Across the Lines

The Across the Lines programme at The Glens Centre hosts two cross-border creative projects ‘about the border’ online this week.

The Border Between Us visual storytelling event involving the streaming of eleven micro- films on Tuesday 23rdFebruary can be viewed on The Glens Centre YouTube channel  @ 7pm and we reveal a new Women’s Living History Pamphlet collaboratively created by  members of the Coiníní Women’s Group (Manorhamilton).

Twenty people from Leitrim and Fermanagh took part in these two twelve-week long lockdown projects through autumn/winter 2020/2021.

The Creativity Upskilling programme facilitated by Monica Corish and Rachel Webb, engaged people from different community backgrounds across the border, south and north in learning new creative skills, with a specific focus on the bringing together of words and images using every-day phone technology tools. The programme also created an opportunity for participants to engage with the theme ‘borders’, listening and sharing as part of a group throuhg words and image.  Speaking about working with a group of people from different community and cultural backgrounds, the writer and tutor Monica Corish said “It‘s been important to hear a range of different voices and to hear the variety of experiences of the Irish border, and how those experiences were shaped by history and geography, family and culture; as well as seeing the different ways participants engaged with ‘borders’ as a wider theme”. Whilst the two projects are distinct, emerging ‘themes’ mirror and echo one another. 

The second project, was undertaken as a creative ‘living history’ project and was undertaken by a group of women who come from “all around the world” and are now connected to the town of Manorhamilton. This work follows on from theri previous enquiry into the meaning and impact of the Irish Constitution and its accomodation of women today.   The group decided to look at the related issue of ‘the irish border’ with facilitators enabling a reflective and creative space for enquiry and story-telling. Participants shared, gathered their own stoires and reflections about the border, and engaged their imaginations around the future. Tutor Sonia Norris writing in the introduction to the pamphlet states “as we started out in our conversations there was a lack of acknowledgement around the impact of the Northern Irish border’, however ‘through the project recognition of the influence a geographical and politicised border has had on us as individual women grew’. For some women the sharing of stories of the border-past has been “cathartic” and for others the project provided an outlet to current on present day cricumstances of covid 19 prohibited border crossings and their impacts on daily family life.  

Feedback gathered from participants describe “looking forward to ‘a weekly time-out’,  the weekly get together online as being “the highlight of their week’ and “a real life-saver especially though lockdown”, and for all the opportunity to consider and reflect upon ‘the border’ was timely.

In making the shift to deliver community engagement programmes online, Ruth Gonsalves Moore, Coordinator of the Across the Linesprogramme, expressed her appreciation to the efforts of four tutors Monica Corish, Rachel Webb, Sonia Norris and Treasa Nealon who put in additional time creating engaging content addressing both peace-building goals and creative development needs.

At various stages through the projects participants hatched plans to meet on the Blacklion/Belcoo bridge to read each other’s work out loud! Plans that are on hold until when restrictions lift.  

The Glens Centre thanks the International Fund for Ireland for its ongoing support through CV19 and hopes these projects will further inform future cross community and cross border engagement.  

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