The Waking of Brian Boru Community Project

‘The Waking of Brian Boru Community Project’
‘The Waking of Brian Boru’ was a community project which offered local people of
all ages and abilities in Armagh an opportunity to reflect upon and engage with the
one thousand year anniversary of Brian Boru’s death this year.
Initial discussions between creative practitioner Dr Sally Walmsley of SoundMór and
local people raised questions as to why Brian Boru was even buried in Armagh, and
so it was decided to hold an event to encourage people to think who Brian Boru was
and why Armagh was so important to him.
A series of music
performance workshops was held in local institutions, all of which contributed to
the project through the active involvement and knowledge-sharing by
representatives from Armagh County Museum, Armagh Observatory, Armagh Public
Library and No 5.
The work was carried out with three groups; one made up of primary school pupils
from the seven primary schools in the City of Armagh; another of students from the
Drumming Department of Lisanally Special School and from the Drama Department
at St Catherine’s College, Armagh; and the third of representatives from local
community groups, including Armagh’s U3A, Armagh Men’s Shed, the local
unemployed group, visually impaired and deaf impaired groups, and the autism
group. All came together to create a community-inspired performance on the Hill of
Armagh in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 May
Brian Boru was killed after the Battle of Clontarf on 23 April 2014 and was buried in
Armagh after a twelve-day wake. The performance piece on the Hill of Armagh was
a reflective multi-media performance which marked the one thousandth anniversary
of his final arrival in Armagh for his wake and burial. Funded by Armagh City
and District Council and managed by Armagh Public Library, the ‘Waking of Brian
Boru’ project involved some 250 residents of Armagh, and had audiences of
approximately 250 each night.
Jill McEneaney, Theatre Director at the Marketplace Theatre, Armagh and the
representative of the funder, Armagh City and District Council said: ‘I wanted to tell
you how wonderful I thought the performance was on Thursday. It was such a delight
to see so many talented local people from all walks of life coming together in one
performance to tell such an extraordinary story. Really very moving. The enthusiasm
of the participants was palpable and the way each told their part of the story in their
own way was an inspiration. Thank you so much for bringing the project to us and
please convey my thanks and congratulations to all involved, especially to Sally who
worked hundreds of little miracles to bring together one amazing piece of theatre’.
Comments from some of the performers included:
‘It was a privilege to be involved in this’.
‘Very emotional’.
‘I never thought that I would perform in public in this way to this size of audience’.