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Winter Solstice Festival 2017-Michael J. Murphy Winter School

Once again Cuimhneamh are delivering another exciting Michael J. Murphy Winter School. The theme of this year’s Winter School is ‘Borders and Traditions.’

Once again Cuimhneamh are delivering another exciting Michael J. Murphy Winter School.  The theme of this year’s Winter School is Borders and Traditions.’ This is to pay homage to Michael J. Murphy, the celebrated folklorist, writer, photographer, broadcaster and socialist republican, as probably the most independent mind ever to come out of South Armagh.

The school will open on Friday, November 24th at 12-30 pm when there will be two exciting presentations on ‘Pavhees’ and ‘The Goatmen of South Armagh’. Both of these subjects have a strong link to Michael J. as many of his ancestors were pavhees and his father was one of the South Armagh goatmen. In addition, Michael’s very first broadcast for BBC Radio was in 1937 on the subject of the bringing of goats from Connaught to Scotland and England.

Raymond Werner of the Old Irish Goat Society will speak, with the aid of slides and a stuffed goat(a few live goats may also turn up)about the DNA tracing of the old Irish goats from Connemara to London and the South East of England. There isn’t an English goat that is not a first cousin or a descendant of our own nanny goat. If you come to listen to this expert you will never look on the Slieve Gullion goat in the same light again.

Of course, the goatmen were the brothers of the pavhees and Seamus Murphy of Dernaroy, Dromintee, South Armagh, is ideally placed to demonstrate the life of a pavhee because all of his ancestors on both sides travelled the world from the Arctic to Tasmania and all points in between selling cloth of all descriptions. Indeed, according to Michael J. Murphy himself, the cloth was often made in Slieve Gullion Mills, Ireland ,and shipped to the Americas on the ‘SS Dromintee’. This ship, as the pavhee song states, ‘never left a dockyard, but she sailed on every sea’. What sort of a ship had such versatility? He also wrote a very well-crafted story called ‘Pavhees’ which appears in his short story collection ‘The Rising of Yella’ Ned and Other Stories’ published in 1992.

There is no more interesting place than South Armagh, so come along and educate yourself on Friday afternoon. But that’s just for starters. More on this outstanding winter school next week.



11.30am: Launch of DVD: Mullaghbane Primary School Local History Project.

12.30pm – 2.30pm: Raymond Werner of the Old Irish Goat Society : ‘The Importance of the Goatmen of South Armagh’; and Seamus Murphy: ‘The Pavhees of South Armagh’.

8pm: Forum -THE BIG BREXIT DEBATE- ‘Will Brexit Move The Border?’
Chair: Eamonn Mallie; and panel :Matt Carty MEP, Eoin O Murchu, Damian McGinnity, Lucy Anderson MEP, Anthony Soares.


12pm – 1pm: A Reading of Michael J. Murphy’s Play ‘Men on the Wall’ by Newpoint Players. Directed by Sean Treanor.

2pm – 4pm : ‘An Afternoon of Traditions’—- an informal session featuring Sebastian Graham on Flax Mills; Eugene McConville instructing his audience on the flax process; Seamus Murphy dramatizing the Pavhee trade; Medbh McAteer on Making Black Pudding; Sean McAteer on Making Craft Beer; Strawcraft; Readings from Michael J.Murphy on Cures and other aspects of traditional life.

8pm: ‘Michael J. Murphy Calls Back the Ceili House’– featuring Traditional Arts Partnership, South Armagh — with spontaneous contributions from the audience of Songs, Stories, Readings, Dances and General Riposte.

A Large Collection of Traditional Artefacts and Memory Boxes will be on Exhibition throughout the Winter School and the public is invited to view and debate how these were important to our ancestors.

Further details will appear in the press and on the ‘Cuimhneamh’ facebook page.

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