Belfast primary schools embrace traditional Irish music in diverse showcase event
Traditional Irish music is being embraced by children from all backgrounds, particularly in the most diverse areas of the north.
Of the 17 children in the trad music group from St Malachy's Primary School in the Market area of Belfast, 16 are from backgrounds other than Irish, largely from India.
It does reflect the overall demographic of the city centre school with many of the parents recent immigrants working for BT or other large companies based in Belfast, said Sinead Rafferty, the school's music co-ordinator.
Ten schools, 200 pupils, took part in the event at 2 Royal Avenue, the city centre arts space. But five or six told the organisers they were not quite ready to perform after the disruption caused by the Covid pandemic, said Ray Morgan, chair of the music school.
Rebuilding after Covid is happening at St Malachy's s as the group only started in February this year, said Ms Rafferty. Prior to the pandemic, bodhrans and guitars were part of the mix but the group decided to go with tin whistles for this performance, the teacher said.
At St Malachy's, there is also an African drums ensemble that plays with the traditional musicians, with the first gig this year on St Patrick's Day. "We do encourage and celebrate all the cultures," said Ms Rafferty.
The very large number from diverse backgrounds is somewhat unique to a number of Belfast city centre schools, including Botanic in the Holyland area and Blythefield off Sandy Row.
The Glengormley school of music "will definitely be facilitating another performance opportunity next year," said Mr Morgan.