Derry City & Strabane - Island Voices autumn lecture series set for virtual return




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Island Voices autumn lecture series set for virtual return

02 September 2020

Derry City and Strabane District Council's popular autumn language and heritage lecture series - Island Voices – is set to return at the end of this month with an online programme of events exploring the shared heritage of Ireland and Scotland.   


Island Voices, now in its 10th year, is an annual lecture series which explores the languages, cultures and shared heritage of these islands focusing in particular on the Irish and Ulster-Scots traditions. The theme of this year's series is 'Éire and Alba: Island Sisters' and will explore the shared heritage of Ireland and Scotland, reflecting on the legacy of St Columba, whose 1500th anniversary will be celebrated in 2020-21, and on the language connections which exist between both countries.


Speaking ahead of the launch, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Brian Tierney, encouraged the public to take the opportunity to enjoy the talks series in its new format. "Island Voices is one of our most popular language and heritage offerings and we have been delighted to see high levels of public participation since the launch of the programme ten years ago," he explained.

"It has grown in strength and popularity and this is testament to the huge interest that people in this area have in our Irish and Ulster-Scots traditions. This year, like many other organisations, we have had to adapt our event for an online audience, and we're confident that this will allow us to bring our programme to even more people. If you haven't been to one of our talks before, this year presents a great opportunity to explore the series from the comfort of your own home."


Council Policy Officer (Irish Language), Pól Ó Frighil, who organises the event added: "This year we've focused the programme entirely on the relationship between Ireland and Scotland, inspired by the 1500th anniversary of the birth of Colmcille, an iconic figure in these islands and indeed throughout the world. As well as that, we plan to explore the very close relationships which exist between the languages of Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gàidhlig, and Scots and Ulster-Scots."


The first lecture in the series will be published on Thursday 24 September 24th and features archaeologist and medieval historian Dr Brian Lacey, whose talk 'Colum Cille and Adomnán: Lands, Languages and Literature', will explore the linguistic landscape at the time of Colmcille which featured a fascinating mix of Gaelic, Latin, Pictish, and the beginnings of early Welsh and of course, English.

On Thursday 22 October, the award-winning Scots poet Stuart A. Paterson presents 'Both Sides O The Sheugh' and will compare and contrast the situation of Scots in Scotland with Ulster-Scots in Ulster reflecting on how both languages provide us with a sense of history, place, identity and connection.


On Thursday 26 November, Dr Máire Ní Annracháin, professor of Modern Irish at University College Dublin, explores the Gaelic language connection and the literary tradition which endures between Scotland and Ireland in her talk 'Crossing the Sea of Moyle'.


The fourth and final talk in the series 'Beatha Cholm Cille: The Life of Colmcille' takes place on Thursday 17 December and will be delivered by Dr Niall Comer from Ulster University, who is currently engaged in a project to translate excerpts from Manus O'Donnell's famous 16th century text about the life of St Columba. This talk explores the various challenges faced by editors, historians and linguists when trying to make ancient texts talk more accessible to modern readers.


All lectures in the series will be published on the Council website and to our YouTube channel.


Further information is available by contacting is Pól Ó Frighil at This series is funded by Derry City and Strabane District Council's Good Relations Programme.