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NCH and International Literature Festival Dublin Presents Breaking the Silence

April 19, 2021

The National Concert Hall and International Literature Festival Dublin present an evening of words and song responding to the ongoing legacy of Ireland’s Mother and Baby Home Institutions on Saturday May 29th. This free event featuresElaine Feeney, Loah, Terri Harrison, The Mary Wallopers, Majella Moynihan, Noelle Brown, Philomena Mullen, Jess Kav, Alison Lowry plus more to be confirmed.

This extraordinary collaboration presents personal responses from artists to the ongoing dark legacy of Ireland’s mother and baby home institutions. Until recently, religious orders and the Irish state are deemed to have operated a network of institutions for the concealment, punishment and exploitation of women called ‘fallen’ and ‘offenders’, a secretive system that forcibly separated families. Through breaking silences and sharing testimonies, survivors of Ireland’s religious-run institutions have become catalysts of change. In the search for answers, their voices must continue to be heard.

Working with generational survivors of the institutions, this one-off live event is curated by author of the acclaimed Republic of Shame, Caelainn Hogan.

Robert Read, CEO of the National Concert Hall commented:

“We hope this event – which presents an array of artistic responses from survivors, artists and writers – will create a platform for reflection and healing that helps us to shape a path forward. I would like to thank The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media for their ongoing support in making these events possible.”

This special evening includes creative responses from poet, novelist, playwright and Creative at Tuam Oral History Project Elaine Feeney, and musician and survivor Terri Harrison, who was forcibly separated from her son through the religious-run institutions. Also contributing is actor, writer and adoption rights activist Noelle Brown, who co-wrote and performed in the play Postscript about searching for her origins.

Additional spoken word responses come from writer and academic Philomena Mullen, who grew up in Ireland’s institutional system and is working on a book for Skein Press. Also, author of A Guarded Life Majella Moynihan, who was forced to give her son up for adoption and charged with breaching Garda regulations for being pregnant outside of marriage and singer, writer and poet Jess Kav, who speaks about the generational impact of the institutions.

Musical responses on the night come from Irish – Sierra Leonean performer Loah, who starred as Mary Magdalene in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar and Dundalk folk outfit The Mary Wallopers.

The night also features the exceptional work of award-winning and internationally-renowned glass artist Alison Lowry from Co. Down. She uses an ancient technique called ‘pate de verre’, casting antique christening robes to recreate them in glass.

Presented by the International Literature Festival Dublin and the National Concert Hall.

International Literature Festival Dublin is a Dublin City Council initiative, kindly funded by the Arts Council.

A Free Livestream from the National Concert Hall 

Saturday 29th May 2021, 8pm GMT

View on National Concert Hall Youtube/Facebook or

The concert will be available for 7 days following the performance.

This event is supported by The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

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