Schoolchildren take part in arts programme for Soma Festival

Schoolchildren take part in arts programme for Soma Festival

11 July 2018

PHOENIX Natural Gas helped local school pupils prepare for this year’s Soma Festival in Castlewellan with a bespoke arts programme delivered to local schools.

Now in its sixth year, the five-day festival is a volunteer-led event featuring folk music, performances, food and drink and more, attracting over 10,000 people. It begins next Wednesday, July 10.

In the lead up to the event, Phoenix has embarked upon an arts engagement programme to involve local schools with the festival.

Working with Annsborough, Castlewellan, Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche, St Malachy’s and St Mary’s primary schools, Alison McGrenaghan from Magnus Vikings delivered an engaging storytelling session based on the legend of Mananann MacLir.

Pupils participated in a story writing session inspired by the Irish legend with all entries going on display at a special Phoenix art gallery in Castlewellan over the festival period. Entries will be judged by BBC NI’s Noel Thompson and a special prize will be awarded to the winner, courtesy of Phoenix.

Year 11 pupils at St Malachy’s High School in Castlewellan were also invited to take part in a bespoke printmaking class led by Tracy McCoey, with the students unleashing their creativity to produce special prints which also will be displayed within the Phoenix art gallery over the festival and are available to purchase.

Soma Festival Committee chairman, Dermot McAteer, said the event gets bigger and better each year.

“The festival is dependent solely on the hard work and dedication of its volunteers and it’s great to welcome Phoenix Natural Gas on board as our corporate partner,” he said.

“Through its support this year we have been able to bring Soma into the heart of communities with an engaging schools programme that brings to life Irish folklore and inspires young people to get more involved with the arts.”

Mr McAteer added: “This year we have a stellar festival line up, including Paul Brady, Sharon Shannon, Damian Dempsey, the Olllam and Grainne Holland. 

“As part of the festival’s ethos, we will also be encouraging new, young talent with our Phoenix Natural Young Performer’s Stage where aspiring musicians can register to play on stage on Saturday, July 21 by contacting the festival directly.”

Phoenix communications manager, Geri Wright, said the company is actively engaged in supporting the communities it serves and is delighted to lend its support for a second year to the prolific festival. 

She continued: “Our school engagement programme has allowed us to bring the spirit of the festival out into the community and excitement is already building for the five-day event.

“Festival-goers will have the chance to view the pupil’s work at the specially created Phoenix art gallery and listen to upcoming new talent from the Phoenix young performer’s stage. The Phoenix team will also be on hand to provide goodie bags to visitors and we would encourage everyone to come along and support what is set to be a fantastic festival.”

More information on the festival is available at or follow @thesomafestival on Twitter or Facebook.