Torch run and Beckett Festival to link county with 2012 Olympics

Published: 10 Nov 2011 15:000 comments

FERMANAGH will play its part in the London 2012 Olympics when the Olympic Torch passes through Enniskillen, Irvinestown and Fivemiletown on June 5 during the ten-week relay leading up to the games.

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The torch will be carried by 8,000 torchbearers and travel 8,000 miles across Britain.

At Monday night's meeting of Fermanagh District Council, Ulster Unionist Councillor Raymond Farrell welcomed the announcement. "This is very historic, I am delighted. It may help inspire our young people to get involved in sport," he said.

Independent Councillor Bernice Swift said it was both "very important" and "exciting" and DUP Councillor Alison Brimstone urged members of the public to "come out and support it".The news has also been welcomed by the Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, who said: "This will be our opportunity to be part of a truly historic occasion in a momentous year for the north. I encourage all communities to get ready to welcome the Torch and to be part of the celebrations ahead of the 2012 Games".

It also emerged this week that Enniskillen will place host to the World's first annual festival celebrating the life of Nobel Prize writer, Samuel Beckett, as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The Olympiad, which is spread over four years, is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. It's a chance, say organisers, to celebrate the games through dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation.

'Happy Days' (which starts next August 23 to 27) will take place every year in Enniskillen where Beckett attended Portora Royal School. The festival, which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad and coincides with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Enniskillen, will bring diverse communities together, mixing local and international audiences and artists.

It will feature the work of Beckett, with world and UK premieres of his major and lesser-known works; the influences on Beckett, including music and comedy; those Beckett has influenced, including Irish, UK and international writers, directors, actors, visual artists, musicians, comedians, circus artists and individuals prominent in their fields. There will also be a range of events reflecting Beckett's favourite sports.The full Happy Days artistic line-up will be revealed in April 2012, though some highlights of the 2012 Festival have been announced already.

They include:

-Robert Wilson directing and acting in Krapp's Last Tape, a UK and Irish premiere by a world acclaimed international Director presented in association with Change Performing Arts.

-Ian Bostridge singing Schubert's Winterreise, Beckett's most favoured piece of music.

-Antony Gormley will design a stage element (to form part of a Beckett production in Australia in 2013) which will be installed and publicly exhibited for the first time as part of Happy Days.

Atom Egoyan's kinetic artwork, Steenbeckett, an inspirational response to the role of film in our understanding of Beckett, plus World class writers; Edna O'Brien, Alice Oswald, Melvyn Bragg and John Banville.

Happy Days Founder and Artistic Director, Sean Doran said: "I am delighted to return to where my professional festival career began and where I had many rewarding artistic experiences as Artistic Director of the 1997 and 1998 Belfast Festivals".

Tourism Minister Arlene Foster, said: "Enniskillen International Beckett Festival is a perfect complement to the wide range of events that already take place around the Fermanagh Lakelands. Culture is a key ingredient that sets Northern Ireland apart from competing destinations, and festivals such as this are crucial in attracting visitors. Innovative events help to raise the profile of a destination and I have no doubt this initiative has the capacity to grow to a level where it can attract overseas tourists. It will benefit the local economy by generating additional spend on accommodation, hospitality and travel," she said. Chairman of Fermanagh District Council, Thomas O'Reilly said: "We are very excited about the inaugural Happy Days which includes a wide variety of arts and sporting events. Fermanagh is proud of its association with Samuel Beckett and it is fitting that this innovative Festival is taking place in Enniskillen, the county town".

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