a fish, DeValera, the Queen and a bunch of nuns.

Professor Peter Shirlow, Director of the University’s Institute of Irish Studies, organised the Culture Unconfined festival.

He said: “One of the first casualties of Covid-19 was culture with the closure of venues, rehearsals and programming

“However, one of the first responses to the lockdown were performances on balconies and people using their creative talents to deal with the trauma of crisis.

“As much as crisis defined culture it was clear culture was going to define crisis.

“Culture Unconfined is the Institute of Irish Studies’ response.”

The festival is free and all of the content is available here.