Attending the Solidarity Dinner at St Kieran's College
Last weekend was Yulefest Culture weekend with an intercultural community focus in Kilkenny.
The Kilkenny Public Participation Network with its relationship with Communities across the County sponsored a number of events over the weekend. The celebrations began with a multifaith service in St Kieran’s College.
Representatives of eight different Kilkenny based faiths and their congregation took part in the service with reflections offered on the theme of Peace and Unity. The service was opened with a welcome address by Cathaoirleach David Fitzgerald followed by representatives of the faith groups.
Saturday kicked off with free workshops in Mac Donagh Junction. Children’s author Paula Leydon and Artist Marie Lee helped children to create their own magical piece of Christmas art and pros on a bedside lamp which illuminated their work. Artist Theresia Guschlbauer held an open workshop in the middle of the shopping centre where young and old braided materials that were later turned into an amazing Unity Wreath for the Community Christmas Tree.
Throughout the day groups of visitors were given a rare treat and welcomed into the James Stephens barracks, where Santa’s elves had been busy at work. The barracks was transformed into a Christmas wonderland of lights and decorations.
The visitors were treated to a guided tour of the museum and cells where a very naughty elf was locked up before being given the opportunity to cosy up to Fionn the Irish Wolf hound for photos. The guests were then treated to mulled wine and treats in the officers’ mess while they watched a pre-recorded message from veterans and emergency service personnel who know what it is like to be away from their family at Christmas Time. Yulefest are grateful to Captain Larry Scanlon and his staff.
At 5pm in the spectacular Christmas gardens of Butler House, crowds congregated with hot chocolate and mulled wine for the Unity Gathering. Mayor Michael Doyle welcomed the crowd and the performances kicked off with eight-year-old Angelica from Poland representing St John’s Primary school who performed two Irish dance routines.
The St John’s school chamber choir followed and performed an array of Christmas carols. Abbie Peacock representing the Abbey College, Ferrybank gave a beautiful solo performance. And the highlight of the evening was the specially formed Good Shepherds Choir where residents, staff and friends of the hostel came together to perform traditional carols where the crowd joined in creating a wonderful Christmassy and feel good atmosphere.
On Sunday morning the county woke up to a blanket of snow making it ‘feel a lot like Christmas’ however for safety reasons the ‘Star project’ the community connection project reveal party in Mac Donagh Junction was postponed until next Sunday at 4pm. This project has seen young and old up and down the county decorating stars for the Community Tree in the shopping centre and while the party hasn’t taken place yet the stars are now on the tree and well worth a visit. Pop along and see if you can guess how many stars are on the tree?
At 4pm St Kieran’s College once again played host this time to a Solidarity Dinner. This was a Celebration of culture and friendship through the sharing of food. Despite the guests invited from direct provision centres being unable to travel due to the weather a great crowd walked to the dinner and a beautiful afternoon was had.
Food was donated by restaurants in Kilkenny and guests brought dishes to share. In the end, nothing went to waste and both direct provision centres held their own solidarity dinners making it three dinners in total.
On display through out the festival in Butler House you can visit the beautiful Christmas Village created by the young people at Ossory youth and the Christmas Story box created by the parent’s intercultural art group of St John’s Primary School.
A magnificent wall hanging of ‘Christmas around the World’ by the same group can also be visited in Rothe House, which is also home to the beautiful reindeer garden and well worth a visit over the festival.