Words: Kate Brayden
Ahead of a run of unprecedented shows featuring Ireland’s biggest acts in support of Palestine, Kate Brayden speaks to a host of artists about Ireland’s deep rooted affinity with the Palestinian cause.
As the world watches the death toll continue to rise in Gaza and the once beautiful, now besieged area turned to rubble; many of Ireland’s best known musicians across the country are speaking out against the horrific humanitarian crisis. On October 28, Hozier made a moving speech in San Diego during a show, with the clip instantly going viral in a country which is pivotal in the negotiation of a ceasefire.
“I come from a country whose peace that we enjoy now was as a direct cause of the direct involvement of the United States,” he told the hushed crowd. “That’s why I believe that international investment in an issue like this can really help.”
Back at home, Irish Artists for Palestine, a coalition of creatives, have come together to curate an all-island programme of solidarity events in light of the attacks on Gaza and the ongoing occupation of Palestine. Two mammoth Dublin gigs are scheduled for November 28. Gig for Gaza – which lists some of Ireland’s best known folk and trad artists: Lankum, The Mary Wallopers, Lisa O’Neill, Damien Dempsey, Síle Denvir, Pauline Scanlon, Niamh Dunne & friends – sold out in minutes when originally scheduled for Vicar Street, leading to calls for a bigger venue. The 3Arena was quickly booked, with 13,000 capacity. More than 75% of tickets have already sold out, and all proceeds will be donated to Medical Aid for Palestine. The response in Dublin alone has been overwhelmingly positive, but the gigs will reach all corners of the country.
When Mary Coughlan was organising the 3Olympia Theatre show with Kíla’s Dee Armstrong, The Stunning’s Steve Wall was an obvious choice of performer. “Mary was aware of my activism over the last few years for Palestinian rights,” Wall recalls. “Some people say artists should stick to what they know, but as a compassionate human being, if you feel something is wrong then you’re entitled to voice your opinion. Ireland’s history of colonial rule has left us with a deep sense of anti-imperialism and a sympathy for the oppressed. I’m sickened by Joe Biden’s response and America’s funding of the atrocities. Israel must be held to account for apartheid, ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses in Palestine. All countries need to recognise the State of Palestine and refuse to trade with Occupied Territories.”
Mary Black and Senator Frances Black quickly joined the 3Olympia Theatre show’s ranks, with Senator Black proving a vocal activist in Seanad Éirann for Palestine. “To think there will be shows filling the 3Arena and Olympia Theatre is a sign of how much love and support there is for Palestine,” Senator Frances Black offers. “Writers for Palestine are doing the same. It’s a phenomenal effort from the creative community and the funds raised will be going to a just and urgent cause. These events are an important way of expressing the strength of public feeling. They called for a ceasefire, but the government needs to be a much stronger advocate for Palestine on the world stage if they want to represent the will of the Irish people.”
Ireland’s history of colonial rule has left us with a deep sense of anti-imperialism and a sympathy for the oppressed.Steve Wall
Proceeds from the various performances organised by Irish Artists for Palestine will go towards the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, The Red Cross and Medical Aid for Palestine, amongst other grassroots charities on the ground in Gaza. “Artistic expression creates spaces through which we can connect and deepen our resolve and resilience in the face of systemic violence, oppression, and injustice,” Irish Artists for Palestine organisers state. “We invite participation and engagement from across the arts community to do what we do best: reflect the sentiment of our communities and extend a powerful message of solidarity to Palestine.” 100 years after Senator George Maurice Moore became the first politician to mention the Palestinian cause in a House of the Oireachtas, Irish representatives are facing pressure to act from the public, following over 15,000 civilian deaths in Gaza in the last month. Musicians have long played a key role in influencing public movements and sentiments; Ireland’s gigs for Gaza will cement that truth in front of the world.
Sunday 26 November
Derry – ‘Sunday Grooves Supports Palestine’ at Sandino’s Bar with Riot Code, Ryan
Monaghan, sets, Flounder and more.
Dublin – Stand up for Gaza at Whelan’s with David O’Doherty, Emma Doran, Shane
Daniel Byrne, Tony Cantwell, Killian Sunderman and more. SOLD OUT.
Monday 27 November
Belfast – The Black Box: Pillow Queens, Saint Sister, Joshua Burnside, SOAK, Rachael
Lavelle, Lisa Canny, Ciarán Lavery with speaker Farrah Koutteineh.
Tuesday 28 November
Dublin – Gig for Gaza: 3Arena, featuring Lankum, Damien Dempsey, The Mary
Wallopers, Lisa O’Neill, Pauline Scanlon, Síle Denvir, Niamh Dunne & Friends. Over
75% tickets sold.
Dublin – 3Olympia Theatre featuring an acoustic set from The Saw Doctors, The
Stunning, Mundy, Róisín El Cherif, Mary Black, Frances Black, Mary Coughlan and
more. SOLD OUT.
Tipperary – Jim O’ The Mills Pub: Fergal Scahill, Matthew Noone, Cáit Ní Riain, Eoin
Ryan Anthony and more.
Wednesday 29 November:
Dublin – ’Music for Gaza’ with Tolu Makay, Aaron Garrett, Vatican Jail, Cable Boy at
Dublin – The Workman’s Club with Tebi Rex, Kendino, Trinkets, Wizard Fruit,
Martina and the Moons for One Nation (Gaza Emergency Appeal).
Thursday 30 November:
Sligo for Gaza: Moxie, Steve Cooney & Dermot Byrne, Sky Atlas, Dee Armstrong
(Kíla), Freespeakingmonkey, and more. Coolera House, 7:30pm.
Galway – Headford: Campbell’s Tavern with Rónán Ó Snódaigh, Katie O’Connor, Iona
Zajac, Jinx Lennon, Niall McCabe, Róisín El Cherif and more. SOLD OUT.
Dublin – Grooves for Gaza at Hen’s Teeth, with Danny Groenland, Melina Malone,
Chris Wong, Toshín, Santa Rosa and more.
Friday 1 December
Belfast: -Gráinne Holland, Beoga, John Spillane, Pauline Scanlon, Róisín El Cherif,
Barry Kerr, Krea and more at St Comgalls, Divis Street from 7pm.
Donegal – Inishowen for Gaza at The Wee Hall, Shore Rd, Culdaff with The Henry
Girls, Ríoghnach Connolly, Gazelleband and more.
Cork – Concert for Gaza: Live at St. Lukes: Declan O’Rourke, Niall McCabe, Karan
Casey and more. SOLD OUT.
Belfast – Kneecap, The Rapparees, Huartan, Róisín Chambers, Dr Hani Mahdi,
Sinéad McKenna Band at The Devenish Complex with Féile an Phobail.
Monday 11 December
South Kerry gig for Gaza – The Oratory, Cahersiveen with Siomhá, David Kitt, Súil
Amháin, Paddy Bushe, Pauline Scanlon and more.
Wednesday 13 December
Clare – Culturlann Sweeney, Kilkee with Dónal Lunny, Kevin Burke, Declan
O’Rourke, Karan Casey, Cathy Jordan and more from 8pm.