Achievements in Sport, Art, Drama – all in one day’s news about Northern Ireland!

I still have the exile’s old habit  of  registering  references in the News to home that lift the spirits rather than embarrass the hell out of me. Today must be a some kind of record. It may be parochial but it’s very gratifying. If there really is such a thing, it must be good for the image.

Although it was a painful watch on TV it was obvious that the Augusta crowd loved Rory as much for his vulnerability as his talent

McIlroy slipped all too easily out of the race.

On the practice green close by the first tee, the Northern Irishman – chasing destiny – had seemed relaxed, disregarding scientific tendencies and putting with a casual, relaxed tempo. At ease, and the roars that accompanied him to the tee box exceeded the more refined encouragement that greeted Reed a couple of minutes earlier. But, once the battle commenced, McIlroy was out-of-sorts

Northern Ireland’s Rhys McClenaghan beat England’s Max Whitlock to win his country’s first medal of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the pommel horse.

“Max has been my idol growing up and I’ve been watching him since 2010 when he was competing in the Delhi Commonwealth. I’ve always felt though that one day I could be up there with the best and beating them.”

Cathy Wilkes is from Dundonald but was  trained and is based in Glasgow. She has been chosen to represent the UK at the world’s biggest visual arts festival, the Venice Biennale.in 2019

Wilkes, an award-winning artist who attended Glasgow School of Art, is known for her sculptures and installations which often feature domestic items as well as mannequins and fabric.

What’s  Cathy about? .

The New York Times review of her recent MoMa Exhibition explains.

It wasn’t enough, for a Renaissance man, to create something beautiful. The real test was to make it look as if you hadn’t tried.

This has been an ambition of artists for centuries, but not for the Glasgow-based Irish sculptor and painter Cathy Wilkes — influential among her peers but too little known here — whose mastery takes precisely the opposite tack. Her art is an art of anti-sprezzatura: manifest effort and extreme care, all to create things that appear unheeded or disposable.

Best play in the Olivier awards,  The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth set in Co Armagh in the middle of the hunger strike

  • Best actress – Laura Donnelly for The Ferryman (Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre and Gielgud Theatre)
  • Best director – Sam Mendes for The Ferryman (Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre and Gielgud Theatre)

 

“A story about Northern Ireland in 1981 isn’t necessarily going to impress everyone,” said Laura:

Laura Donnelly was just a child when her uncle was taken away by the IRA, shot dead, and his body dumped in a bog — a story Butterworth retells in The Ferryman.

She plays a woman whose husband’s body is accidentally uncovered a decade after he was secretly buried — sparking a wave of violence and stirring up almost forgotten memories.

The Belfast-born star said telling the story of the victims, known as the Disappeared as usually no bodies were found, had been “extremely cathartic”.

She said: “My uncle, Eugene Simons, was one of the Disappeared. He was my mother’s brother and disappeared the year this play is set, 1981.

“He was found by accident in 1984 in a bog by a man walking a dog. My mum and many other members of my family are just grateful that it didn’t go on as long as some did — most other families had 10, 20, 30 years. It’s a very, very cruel thing

  I agree with both of the following reviews, although I found the end a bit too Quentin Tarantino   

 Gerard Lee in the Irish Times

Watching the play in the Gielgud Theatre recently, my wife and I had no sense whatsoever that the mostly British audience were somehow celebrating an evening of mocking Irish cultural stereotypes. To hear a character with an Irish accent proclaim of Margaret Thatcher:

“If she was standing here I’d fuckin’ take a knife from that drawer and I’d disembowel that smirking, sanctimonious, stone-hearted sow right here on this table, so I would.”

Well, to be Irish and hear that in a theatre in the heart of London creates a very particular sensation, so it does.

Sean O’Hagan from Armagh, in the Guardian

No one else seemed to mind the cliches and the stereotypes of Irishness abounding here: the relentless drinking, the references to fairies, the Irish dancing, the dodgy priest, the spinster aunts – or the sense that the play ties itself in knots tackling ideas of place, loyalty and community. Butterworth and Mendes fill the stage with noise, movement, songs and stories, but once that bravura energy had subsided, I was left with that familiar sense of unease, of dislocation. What I had witnessed, and in part enjoyed, was a play that revealed more about English attitudes to Ireland than it did about Northern Ireland.

 

 

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Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London