When the world’s your canvas

When the world’s your canvas

August 27, 2018 Blog, FrontPosts, Main menu 0 Comments
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST: We like to joke that Florida-based Hugh O'Neill is just your average fella from the Falls; a gifted musician, talented singer and audacious artist who regularly hosts painting workshops in Ireland. Hugh, pictured here by Thomas McMullan striking a pose in the former print hall of the Belfast Media Group, is slated to tell his story at this year's Belfast International Homecoming from 28-30 November when he will be joined by Lord Willie Haughey of Scotland, Jim Rooney, President of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, and many other luminaries who all share the desire to help build a brighter and better Belfast. The fact that the Belfast Basketball Classic will welcome eight US college teams over the same dates and that the Crossways Arts Festival will be in full flow make this a homecoming not to be missed.
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST: We like to joke that Florida-based Hugh O’Neill is just your average fella from the Falls; a gifted musician, talented singer and audacious artist who regularly hosts painting workshops in Ireland. Hugh, pictured here by Thomas McMullan striking a pose in the former print hall of the Belfast Media Group, is slated to tell his story at this year’s Belfast International Homecoming from 28-30 November when he will be joined by Lord Willie Haughey of Scotland, Jim Rooney, President of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, and many other luminaries who all share the desire to help build a brighter and better Belfast. The fact that the Belfast Basketball Classic will welcome eight US college teams over the same dates and that the Crossways Arts Festival will be in full flow make this a homecoming not to be missed.

 

 

Proof of civilization!

They say that the test of a civilized society is how it treats its prisoners. I’ve no doubt that’s the case but I have set my own yardstick for the cultural health of a civilization: the vitality of its independent bookshops.
Yes, bookshops. Remember them? Places where hulking great blocks of repurposed forest are sold to discerning patrons keen to feed the soul. I have my own Belfast favourites: An Ceathrú Póilí in that West Belfast Gaeilge oasis An Chultúrlann which boasts a dizzying array of books in Irish and, less prominently, in English. I love the fact that its name translates as The Fourth Policeman in a nod to Strabane Gaeilgeoir and literary mischief-maker Flann O’Brien.
And then there’s No Alibis in the University Quarter — God save us from any more quarters — where crime writers get pride of place. Of late, No Alibis has become a redoubt of the city’s literary life with book launches, movies and readings. I have taken to contacting the store via their simple but welcoming website and ordering books that have caught my eye.
I know Amazon could do with the business but supporting local gives me a warm feeling and keeps the wolf from the bookshop door.
And when my order comes in, it gives me a chance to visit No Alibis again to browse the bulging bookshelves and wonder how anyone could possibly prefer e-books to the real McCoy.
And speaking of the real, real thing, it was a pleasure today to visit the annual Mela festival of culture where our minority communities — led by Nisha Tandon of India and, for the past four decades and more, Belfast — show us how to really let our  hair down. The rain should have dampened spirits but I found the Mela faithful turned out in large numbers in the Botanic Gardens today to sample the global cuisine on offer and enjoy fab bands from every art and part.
So add that to our list: a city’s success should also be measured by the position it affords its minorities. Today, Belfast passed that test with flying colours.
There’s always tomorrow, of course, but we’ll face that challenge too with Gandhi’s riposte ringing in our ears, when he was asked what he thought about western civilization. “I think it would be a very good idea.”

 

DOUBLE-TROUBLE! Two great ambassadors for Belfast at Mela today, Julian Simmons and first citizen Deirdre Hargey
DOUBLE-TROUBLE! Two great ambassadors for Belfast at Mela today, Julian Simmons and first citizen Deirdre Hargey

 

Nisha Tandon ensures the Mela show goes on at the Botanic Gardens
Nisha Tandon ensures the Mela show goes on at the Botanic Gardens



About the Author

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is the Sinn Féin MLA for South Belfast, a publisher, entrepreneur and civic leader.