Déardaoin, Feabhra 17, 2011

Remembering “Going to the Lagan”


On the evening of Sunday 20th February, West Donegal will remember the days of the hiring fairs and “going to the Lagan” when the now well renowned Jonathan Burgess play 'Far Off Fields' will be staged in Dore Community Centre. The event, which is being supported by the Peace III Project and Donegal County Council, is an evening which will stir the memories of many people in the county of the stories of poverty which forced parents to hire out their children in order to survive and make ends meet. These children had to leave home at a young age to work, not returning home for months at a time, some working in very harsh conditions.

The story of the Kieran Quinn directed play, which is being staged by the Balour Arts Theatre supported by the International Fund for Ireland, tells of two children Jack and Niamh who are hired out as farm workers. A love story with a serious element to it, it looks at the harsh reality that children often faced working away from home, the mistreatment they sometimes had to endure and the difficult choices they had to make to survive.

Speaking of the event, organiser Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig said “It is great that the people in West Donegal will be able to experience this fantastic play and remember the stories of going to the Lagan. These are stories which almost every family in Donegal can relate to as so many people were hired out at these fairs as children due to the extreme poverty which people faced here in years gone by.”

“This is a very moving story but one which tells what was once unfortunately a familiar one. I think it is important for us to remember where we come from and what shaped us as a community and this play looks at one of the aspects of our history which saw many face hardship. It is an important piece of our history and should never be forgotten.” he said.

Thanking those involved in the event Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig added “Many thanks must go to Lisa Finn and the Balour Arts Theatre for staging this play and for bringing such a production to the area. I would also like to thank Dr Karin White of the Peace III Programme for her help and support, also Sarah Lapsley of Donegal County Council and indeed everyone who has helped to bring the production to the area.”

The play will be followed by a discussion on the subject with guest speakers Professor Liam Kennedy of the School of History and Anthropology, Queens University Belfast and equality and diversity consultant, Fiona Mc Gaughey. The event, to be held in Dore Community Centre, Upper Dore on Sunday 20th February, starts at 6.30pm sharp and admission is free.

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