Newry Arts Centre Film Club (NACFC) has been formed in 2007 by a group of volunteer film enthusiasts to bring a range of films not usually shown by commercial cinemas to the residents of Newry and the surrounding area.
The Diamond Jubilee Newry Drama Festival kicks off tonight at 8 pm in Newry Town Hall with a witty farce, Stella by Starlight, performed by Bart Players from Belfast. Bart are perennial favourites in Newry.
All the action takes place in a single night in the home of contemporary Irish couple, Dermot, a down-sized corporation employee and his wife Stella, a former bank teller. They have a teenage daughter Tara. They have recently left the big city for a new life in the remote countryside.
There is some light entertainment afterwards in the Arts Centre – which we must miss, as our presence is required at the birthday party of a recent contributer, Peter McGrath Jnr.
As you know, the Kilnasaggart Stone is the oldest inscribed Christian Standing Stone in Ireland. That of course is less than half the story.
We have no direct evidence of its antiquity for stone is not subject to radio-carbon dating or any of the other scientific methods recently developed. Some scholars ascribe to ancient Celtic Ogham script the diagonal slashes to be found at the back and near the base of the stone.
The legend inscribed on its front (in Latin, or a mix of Gaelic and Latin) ‘this place Ternoc son of Ciaran the Little, assigned to the keeping of the Apostle Peter’ sets the inscription itself to the second decade of the eighth century of the Christian calendar. There is a distinct air of exorcism about the over-adornment of the stone with crosses and a similarity of the stone to the Long Stone nearby at Ballard and many others in the vicinity and indeed still to be found scattered in remote districts all over Ireland (Ta to John Macan, Oz, for his Guestbook elucidation!). Many of these, including Kilnasaggart, have a distinct phallic appearance and were probably pagan or druidic fertility symbols. This makes it some millennia in situ.
Comment was earlier promised on the perilous state of survival of one of the longest lasting traditions in our town, the social club.In the nineteenth century, the middle classes had their hotels and private Clubsfor their exclusive entertainment.The working men’s clubs filled a niche for the other five eighths.
In Northern Ireland, these often catered mainly for one section of our divided population, and indeed, also for men only.I still remember clearly the furious debate that raged on the admission of women!I recall too, being ‘chosen’ by a friend for the more exclusive branch rather than the everyday club membership of one nationalist-minded body.The ‘swearing-in’ ceremony had me in stitches, literally, and I was ignominiously dumped.Now that club cannot get sufficient customers to pay the bar-staff’s wages.
Clubs In Newry
There was a time, not so long ago, that they paid social benefits – such as sickness allowance – to working members.The other ‘nationalist’ clubs are similarly bereft of regular support. St Catherine’s committed hari kari by morphing to Bosco and flitting to Water Street.
Shamrocks have long ago dropped Saturday Night music and are lucky to attract ten on this weekend night.Mind you, when there was recently a vote taken on the admission to membership of the police service, ‘members’ in Mercedes and BMWs appeared in droves, to push their point of view: those ‘members’ who never stand in the club premises, or help with teams, but keep up the subscription, just for such a case!What use are members like that?
The Catholic Workingmen’s Club dropped the Catholic, admitted women and ignored the ‘working men’ label, and still cannot attract members.There is one night a year when food is laid on, a free drink provided etc. where members more than recoup their fee.It’s the only remaining packed house.People were being admitted last New Year’s Eve, up to and after midnight.What does that tell you?
The Hibs cannot even produce a quiz team any more.The Indo has recently invested heavily in extensive renovations, but the gamble is unlikely to pay.Out of town clubs are faring little better, despite better community spirit.The Protestant Clubs, Henry Thompson Memorial, Masons, Hockey, Rugby, NewryTown are similarly blighted for lack of support.What has happened?
We will speculate on that soon.Meanwhile expect them all to fall like ninepins in the coming decade.It’s an evens bet we will be less a few this time next year!
‘Fools rush in’, they say, and here’s this fool rushing in again with his predictions for the Amateur Drama Festival, despite the fact that we have not yet seen Phoenix (tonight with ‘Da’), Bart (tomorrow with Lady in the Van), or Lurig (Blood Brothers).