Good on the Derry Now website for going to town to commemorate the centenary of Fheis Dhoire Cholmcille
Derry Feis is celebrating its 100th birthday this Easter. To mark the special occasion, we are publishing a series of articles titled: Mo thuras go Fheis Dhoire Cholmcille 2022.
Today, Fearghal Mag Uiginn, head of the Irish at Thornhill College and presenter of BBC Radio Ulster’s Blas Ceoil, describes his personal journey to Derry Feis 2022.
Describing Feis Dhoire Cholmcille as the “cultural heartbeat of the city”, Fearghal said that was recognition of what the Feis stood for, in particular, the special importance it gave to the use of the Irish language and verse and song.
But that’s not quite the whole story. I never took part in it, although I went to a Catholic music teacher, the well know Mrs Cafolla. All her pupils Catholic and Protestant competed in Londonderry Feis the week before, in the standard light classical repertoire of singing solo and in choirs, instrumentals and small orchestra. Eminent judges took part such as Brian Boydell Professor of Music in Trinity, Dublin and Eric Thiman Dean of the Music faculty of London University. The Feis ended in a grand Prizewinners’ Concert in the Guildhall on Saturday night. As a small boy I used to wonder why I wasn’t part of the Gaelic version the following week; it seemed great fun, especially for me as I played the fiddle.
Now Londonderry Feis seems completely forgotten.
Why not bring it back? The two festivals don’t compete, they’re naturally complementary. And this time, Prods should be able to take part in both, as Catholics always did.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London