Creative Ardagh Produce Legend Anthology

creative ardaghThe partnership of Annette Corkery and Ann Gerety Smyth, Creative Ardagh celebrated its fourth anniversary in Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre in August 2015.

Through their varied careers and qualifications, (Arts Coordinator Annette has a BA (Hons) in Literature and Psychology and completed an MLitt thesis in NCAD, while Events Coordinator Ann has a BA (Hons) in European Business Studies (with Spanish) and is a Fellow with ACCA), the duo bring their complimentary skills together to create a place in which people of all ages, from toddler to experienced adult, are encouraged to explore their creativity, be inspired by the beautiful setting and create their own individual artwork.

As well as classes and drop-in art days, Creative Ardagh also provide curriculum-based school programmes and are the only accredited Discover Primary Maths and Science Centre in County Longford. They also cater for birthday parties and have a permanent art gallery space, where artists can exhibit.

“Going to school in Ardagh, its history and heritage were always important to me,” said Annette. “As one of the last class to start Junior Infants in the old school, the building has always been special to me too and so I am really excited to be working here.”

It’s fair to say that one of Creative Ardagh’s biggest achievements to date, excluding, of course, the visit of President Michael D Higgins in 2014, is their successful celebration and promotion of local traditions – such as Bilberry Sunday – myths and history. The most well-known of these projects is the work on the local legend of Midir and Etain.

“Midir is from Ardagh Mountain, Brí Leith,” the ladies explained. “And it is a beautiful legend which we have a passion for and wish to let the world know about.

“When the heritage centre was first established in the 1990s, a lot of work went into promoting the legend, as can be seen by the beautiful Eamon O’Doherty statue in the gardens and a big part of the heritage exhibition is dedicated to it.”

To further highlight and celebrate the tale, Ann and Annette decided to put together an anthology of works inspired by the legend.

“We approached Fergus Kennedy, County Longford Arts Officer, about producing an anthology and he was delighted with the idea. We also approached the Cruthú Arts Festival with the idea and it then became the community project for the festival.

“We were overwhelmed by the response, locally and internationally, with submissions from all over the world and from all ages,” they admitted.

With contributions from people ranging in age from 3 to 100, the anthology was launched during the Cruthú Arts Festival in July, on Bilberry Sunday, and is still onsale at Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre for just €7.50.

To celebrate the launch, the original art and photography pieces were displayed, and since then, the exhibition has remained in place.

Ann and Annette went on to acknowledge local artist Gordon Farrell, who let them to include three of his works in the exhibit for the time being, before concluding, “We received so many submissions for the first anthology and we are aware there are many more inspired works out there that we hope this will be the first of many. We will continue to promote the legend through our workshops, tours and plays and are working with other groups in the county including the tourism office on this.”

For more information on Creative Ardagh and the exciting projects, classes and events that they have lined up, visit www.creativeardagh.blogspot.ie or search for Creative Ardagh on Facebook.