Over recent months, I have returned to Omagh to facilitate further art-making workshops in the local community. These sessions have already started and are taking place in the lead up to the 20th anniversary of the atrocity which lead to the initial phase of Petals of Hope (described in the facilitation section of this website).
During the following weeks, I hope to add information to this news session of my website to show a little of the wider art-making process, together with a snippet of my personal experience of working as an Expressive Arts Facilitator at this significant time. For now, here is an initial press release which was kindly written by journalist and writer, Malachi O'Doherty (who came back to Omagh with me just after the fifteenth anniversary).
20th Anniversary of the bomb in Omagh
Plans have been announced to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Omagh bomb.
Public events will begin with the annual service held in the Memorial Garden at 3pm on Sunday 12th August 2018.
This inter-denominational service will be accompanied by the Omagh Community Youth Choir and will include a song especially composed for this service by Choir Musical Director, Daryl Simpson. Local singer Leslie Matthews and St. Eugene’s Band will also provide musical interludes.
Michael Gallagher whose son Aiden (21) was killed in the bomb felt ‘it is a significant milestone for the community and those deeply affected. Communal prayer and solidarity is impotant not just for the victims and survivors of Omagh, but as an expression of cohesion in a world that unfortunately is infused with violent extremism’.
A reflective event will then take place on Wednesday, 15th August, at 2.55pm, at the bottom of Market Street. This occasion will mark the significant moments of the atrocity through creative approaches, quietness and a bell toll.
These events are being organised by a group of organisations, including Omagh Support & Self Help Group, Families Moving On and the Omagh Churches' Forum. They have been brought together in conjunction with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.
This working group has also been provided with joint Artistic Direction by Carole Kane (Expressive Arts) and Daryl Simpson (Music).
Ms Kane said, “While it is important to not forget the horrific events of the 15th August 1998, the 20th anniversary marks opportunities for the community, so that they might remember differently, remember forward and more privately in the future.”
She says that on the week of this anniversary, the communities of Omagh and the surrounding villages are invited to gather together to remember those affected by this terrible atrocity. This invitation also extends to the wider public, especially people prompted by compassion, who sent flowers, wrote letters, and attended funerals 20 years ago.
In the run up to this event Carole Kane will facilitate public art workshops, culminating in Visual art tokens made by the local community, which will then be distributed on the day.
Throughout the anniversary week in August, quiet spaces for reflection will be open in a range of locations across the town. These will include several of the churches represented in the Omagh Churches Forum, the WAVE Trauma Centre and the Bomb Archive in the Library Headquarters which are all open to the public. People are welcome to visit these venues, if they chose to.
It is also recognised that this year will mark an end of an annual public commemoration.
Further information on events will be made available on a FaceBook events page, called ‘Omagh, 20 anniversary’.
Acknowledgements and special public thanks are made to the Victims and Survivors Service, Dept of Foreign affairs, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and the generous public for their contributions towards these events.