The Days of Surprise - Signs On!

The Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar is delighted to present an Irish Sign Language interpreted performance by renowned Irish poet Paul Durcan on Thursday 3rd December 2015, marking International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Paul Durcan is one of Ireland's foremost and most prolific poets. Full of quirky roguishness, and  renowned for his dramatic and incantatory reading style, Durcan has multiple published poetry collections including "A Snail in my Prime", "Crazy About Women", "Greeting to Our Friends in Brazil", the Whitbread Prize winning "Daddy, Daddy" and his most recent "The Days of Surprise". He was awarded the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards. Paul Durcan grew up in Dublin and Mayo, and is a member of Aosdána.

For this reading / performance, Irish Sign Language interpreter and Louisburgh native Mairéad Hegarty is working with Paul Durcan to develop Irish Sign Language interpretations of the poems he has selected from his collection "The Days of Surprise". Mairéad is a hugely skilled Irish Sign Language interpreter and throughout October and November she is also working with a group of Mayo-based Irish Sign Language users, both deaf and hearing, to collaborate on developing interpretations and a group signing of Durcan's poems "Earthquake off Mayo" and "The Laughing Receptionist in the GP's Surgery" which will be performed on the night. "It's a wonderful opportunity for us to raise awareness of Irish Sign Language, a beautiful visual language which often doesn't get the recognition it deserves" observes Mairéad enthusiastically.

Thirteen Transition Year students at St Joseph's Secondary School are also getting involved. They have chosen three of Paul Durcan's poems from the 2018 Leaving Cert curriculum, and have worked in partnership with Mairéad to develop Irish Sign Language Interpretations of the poems. Local Irish Sign Language teacher Tara McNally is working with them to perfect a group performance of the poems which they will present to Paul Durcan on the night of his reading. One of the students commented that working on the poems "showed us the breadth of sign language. It's an extensive language with lots of different signs, not just spellings"

"We're delighted to be involved in this project" says Orla Henihan, the Linenhall Arts Centre's Arts Access Officer. "Our mission statement is 'Arts for All at the Linenhall' and we take this very seriously. It's just wonderful to be engaging with deaf people in our community. We are also really grateful to Mayo County Council's Arts Office for their support for the project through their UPSTART scheme, without which the project would not have been possible. We hope that lots of people will be able to come along on the night and enjoy the beauty of poetry and Irish Sign Language".

Tickets for the performance are €16 / €14 concession / €10 (ISL users)

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