The Waking Walls

a caoineadh of ecological and climate grief

The Waking Walls; a caoineadh of ecological and climate grief.
The iconic national monument of Cloughoughter Castle, sitting on its tiny island in the heart of Cavan’s lake lands premieres a collaborative event-based artwork The Waking Walls by AlanJames Burns.

Echoing from the walls of Cavan’s Cloughoughter Castle the stirring cries of an Irish caoineadh reverberate over the rippling lake water. Together, gathered on boats and at the lakeside, we absorb this iconic monument’s lament for the environmental and biodiversity losses the castle has witnessed over its lifetime.

The Waking Walls is a collaborative, theatrical artwork that reawakens and equips us with age-old methods of coping with loss. The Waking Walls is an invitation to reframe environmental grief – not as a state of disconnection and isolation, but as a unifying experience to collectively process climate disruption.

 

The Waking Walls has been developed by Cavan-born environmental artist AlanJames Burns in collaboration with writer Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, NYAH (Cross Border Collective of Traditional Arts Musicians), Cavan Arts Office, Irish Hospice Foundation and Cavan Adventure Centre.

Feedback from Participants:

“It was very calming and thought provoking, it was a spectacular exhibition/ performance.”

“I have never experienced an art work like this, Irish culture (the caoineadh) was mixed with a light installation in a historic setting to explore the planet and our human connection to it.”

“Felt like the castle had a voice of its own and it drew you into the emotions but also feelings of my own related to it.”

“Contemplative, felt as if time were suspended.”

“Unsettling emotions.”

“The start of the piece was very challenging, almost overwhelming, it was so intense. It got across the gravity of the situation very well. As the night fell and the lights came on, the call to action piece gave me hope and motivation.”

“Awe at nature and the many wonders and beauty around us, sadness for the damage we have caused and hope that we can salvage things.”

In The Waking Walls, the central historical 13th century building of Cloughoughter Castle now stands in disrepair as physical evidence of the effects of entropy, decay, human destruction and environmental degradation.

Both evening at dusk – from Friday 8th September to Saturday 9th September – audiences embarked upon a once-in-a-lifetime boat trip. Immersed within this breathtaking location, they witnessed the castle personifying collective trauma connected to the climate catastrophe and ecological degradation. Cloughoughter Castle channels this grief and cries out in a call to arms for us to fight to protect ourselves against our inaction, embrace necessary change and live in harmony with the land once again. 

 

The audio installation was developed in collaboration with musicians; Martin Donohoe, Rafal Szydlowski, Dwanye Kiernan, and vocalist and composer Karina Lynch Charles, arranged by musician and composer Andrew Stephen Lynch.

 

Press release available here.

Public programme: Caoineadh Dúlra

In addition to The Waking Walls events in September, a public engagment programme, Caoineadh Dúlra, took place on 14 and 15 Oct, 2023. These workshops explored biodiversity loss, climate grief and how traditional Irish mourning customs could help us process this loss.

Kerry McCabe, traditional musician from Co. Fermanagh is playing the fiddle. She is wearing glasses and has long sandy coloured hair which is pulled back. There is a look of calm concentration on her face. Light hits off a blue fabric background casting an indigo light over Kerry’s face and reflecting on the surface of the fiddle.
ACCESSIBILITY:

The Waking Walls built accessibility into its experiential design including accessible
transport for each performance and ISL interpretation for performances on Saturday 9th.
Free and reduced tickets were available, including for those living with a disability, low income,
unemployed, OAP. 

Easy Read and Story | Accessibility Statement

The Waking Walls is funded and supported by The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon, Traditional Arts Project Award, Creative Ireland, Cavan Arts Office, Co-operation with Northern Ireland Scheme, Irish Hospice Foundation, Cavan Townhall, Cavan Adventure Centre, Office of Public Works, Dept. of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Project Credits 

The Waking Walls has been developed by Cavan-born environmental artist
AlanJames Burns in collaboration with writer Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, NYAH (Cross Border Collective of Traditional Arts Musicians), Cavan Arts Office, Irish Hospice Foundation and Cavan Adventure Centre.

The audio installation was developed in collaboration with musicians; Martin Donohoe, Rafal Szydlowski, Dwanye Kiernan, and vocalist and composer Karina Lynch Charles, arranged by musician and composer Andrew Stephen Lynch.

Karina Lynch Charles – Producer
Joe Keenan – Production coordinator
Ailbhe O’Connor – Production Assistant
Paul Hughes – Production Assistant
Johnny Binchy – Production Assistant
Shane Carroll, Technical Prep
Michael O’Brien, Sound Prep
Catriona O’Reilly, Cavan Arts Officer
Rhonda Tidy, Cavan Arts Office
Annetta Lovett, Cavan Arts Office
Danielle McDermott,Cavan Arts Office
Civil Defence Cavan
Paul Mulligan – Cavan County Council
Sean Thorton and team – Cavan Adventure Centre
Padraig McIntyre – Cavan Town Hall
Dominic Campbell – Irish HospiceFoundation
Gormfhlaith Ní Shíocháin Ní Bheoláin – Athshamhlú Gaeilge/ artistic translation in Irish/as gaelige
Marian Caulfield – caoineadh expert

Heather Bothwell – environmental expert
Fergal Connolly – local guide
Jessica Lang – architect
Erne Environmental
Birdwatch Ireland
Alan & Jamie Nolan – Nolan Sound & Lights
Andrew Wharton Coach Hire – Transport

Native Events

 

Hugh O’Reilly – Media Images

Photography/Documentation
Trevor Whelan
Sheila Rooney
Anna Kaniuta Art services
Cien O’Brien

Stephanie Dickinson – Public Relations
Fiona Byrne – Marketing and Administration

Aisling Fay – catering
Bridge Interpreting – ISL
Brookside Security

Stewards:
Jennifer Griffith
Paul Murray
Paul King
Paul Galligan
Raquel Montero
Seamus Enright
Leanne Brady

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