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Georgian Festival: ‘BIND’ celebrates the Armagh Robinson Library in poetry, dance and film

‘BIND’, an innovative contemporary dance and poetry film celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Armagh Robinson Library, will receive its premiere screening at the Market Place Theatre Studio on Thursday, November 25 at 8.30pm.

Taking place as part of the Armagh Georgian Weekend, ‘BIND’ reunites poet Maria McManus, choreographer Eileen McClory and filmmaker Conan McIvor, who were part of the successful team behind the recent sell-out screenings of ‘Epilogue’ at Belfast International Arts Festival.

When he died, Archbishop Robinson, the founder of the Armagh Robinson Library, requested that all his personal correspondence be burned and destroyed. In 2019, Maria McManus ran an international letter-writing campaign to ‘fill the void’ left behind, with new letters.

Hundreds of letters were received from people of all ages, and from across the globe. The subjects written about included contemporary issues, as well as letters to the dead, the lost, the imagined, to the future, to the past, to the inner self, and to public figures.

Maria McManus from Quotidian – Word on the Street, the creative arts production company behind the film, takes up the story:

“The Armagh Robinson Library has become a home for these new letters in the present, binding the past, the future and the sense of place. This year the creative team revisited the correspondence received and selected a handful of poignant lines to devise this beautiful homage to the legacy of the ‘healing place of the soul’, celebrating it in poetry, and movement.

The film explores the theme of ‘binding’ in several ways – the binding of books, as bonds across time and generations, in the costumes and metaphorically linking corsetry to constraints on women and access to education and expression of the body, written and spoken words. The Robinson Library is also a character in the film, which was recorded there earlier this year.”

‘BIND’ also features the talents of composer Katie Richardson, costume-maker Una Hickey and dancers Ryan O’Neill, Clara Kerr and Rosie Mullin. The poet Bebe Ashley translated the chosen lines from the correspondence into sign language which formed the basis for development of the movement sequences and voiceover is by the actress Roisín Gallagher.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support this terrific initiative, led by Quotidian, thanks to The National Lottery players.  BIND demonstrates the true power of the arts in bringing people and communities closer together.  It also highlights the value of using the arts as a tool to create a sense of place through imaginative storytelling, which in this instance, combines poetry, music and dance.  Congratulations to all involved!”

Andrew Hetherington from Business to Arts said: “We are proud to support BIND, a project that was funded as part of round one of the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund in partnership with Business to Arts. The Begin Together Arts Fund is a vital source of private sector funding for the arts. Business to Arts is proud to work in partnership with Bank of Ireland as we progress the fund, reach more communities, and help realise quality arts experiences for people across the island of Ireland.”

Tickets for the film premiere of ‘BIND’  at the Market Place Theatre Studio on Thursday 25 November at 8.30pm are *free* and can be booked online now at

The screening of ‘BIND’ lasts approximately 25 minutes.

The project is supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland through Exchequer and National Lottery Funds and by Bank of Ireland, Begin Together Arts Funds in partnership with Business to Arts. Bebe Ashley’s contribution was supported by her receipt of a grant from the Santander Freelancer’s Scheme.

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