As part of the Mayo North Gathering festival, which takes place from August 1 to 9, the recently opened Jackie Clarke Collection in Ballina will mount a specially themed exhibition which will be of particular interest to emigrants and others coming to Mayo for the festival.
Crossing, an exhibition on the Irish Diaspora, first shown in New York in 2011, as part of Imagine Ireland, will come home to Ballina. Items from the American Irish Historical Society and items from the Jackie Clarke Collection come together again to tell the story of emigration and travel.
It was, of course, Ballina’s own Mary Robinson who, as president, first spoke of the Irish Diaspora and the scattering of the Irish across the globe in her now famous speech to the Oireachtas in 1997. The Jackie Clarke Collection will show a film on Mrs Robinson’s speech overlaid with the majestic scenery of north Mayo. There will also be a film made on the Slack family’s cottage from Attymass which now forms the centre piece in the Famine Memorial in Battery Park, New York.
Artefacts relating to the emigrants’ experience will also be on show. These will include a Cunard advertisement as it appeared in the 19th century in William Barrett’s shop in Ballycastle, detailing sailing times to New York and Boston, and a newspaper cutting regarding opportunities for Irish servants in America to replace American servants who were becoming more demanding – they wanted parking for their cars and en-suite facilities in their accommodation. Other items on display will include prints, posters, manuscripts and books.
Mary Robinson will be guest of honour and keynote speaker at a gala Gathering dinner in Downhill House Hotel, Ballina, on August 9. The 10-day Mayo North Gathering festival takes place in Ballina and several other locations in north Mayo including Attymass, Foxford, Lahardaun, Enniscoe (Crossmolina ), Killala, Belderg and Moygownagh, as well as Bonniconlon where the annual show will be a major featured event. The festival will include a wide range of day and night entertainment aimed especially at visitors to the area.