History Brought to life in Virginia - May bank holiday weekend
Virginia’s 400th anniversary of its founding got into full swing on the May Bank Holiday Week-end. An estimated 2,500 persons attended the combined events over the entire week-end.
Celebrations started with a memorable “verbatim play” written by Padraic McIntyre and performed by local actors, singers and musicians in the Ramor Theatre to over 120 people on Thursday 3 May. The script of the play was based on verbatim interviews with local characters, reflecting on key events in the life of the town since the 1920s. The actors received a standing ovation from a visibly moved audience.
This was followed on Friday 4 May by an exhibition of the unique and priceless Virginia “Viking” Brooch in the County Museum, Ballyjamesduff, and a lecture on ‘The Wisdom and Wit of the Cavan People – Ulster Folklore’, given by Professor Seamus MacGabhann (NUIM) to an audience of well over 100. An estimated 650 persons viewed the brooch over the week-end. County Museum Curator, Ms Savina Donohoe, noted that “… visitors came from all over the county and further afield. The pride of the people on seeing this beautiful treasure returned to the County was visible in the faces of the estimated 650 persons who viewed it. Pupils from local national and secondary schools were among those who came to see it”. She expressed her thanks to the National Museum of Ireland who loaned the brooch for the week-end and to the continued support of Cavan County Council the important work of the county museum.
Over the week-end too, the Transition Year students of Virginia College presented an outstanding visual and audio exhibition of the history of the town, located in the context of wider world events. Local history teacher Ms Eimear O’Reilly, under whose supervision the Transition Year Students developed the exhibition said, “What we tried to do and achieve here, working closely with the Virginia 400 committee and the County Museum, was to reflect the complex circumstances – local and international – which surrounded the founding of Virginia and the wider Ulster Plantation”. She praised the work of the students. Hundreds of people viewed the exhibition in the Virginia College, especially on Sunday 6 May.
On the same day at 2pm at the nearby Lough Ramor foreshore in Virginia a re-enactment of a Viking raid took place with all required historical detail, including an impressive Viking long boat piloted by duly marauding Vikings. In the re-enactment a local Irish village, populated by candlemakers, musicians, and other craftsmen was attacked by Viking raiders sailing from the Munterconnaught side of the Lake.
Virginia Development Association and Virginia 400th Anniversary Chairperson John O’Reilly stated that “it was an immense undertaking with a strong fun side, and an occasion of the citizens of Virginia, whatever their origins, to celebrate the community and shared history they have”.
The wider Virginia 400th anniversary celebrations will continue throughout the rest of the year. A large part of the programme is directly supported by the European Union’s PEACE III Programme and there is a strong emphasis on celebrating the shared community that this plantation town now is, recognising its diverse origins while jointly facing current and future challenges as a cohesive, vibrant and inclusive community.
Further Events taking place in the near future include the June bank holiday weekend when art lovers and painters alike will descend on the town for Virginia’s first ever ‘Plein Air’ (Open Air) Painting competition. Participants will paint in designated locations and framed pieces will be on display on Monday 4 June for the judging and eventual sale of the paintings. There will be live demonstrations in the art of portrait and watercolour painting and paint-outs in Mullagh and Virginia.
Virginia 400 Photographic Competition, in conjunction with Lynch’s Pharmacy, Virginia/Oldcastle, is a chance for amateur photographers to capture the essence of the town. Take your picture to Lynch’s pharmacy in the Virginia Shopping Centre by 9 June.