Silent streets, venues, lives lead inside. We are still thinking about music and writing, still trying to use the arts to process what has happened.”
Saturday 6 March is International Women’s Day, and the opening quote sums up the new reality of life, not only in Ireland but around the globe. On such days as these it would be normal for people to gather and celebrate, remember and share memories, hopes and more.
Notes From a Quiet Land is an evocative title for an event that takes place on International Women’s Day, one that will hopefully lift the spirits of many. It is a free, online coming-together of some of Ireland’s most beautiful female voices to reflect on this time of silence. They will be marking the silence with the spoken word and with music.
The evening will be broadcast by the National Concert Hall (NCH) and is available free on their website. It can also be seen on their YouTube and Facebook pages, and the presentation will start at 8pm.
The show has been curated by the NCH’s head of programme planning, Gary Sheehan, and by the award-winning writer and broadcaster Sinéad Gleeson. In 2019, Gleeson released her first book Constellations, a collection of personal essays, and a very personal journey through illness. Last year, she edited the must-own The Art of the Glimpse: 100 Irish short stories, a book that should be in every Irish home.
This weekend’s cast includes the multi-talented Maria Doyle Kennedy. This singer, songwriter and actress has forged an impressive acting CV since she starred in The Commitments, an incredible 30 years ago. She has appeared in Father Ted, as Catherine of Aragon in The Tudors, Vera Bates in Downton Abbey and as Jocasta Cameron in Outlander on television, alongside many film roles. Her musical output has been no less prolific.
Gemma Dunleavy is a young Dublin singer, songwriter and producer. Her recording Up De Flats is a love letter to her north inner-city roots and was released last year, getting universal praise. Fehdah is a future-afro soul vocalist, producer and multi-instrumentalist on the frontline of the emerging Irish hip hop and electronic music scene. Aoife Nessa Frances is another singer-songwriter and musician from Dublin. Her debut album Land of No Junction was released just over a year ago and received widespread critical acclaim.
On the literary front, Anne Enright needs no introduction as one of Ireland’s leading writers in fiction and non-fiction. Her fourth novel, The Gathering, won the Booker Prize in 2007, while her seventh novel, Actress, was selected for the longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020. She was appointed as Ireland’s inaugural laureate for Irish fiction.
Tara Flynn is an actor and writer in theatre, radio and television and best known for her comedy work. She was a founding member of comedy singing group The Nualas. Annemarie Ní Churreáin is a poet from the Donegal Gaeltacht, and her published works include Bloodroot and Town.
Last, and by no means least, FeliSpeaks is a Nigerian-Irish poet, performer and playwright from Co Longford. Real name Felicia Olusanya, FeliSpeaks came to prominence last October when her poem Still was broadcast during a Prime Time special on the first six months of the COVID-19 crisis.