Lord Mayor Launches 4 Corners Festival at Belfast City Hall

DSC06931 (Large)Belfast’s Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon today launched the third annual 4 Corners Festival (29 January – 8 February) at City Hall.

Mallon said that her tenure as Lord Mayor has so far taken her into the ‘four corners’ of the city, giving her experiences and insights that she had not had previously. The 4 Corners Festival provides opportunities for those of us who do not wear the mayor’s chain to venture into new parts of the city as well.

The themes of this year’s festival are generosity and imagination. Rev Steve Stockman of Fitzroy Presbyterian, one of the founders of the festival, said that:

‘To run a marathon, you need to first exercise the muscles of your legs. To be generous and imaginative, you need to exercise the muscles of generosity and imagination. We hope this year’s programme helps people to do just that.’

Stockman’s remarks were followed by the first public performance of a song written for the festival, ‘Imagine Belfast Without Walls,’ based on a poem by Stockman. Chris Wilson set the poem to music and sang while playing his guitar.

Mallon will feature in one of the festival’s headline events, ‘3 Mayors for all 4 Corners,’ a storytelling event with previous Lord Mayors Mairtin O Mulleior and Gavin Robinson, Tuesday 3 February at 8.00 pm in the Ulster Museum.

She will also host two events at City Hall:

‘Belfast’s Generosity to the 4 Corners of the World’, Tuesday 3 February at 11 am. Belfast based NGOs share their stories of our city’s generosity towards the world. Philip Orr shows how historical this is as he tells us how we wouldn’t let the slave ships dock.

‘4 Corners Refugee Feast’ (by invitation only), Thursday 5 February at 6.30 pm, a meal for refugees recently arrived in Belfast. You can support the event with a donation – each meal costs £20.

Stockman also recalled the riot outside last year’s ‘Listening to your Enemies,’ event at Skainos in East Belfast, where Brighton bomber Patrick Magee and Jo Berry, the daughter of a victim of the blast, Sir Anthony Berry MP, told their stories.

Stockman said that this had caused hurt and led the organisers to reflect on how things might have been done differently, before inviting Linda Ervine to speak about the event that would be held this year at Skainos: ‘Slighe Na Beatha’ or ‘The Path of Life’, a journey through the Psalms with Scottish Gaelic Psalm singers, Saturday 7 February at 7 pm.

After reading a Psalm in both Irish and English, Ervine said that the Psalms have been a source of healing for people down through the centuries, and that she hoped this year’s event could serve in the same way. As Stockman wrote in a recent blog post:

The Psalms sung or read or prayed are poetry to soothe the soul. How do we wrestle the messed up world we live in? How do we deal with the injustices, the horror of war, the deep frailties and failings of our own lives or the everyday reality of sickness and death. The laments of the Psalms are the artistic medicine for the soul.

Stephen Douglas of New Irish Arts, which provided a cello player for the launch, also spoke about an event at Clonard Monastery in West Belfast, ‘Greater Love: Stories, Images and Music from World War One,’ Friday 6 February at 8 pm.

A full programme of events can be found at: 4cornersfestival.com

Free to use photos can be found here: http://goo.gl/5KW0GQ

The events are:


January 29th to February 8th, at Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts (launch evening Thursday January 29th at 7.30pm)

How does the contemporary visual artistic community living or exhibiting in Belfast depict spirituality? Artists historically important to the spiritual community have been depicting religion and spirituality for eons.  Always sensitive to the emerging shifts in society they have been leading the way in visual representation. For the Four Corners festival Bronagh Lawson

(www.creativechangeni.com) has curated an exhibition bringing a selection of works which tackle contemporary spirituality. All pieces have emerged from the  Belfast artistic community living and working in all parts of the city over the last few years but have never previously been shown together. Exhibition includes print, painting, sculpture and digital.

Event Free BUT donations welcome towards the cost of the event.  


Friday January 30th at 8am

Our annual prayer breakfast will gather Church and community leaders and focus on a theme that needs our prayers if we are going to follow Jeremiah’s call to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

This is an invitation only event.


Friday January 30th at 7.30 in Canada Room, Lanyon Building, QUB

A Biblical Storytelling Event with Wendy Johnston. The sometimes shocking stories of the women five women named by Matthew in the genealogy of Jesus – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary, told by master storyteller Wendy Johnston. This will be followed by a discussion panel of contemporary women, exploring the importance of these stories and women’s stories in general in a world that often overlooks them. All against the background of the Canada Room’s stirring mural “Women Emerging from the Shadows”, by award winning Newry artist Michelle Rogers.

Event Free BUT donations welcome towards the cost of the event.  


Saturday 31st January from 1pm – 4pm.  There will be an opportunity to visit the art pieces with the artist.   Bus leaving from PS²  Gallery, 18 Donegall St, Belfast, BT12 2GP at 1pm. 

After spending 13 years in cross border, cross community development work Bronagh Lawson returned to her artistic practice. Not a church goer at the time  she attended a service in Dublin with a friend which led her to observe just how many different churches there were in East Belfast where she lived. With so many of Northern Irelands issues supposed to be about religion she decided to explore contemporary Belfast church going and look again at what was really going on now. The result has been an odyssey of attending over 340 different church services over four years in all areas of greater Belfast, documenting the experience as she goes.

Corners of the circle, is the first ART piece to come out of this experience. Installed in four different churches around the city, Bronagh invites you to visit each.

Event Free BUT donations welcome towards the cost of the event.  


Sunday February 1st at 7.00, in St Malachy’s Church, 24 Alfred Street, Belfast

The key words in the planning of this year’s 4 Corners Festival are generosity and imagination. In order to do generous acts we need to imagine alternatives to the way things are. At a political, religious, social or personal level we need the muscles of our imaginations exercised so that we can love our enemies and live for the peace and prosperity of the city. Michelle Marken and Steve Stockman explore the Biblical mandate and the pragmatic outworking of imagining generosity in Belfast.

Event Free BUT donations welcome towards the cost of the event.


Monday February 2nd at 7.30pm in Townsend Street Presbyterian Church 

Belfast:  Towards a City Without Walls by Vicky Cosstick with photographs by Frankie Quinn, will be published in 2015 by Northern Ireland publisher Colourpoint.  The book tells the story of the walls and of some of the people who are directly engaged with the walls, including community workers, politicians, civil servants, residents, artists and architects, church ministers and black taxi drivers.  In May 2013, the First and Deputy First Ministers made a commitment to bring the walls down by 2023 – is this likely to happen?  Is it desirable?  How might it happen?  

Vicky Cosstick will share some of her experience of writing the book, and some of the questions and issues that have emerged from her research.  Vicky has a background as a writer, journalist, pastoral theologian and church worker, and change facilitator.  Vicky was living in New York when she published her first article about Belfast in 1978 for the New York Daily News. She now lives in London and Donegal.

Event Free BUT donations welcome towards the cost of the event.   


Tuesday February 3rd at 11am, Belfast City Hall

This event, hosted by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Nichola Mallon will facilitate the gathering of Relief Agencies to share their stories and campaigns in a way that can remind Belfast what a generous city it is to the rest of the world. In doing so, we hope that we might inspire, on an individual and community-based level, similar energy, generosity and imagination in our working for a Belfast at peace with itself. Belfast has historically been imaginative and generous to the wider world. Philip Orr will speak about the time when Belfast stood up to slavery and refused to allow slave ships to dock in our port. The Lord Mayor will present Unsung Hero Awards to those who have contributed to our generosity abroad. 


Tuesday February 3rd at 8.00pm | ULSTER MUSEUM

In recent years Belfast city has been blessed with some imaginative and generous Lord Mayors. What were their experiences as Lord Mayor? Where did they see imagination and generosity? What surprised them? What encouraged them? How were they changed by their year working across the 4 Corners of our city. Come along and hear the last two Mayors, Gavin Robinson and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir along with the current one, Nichola Mallon, as they share their stories of their year as Belfast’s first citizen!

Event Free BUT donations welcome towards the cost of the event.   


Wednesday February 4th at 7:30 PM, Fortwilliam & Macrory Presbyterian Church on the Antrim Road (top of Fortwilliam Park)

On 17th March 2014 an historic agreement was signed by the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, with the full backing of Archbishop Justin Welby and Pope Francis, to combat slavery and human trafficking. This is the first time since the Reformation that the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches have united together on a project of world-wide import. Human trafficking is a scourge which affects approximately 29 million people worldwide, not only far away but also here in Northern Ireland.  As a topic of interest and concern to Christians of all denominations this evening will have input from representatives of Tearfund, Trócaire and Stop the Traffik, all of which are involved in different ways, at home and abroad, in the fight against human trafficking.

Event Free BUT donations welcome towards the cost of the event.   

4 CORNERS REFUGEE FEAST (by invitation only)

Thursday February 5th at 6:30 PM, Belfast City Hall

In conjunction with Embrace and others.  Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Nichola Mallon, in partnership with the 4 Corners Festival, will host this year’s meal for refugees recently arrived in Belfast. Young people from various parts of the city will assist in serving the meal to people who have come here to begin new lives.

This is a closed event but sponsorship of a meal will be gladly accepted. Buy a meal for a refugee for £20 

Greater Love”.   Stories, Images and Music from World War One

Friday 6th February at 8pm,

Clonard Monastery, TICKETS £10 Buy tickets now…

“Greater Love” was launched in Parliament Buildings, Stormont in May 2014 and New Irish is delighted to be bringing it to Clonard on Friday 6th February as part of “Four Corners Festival”. The script tells the stories of several local individuals who were involved in the Great War – and draws hope from the selfless acts of people who put others before themselves. The music is largely from the period of the war, and includes popular war time songs such as “Tipperary” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” but also includes some reflective items which are more recent compositions – “The Mansions of the Lord” and “There is a Hope”. The presentation lasts 90 minutes.

This event has been produced by New Irish Arts – an organisation working in partnership with the Irish Church to present Christianity through the Arts. New Irish produces large events in the major Irish concert halls every year, but also enjoys collaborating with other musicians and working on smaller community projects. Through all of our events, we aim to present Christianity, resource the church, and support Christians working in the Arts.


Saturday February 7th at 3pm, in Strand Arts Centre

Most of us at some time in our lives feel that we have been wronged by others in some way. It may be as a result of malicious gossip or maybe a violent act or even worse. How do we react in such situations? Do we lash out at the offender, are we eaten up with the desire for revenge? ‘A Step Too Far?’ investigates an alternative to revenge; the idea of forgiveness. From Northern Ireland to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, ordinary people share their real life stories and how they have come to view forgiveness. Leading academics also make a significant contribution to the film. The showing will be followed with a conversation with the Director of the Film and some others.

This event has been sponsored by Irish Churches Peace Project.

To book, please email: [email protected] .

Event Free BUT donations welcome towards the cost of the event.  

‘Slighe na Beatha’ ‘The Path of Life’

‘You make known to me the path of life’. Psalm 16 v11.

A journey through the Psalms – an evening of reflection and music with Scottish Gaelic Psalm singers.

Saturday 7th February at 7pm in Skainos, 239 Newtownards Road.  

In many ways a journey through the Psalms reflects the various stages of grief including anger and despair before moving towards healing, forgiveness, acceptance and hope.  This event will journey through these various emotions using the words of the Psalms to explore where we are in Northern Ireland 16 years after the Good Friday Agreement.  Each person will have an opportunity to lament aspects of the past as we connect with ourselves as a people still recovering from the pain of ‘The Troubles’ accompanied by the beautiful and haunting sounds of the Gaelic Psalm Singers.

Last year the ‘Listening to Your Enemies’ event organised by the Four Corners Festival attracted unexpected publicity when a riot took place outside the Skainos building on the Newtownards Road in East Belfast.  An angry crowd had gathered to protest against guest speaker, ex IRA bomber Patrick Magee.  This year’s event will use the backdrop of the Psalms from the Old Testament to examine where we are in Northern Ireland in terms of healing.  Experience the ancient tradition of Gaelic Psalm-singing, a unique music form practised within the Presbyterian tradition which still survives in churches in the Western Islands of Scotland.  Join us on our journey through the many different areas of human experience and our relationship with God.

Event Free BUT donations welcome towards the cost of the event.   

A New Generation Of Peacemakers

Sunday February 8th at 7pm, in Sacred Heart Parish Centre, 1 Glenview Street. 

An evening of worship and thinking about a new generation of peacemakers. What is our young people’s vision for a city of peace and prosperity? Where do they think we need imagination and generosity? We will be hearing from the city’s youth and celebrating the end of the Festival led by the worship of Fitzroy’s Source group and North Belfast’s Search group. Jasper Rutherford, who works for Summer Madness and the Church Army and has a passion for energising our youth towards peacemaking, will be speaking.

Event Free BUT donations welcome towards the cost of the event.  

(Image: Fr Martin Magill, Linda Ervine, Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon, Chris Wilson, Rev Steve Stockman)

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