Rebeca Sanchez Gallego playing the castanets. Photo: Dimitry Germanov AKA Jago Studios

When Seville and Belturbet collide


It was hard not to be totally mesmerised by the incredible talent on show at the Belturbet Railway Heritage Museum for Culture Night 2021.

The surrealist realism of Nicole Dolan's 'Realm of a Female' loomed large across a series of five by six foot high paintings. "In your face," accepts the young art teacher, who previously exhibited at Jackie O'Neill's 'Dotti was a Deer' Gallery in Cavan Town. But that's the point. Intimate, honest, visceral, her portraits explore issues around body-shame, gender, sexism, and objectification, themes that transfix the viewer in their abstraction.

Alterations, by Nicole Dolan, from her series entitled Realm of the Female, on display at Belturbet Railway Heritage Museum as part of Culture Night 2021.

Several hung from the rafters, others were attached to the solid and immovable wall of the old railway station itself. Each appeared striking and defiant, in both colour and composition, changing in mood in the dying evening light.

Soon, from a flatbed carriage-turned stage, the playful percussiveness of Juan Jose Manzano's Spanish guitar began to resonate.

As if from nowhere, a distinctive staccato tap-tapping clap-clapping, heralding an artform that embodies a richness of history dating back to the Roma of southern Spain, intermingled down through centuries with the cultures of Sephardic Jews, the Moors, and migration from Rajasthan in north India.

Rebeca Sanchez Gallego was born and brought up in the sweet citrus smelling Seville, but since 2018, has made Belturbet her home. The flamenco singer and dancer made headlines last October when asked to perform 'El Amor Brujo' with RTÉ's National Symphony Orchestra- a musical suite by renowned composer Manuel de Falla.

Photo: Dimitry Germanov AKA Jago Studios

In endearingly clipped English, Rebeca explained how Culture Night was her first stage performance in almost a year, aside from singing to her nursing home residents. Such a hiatus certainly did not show.

Rebeca's spontaneity of movement, and the emotional depth of her singing voice soon filled the Railway platform. Her vocal harmonies frisked and skipped in perfect accord with Manzano's deft fret work, captivating all as if staring at the vast openness and stars of an Andalusian sky.