Derry born author and journalist Susan McKay will open the 17th Scariff Harbour Festival at Waterways Marina tonight (Friday 2nd August) to which all are welcome.
She will be joined on stage by the newly appointed Acting Head of Waterways Ireland, John McDonagh and will also address an audience at Scariff Library on bank-holiday Saturday afternoon.
Best known as a TV commentator and opinion columnist, she grew up in Derry at the start of the Troubles and lived through the tensions and violence on her own doorstep. As a consequence, understanding violence and its legacy underpins much of her life’s work in a variety of professional spheres.
‘Susan McKay has come to understand not just the tragedy of Northern Ireland but the tragedy of all violence,’ said Harry O’Meara of the Scariff Harbour Festival Committee. ‘We are delighted that she is joining us in Scariff to keep the links with the North alive and build on the tradition developed over the years of helping us to understand its complexities,’ he said.
The devastating stories of people affected by violence are documented in her books Bear in Mind these Dead and Northern Protestants – An Unsettled People. People still live with injuries, some are wracked with guilt, many are involved with drugs, alcohol and addictions. Susan McKay has given voice to people caught up in this maelstrom
Her work for the Rape Crisis Centre and her book ‘Sophia’s Story’ …. the story of Sophia McColgan, details the horrors of familial abuse and became one of the most acclaimed books in modern times. She has also written ‘Without Fear’, a book on the history of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and has been a Director of the National Women’s Council. Her current work in progress is a book on the ‘Border’.
The Festival has, from the very beginning, established and retained firm links with Northern Ireland. Underpinning these links was the setting up of Waterways Regional Headquarters in Scariff following the Good Friday Agreement way back in the era when Síle de Valera was Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Since then Scariff Harbour has seen many significant developments and with further developments in the offing for Holy Island and the blueway activities around Lough Derg, the harbour and lake are becoming focal points on the inland navigable water systems.
Scariff Harbour Festival 2019 in association with Waterways Ireland runs from Thursday 1st August – Sunday 4th August. It opens with a Christie Hennessey Tribute Concert performed and produced by RTE’s Aonghus McAnally on Thursday (August 1st) at the Church of the Sacred Heart.
Other musical events include Riptide Movement, Na Fianna, Sean & Conor Price, Rofi James, Country & Irish at the Harbour with Michael O’Brien and Philomena McGovern, the Gearóid Devanny Band and 3 time All-Ireland winners, the Shandrum Céili Band.
There are nature, bio-diversity and scenic walks, boat tours and library talk; fishing and fitness, open days at McKernan Woollen Mills and Scariff Fire Station & an open-air mass, skills workshops, crafts & chainsaw sculptures, riverside park adventures; kids fun zone and the unique game of three halves, selection of Queen of the Waterways and the launch of a new kayaking club, the East Clare Paddlers.
*In the past, the Festival has been opened by Mark Durkan, the late David Ervine, Brian Keenan, Trevor Ringland, Nell McCafferty, the late Martin McGuinness, Charlie Bird among others. In 2016, Jo Berry, the daughter of the late Sir Anthony Berry MP & republican activist Pat McGee jointly opened the Festival and gave workshops on reconciliation and a library talk. Michael Harding did the honours in 2017 and former Armagh footballer, Oisin McConville performed the Opening and Library talk last year.