Updated: 27/06/17 : 06:50:24
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Kiltyclogher festival to remember young people who died prematurely

A community in Co Leitrim will next weekend host a novel arts and music festival which will celebrate the lives of young people from the area who died prematurely.

Aimed at keeping the memories of lost loved ones alive, the StoneyWoods Festival in the village of Kiltyclogher, has been organised with the help of a number of bereaved families.

According to Marese McDonagh writing in The Irish Times some of the families are themselves musicians and will feature on the programme, alongside singer-songwriters Declan O’Rourke and Leitrim-based Mick Blake, Free Speaking Monkey, Belfast poet laureate Sinead Morrissey and local traditional music legends Ben Lennon and Maurice Lennon.

Unique features of the festival include a grief workshop and candlelit vigil while local people have made bunting with cloth belonging to relatives who have passed away.

Musician Fergus O’Dalaigh and his wife Alison, who lost their five-year-old son Ferdia last year, are among those involved in the project. “These festival is not about any particular family. It’s what we all share – we all have to at some point facing losing those we hold dear,” said Fergus.

Finding meaning

He said the festival had helped families to find a way of moving on and of finding some meaning in what had happened to them.

A guitarist and songwriter, Mr O’Dalaigh said the community was “blessed” to have so much creative talent who had been motivated to find a forum to celebrate their loved ones.

“I think we Irish do come together when there is a loss but then we all go our separate ways,” he said.

The organisers say that as well as music, poetry and family events there will be “quiet times” to give people space to reflect. Mr O’Dalaigh said he hopes the event will help other families who are dealing with loss.

“This is about trying to bring healing and trying to find some joy,” he said.