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Manannan MacLir returns to the water in showcase spectacular

13 July 2018

Manannan MacLir will return to the water flanked by The Gaels in a breath-taking ‘epic’ procession as part of Foyle Maritime Festival’s showcase finale ‘Voyages’ on Friday, July 20.

Sharon Meenan, Arts Officer from Derry City and Strabane District Council which has put together the packed festival programme, said: “The Epic Voyage procession will feature performers from across the city and symbolises the return of our Voyagers to the waves. North West Carnival and Sollus Cultural Promotions always bring great energy to their performances.  The procession performers will be joined by artists from Studio 2 and CCÉ Baile Na Gcailleach on the Tall Ship Kaskelot which becomes a unique and wonderful stage for the evening ahead of the illuminated parade of light on the river and fireworks display. We’re very excited for all the performers involved.”

The Celtic God of the water will be centre stage in a stunning procession which sees Irish and Ulster-Scots cultures fuse when they perform on the quay before boarding the waiting Tall Ships, The Phoenix and The Kaskelot.

Created and co-ordinated by NW Carnival, Jim Collins from the group said: “Given that the theme of this year’s Foyle Maritime Festival is voyages, we thought it would be nice to creatively try to explore that. Manannan MacLir embodies everything nautical and draws on local lore and legend. Our procession is effectively taking him on a journey along the riverfront and onto a boat.

“He will be accompanied by local musicians and artists, including two female goddesses and members of Sollus Highland dancers and Bready Pipe Band.

“Leading the way will be eight lantern bearers, each representing a voyage. One will be a Tall Ship symbolising the Mountjoy, the boat famed for breaking the boom during the Siege of Derry. There will also be a gold boat to represent the Broighter Hoard. The gold boat is believed to have been an offering from the druids to Manannan MacLir. A scallop and a squid will represent sea creatures and sea life.

“We regularly deliver carnival parades during the Spring and Halloween carnivals but this is something different because it’s not a large parade. It’s also the first time we have combined dancers with pipers and drummers, not only highland dancers but contemporary dancers so it’s a cultural fusion. We’ll also be making our way through the throngs but it’s something we’re looking forward to.”

Cholmcille Pipe Band will flank the procession as they board the boat where they will be joined by Cholmltas.

Georgina Kee-McCarter is the dance teacher with Sollus Highland Dancers and she will be one of the 10 highland dancers in the procession along with two contemporary dancers, Nadine Hegarty and Marie Morrison.

Georgina said: “This is something a bit different from the serious and traditional dances and costumes that we usually do. Our youngest dancer taking part is 13.

“It’s been relaxed so far but it will get a bit more intense over the next few days.

“It will be different moving through the crowd, I’m hoping we can get on board the boat gracefully, but it’s all very exciting. Who knows what’s going to happen, we have a plan but we are going to be adaptable.

“I always love the Foyle Maritime Festival, walking up and down the quay, it’s always so busy, so to get a chance to dance on the Friday night before the fireworks go off, it’s brilliant. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Voyages showcase event begins at 8 pm on Friday, July 20, 2018 with a wide variety of events taking place all along the quayside. The Epic Voyage of Manannan MacLir will begin at 9.30 pm in front of the council offices before moving along the quay. A Parade of Light on the river will take place as darkness falls, followed by a pyrotechnic display on the Peace Bridge and a double fireworks display on the River Foyle at 11 pm. Please dress appropriately.

Foyle Maritime Festival begins on Saturday, July 14 and runs until the Clipper 2017-18 Race Yachts depart from Foyle Marina on Sunday, July 22 for the final leg of their journey to Liverpool. Highlights include the Seafood Kitchen and Trail, On the Water activities, concerts at Ebrington Square and various music venues along the quay, a city beach and picnic area, markets and amusements and heritage and STEM marquees. For a full programme, visit: www.foylemaritime.com