I didn't want to let this week pass without mentioning two people who gave so much to the culture of Northern Ireland and have sadly passed away.
The first is historian Jonathan Bardon who wrote many wonderful books on the history of this place and gave of his time to Charabanc Theatre Company (I am one of the founders) when we were researching the mill girl's strike of 1911 for "Lay Up Your Ends".
The second is Roma Tomelty, daughter of playwright/actor Joseph Tomelty and sister to Frances Tomelty. Roma was a wonderful actor, hugely talented and with her husband Colin founded Centre Stage where they taught many young people in Belfast to act. I had the pleasure to interview Roma several years ago for a book I am trying to write on Charabanc and although Roma never worked with the company, we are all part of a continuum of the history of Ulster theatre and I am hugely grateful for the fantastic account of the family's theatrical history that we can now archive.
They both will be sorely missed.
Sorry I ducked out of this mornings session early - had just got the news that my father-in-law had died overnight from cancer - he was 93yrs old and his death had been expected but it’s still a difficult time for the family - now to organise a funeral in the middle of the pandemic with all the restrictions - already its ‘different’... the strangest thing is no callers to the house - no wake - no making sandwich and tea in the kitchen and no greeting locals as they call to the ‘home house’ - I never realised how important Irish wake was ... so it will be a nice distraction to look for some treasures tomorrow.
My step sister died 2 weeks ago in Jamaica. No one was able to go and my step mum was already supposed to be in Jamaica months earlIer for a year but flight's cancelled due to the virus ... it’s been hard but the small funeral was held by Zoom and WhatsApp and there will be a memorial later on when everyone can go and be together.. wakes are especially important to us too. I think talking about the person, the memories having fun and eating is a big part of the grieving process in many cultures. We have been connecting more, writing actual letters, sending gifts like flowers and food, sharing a cuppa virtually for a chat or just to sit and see each others faces this helps.