Cathal Buí and ancient Breifne

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 23rd June, 2010 5:00pm

Cathal Buí and ancient Breifne

Music is a huge part of the Cathal Buí festival...

If you want to celebrate an link to the ancient territory of Breifne, the area comprising Cavan, Leitrim, and south Fermanagh, Blacklion is the place to be this weekend, for the 13th annual Cathal Buí Community Arts and Heritage Festival.

It opens tomorrow, Thursday, June 24 with a night of music and dance in Blacklion Resource Centre and concludes on Monday with a Geopark Safari through Cuilcagh Mountain Park during the day and a monster raffle later in the Bush Bar.

In between, visitors will find anything from traditional, singing, storytelling and poetry readings to bi-lingual geo-archaeological field trips, a walk and talk in Moneygashel (to examine stonework from the Neolithic age to the twentieth century), a car treasure hunt, children's magic and puppet show and disco, and art workshops for adults and children.

This year the festival committee welcome back Mickey MacConnell, the singer and songwriter from Bellanaleck on Saturday from 9pm at Mac Nean Resource Centre, and Mike Lally (Miley from Glenroe), who performs in the play God's Official, presented by Dublin City Theatre Company on Sunday at 8.30pm in MacNean Resource Centre (call Ena 071-9853082 for tickets, €15).

The opening event includes the choral group Together one Voice, traditional Irish music and Shannean set dancers. On Friday the Cross Community Peace and Reconciliation Project, with Moybrone Pipe Band and music by children from Killinagh and Florencecourt schools will be launched, as well as a DVD of local personal accounts of the Troubles.

There will be traditional music with Martin Donohoe and NYAH too. Seamus O hUltachain leads the guided tour of Moneygashel on Saturday (meet at Gowlan Church at 11.30am), and the All Ages Drumming Workshop conducted by Ruach Rhythms is in the Market House that morning (10am to noon).

Jim Fee and Maria Bagnoli host a children's art workshop (2-4pm) in the MacNean Resource Centre and Eddie McNulty takes an art workshop at the Belcoo Community Centre at the same time - outdoors if weather permits.

Mickey MacConnell and his band Old Age and Treachery play in the MacNean Resource Centre from 9pm on Saturday, and to clear the head visitors can enjoy Megalithic Mania, the geo-archaeological field trip with Seamus O hUltachain and Gaby Burns (meet at the Burren Forest entrance at 1.45pm) on Sunday. At 3pm that day, the treasure hunt starts from Fairgreen, Blacklion and you can look after the soul with the interdenominational prayer service, followed by musical entertainment at Lough MacNean Park from 6pm.

Sunday will close with the play God's Official by Robert Farquhar starring Mick Lally, George McMahon and Edwin Mullane, in the MacNean Resource Centre at 8.30pm.

The Land Rover geopark safari through Cuilcagh and a bus tour of geopark sites, including lunch in Belturbet, are on Monday (book your seat at 071-9853082). The monster raffle and treasure hunt prizegiving are at the Bush Bar from 10pm, by which time everyone should be worn out with all the fun they'll have had!

Art exhibitions at the MacNean Resource Centre and Market House run from Thursday to Sunday, and there'll be music in the pubs each night. Some events have admission charges but many are free!

PS The link to the ancient territory of Bréifne..? Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna (c1680-c1756), according to, was a carter, a transporter of goods with horse and cart, throughout Bréifne.

He was an Irish-speaking, ballad-singing entertainer for a totally Irish-speaking community of poor people living at or below subsistence in the early 18th century. Cathal probably carried the nickname Buí due to his sallow skin, the website says.

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