Monday, 9 January 2012

Derry~Londonderry and the Culture Wars

The current exchanges on Slugger O'Toole - here and here - and elsewhere illustrate the need IMO for a greater separation between envigorating culture and corrosive politics.

I have no musical or dancing accomplishments but forty years ago I helped establish JCSS, an inter-schools group in Coleraine; I also got involved with Corrymeela in Ballycastle around the same time. JCSS, amongst other things, put on 20-30 concerts a year for Corrymeela and about 10 in Coleraine. On one occasion at Corrymeela a group of Irish dancers couldn't perform because another group had already taken part. Apparently they were affiliated to two different dance bodies who just happened to be at daggers-drawn against one another. I was very annoyed that one group of youngsters had had their evening ruined because of dance 'politics'. At that point I decided I would drop national tags from cultural events where they would prove to be controversial.

In the bad old days when war was waging and (mostly other people's) blood was being spilt Corrymeela and other settings were places of tranquility where acts of common decency broke out:

Thank you for directing to us young people of such unselfishness and reliability. Each in his own way made a valuable contribution to the holiday. I personally learned a tremendous amount from their unselfishness. I only wish more people in our divided communities could experience how easy it is to love and live together once the will to do so is there .. the late Sr Souboris, Loreto Convent, Coleraine, following a 1973 summer camp for children hosted by the convent.