The sword of Sir William Wallace, the Scottish knight and national hero who led his country in the Wars of Scottish Independence, will be displayed in Galway next week and carried in the city’s St Patrick’s Day Parade.
Wallace is most famous for his military leadership and defeat of the English army at Stirling Bridge in 1297, and the presence of the replica sword carried by him in Galway represents a new link and association that is being forged between Galway and Stirling, a city in the Scottish midlands, bordering the Highlands and Lowlands.
The sword will be on display in the Galway City Museum on Tuesday March 16 at 6pm when a new festival, celebrating the music, culture, and traditions of the two cities - The Stirling-Galway Sessions 2010 - is launched. The festival will be launched in Stirling on St Patrick’s Day.
The festival is the creation of Mick Crehan, who runs The Crane Bar, Sea Road, and Fergus Wood, the Scottish National Party Provost of Stirling and a traditional musician. Mr Wood will be the guest of honour at the launch which will also include a performance by the Stirling and Districts Schools Pipe Band as well as performances by Galway musicians.
On St Patrick’s Day Stirling’s Adam Moore will carry Wallace’s sword in the Parade alongside the traditional display of the Galway city sword and mace.
The Stirling-Galway Sessions 2010 takes place from June 6 to 21 with the Stirling leg taking place from June 6 to 12 and Galway leg from June 13 to 21. The Galway leg will include shows by Grada, Shaskeen, The Cunningham Sound, the Maimín Cajun Band, Philip Donnelley, the Kinlochard Ceilidh Band, and the Stirling and Districts Schools Pipe Band in The Crane, Róisín Dubh, Monroe’s, Town Hall Theatre, The Quays, Tigh Chóilí, Taaffe’s, The Western Hotel, Murty Rabbitt’s, and on the streets of the city.
Fergus Wood is a member of the Kinlochard Ceilidh Band. The band has played a number of gigs at The Crane and thus the friendship between Mr Wood and Mr Crehan grew. Both men share a passion for traditional music, community activism, and the deep ethnic and cultural links between Ireland and Scotland, and felt a joint festival would be a good idea.
“Galway and Stirling have a lot in common,” explains Mr Crehan. “Both are university towns, both rely heavily on tourism, and both are of historic interest. People in Stirling are interested in learning from Galway about how to increase their tourist numbers and the way we use festivals to encourage people to stay in the city. Scotland has a great audience for traditional music and we are hoping that festivals in Stirling can be an opening for Galway musicians.”
The work of Messrs Crehan and Wood has led to delegations from the Galway City Council, the Gardaí, Teagasc, the Chamber of Commerce, and NUI, Galway going to Stirling to meet with counterparts and colleagues there.
Links are being created to foster opportunities for tourism, business, and education between the two cities and already NUIG and Stirling University are looking at joint research projects.
“The best way to develop the relationship between the two cities is through culture,” says Mr Crehan, “and we hope this festival will stimulate tourism for people in Galway and Stirling and also for those with both Scottish and Irish heritage.”