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Island Voices series returns to the Tower Museum for Autumn

02 September 2019

Derry City and Strabane District Council’s popular autumn series of free lunchtime lectures makes a welcome return to the Tower Museum later this month.

Island Voices is an annual series that explores the languages, cultures and heritages of these islands with a particular emphasis on the Irish and Ulster Scots traditions.

The theme of this year’s series is ‘Irish and Ulster-Scots: Language and Belonging’ and there are three talks in the programme running from September to November 2019.

A range of themes will be covered including; the interplay between the languages of English, Irish and Ulster-Scots in our place names; Ulster-Scots identity as expressed in the language and literature of the North of Ireland and the development and expansion of the Gaelic language throughout these islands over two millennia.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle, encouraged the public to take in the free lectures.

“Island Voices is an ideal opportunity for people to come together and hear from a diverse range of speakers and learn more about the languages that have shaped our history.

“This is a particularly special year for our languages as UNESCO has designated 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages and the lectures will explore how English, Irish and Ulster Scots have influenced our place names, language and literature.”

Pól Ó Frighil, Policy Officer (Irish Language) at Derry City and Strabane District Council, added: “This year we’ve focused the programme entirely on language and in particular, indigenous languages. Our indigenous languages are those languages that are considered to be ‘native’ to this region; in our case, Irish and Ulster-Scots. Island Voices has grown to become one of the most popular language events in the local cultural calendar and we’re delighted to have the continued support of our Good Relations team which helps fund the series”.  

The series begins on Thursday September 26th with a lecture entitled ‘Language, Identity and the Importance of Place Names’ by Mícheál B. Ó Mainnín, Professor of Irish and Celtic Studies (Queen’s University Belfast) who will consider the importance of local place names in the context of the International Year of Indigenous Languages from a variety of perspectives.
The following month on Thursday October 24th Dr Carol Baraniuk (University of Glasgow) will host ‘Disagreeably Scottish’ – Voices of the Ulster-Scots which will consider Ulster-Scots as an identity and how it is expressed in language and literary traditions within the north of Ireland.
Finally on Thursday November 28th ‘A Social History of the Gaelic language over two millennia’ by Dr AJ Hughes will examine the history of Gaelic in the context of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, plus the wider backdrop of Celtic and other languages in Western Europe.

All lectures in the series are free and will take place in the Tower Museum from 1-2pm on each of the dates – lunch will also be provided at 12.30pm.

Booking for the lectures is essential – so please ensure your place by contacting the Tower Museum on 02871 372411 or email [email protected].

Further information on any of the talks is available from Pól Ó Frighil, Policy Officer (Irish Language) with Derry City and Strabane District Council at [email protected]

You can visit the Island Voices Learning Zone at