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Heading for west London, to The Rose and Crown in Ealing, to celebrate National Poetry Day.  One of the many and varied events taking place across the UK in celebration of the richness, power and diversity of poetry, old and new.  To the best of our knowledge 'Journey to the Fifth Province' constitutes London's only event to focus on the wealth of poetry from Ireland - though someone may yet tell us otherwise!

One thing we know for certain is that Steph played on her first 'Journey to the Fifth Province' and did a fantastic job.  She has a particular love for playing alongside the spoken word, and members of the audience (a full house, in the pub's inviting 'library' area) were astonished to learn afterwards that it had been her debut with us. 


The Rose and Crown is known for being friendly, accommodating and well-appointed; for its great menu and for Manager Tom Tucker's vision to establish a programme of interesting events in the pub, including small scale theatre.  The pub sits close to Ealing Studios and first steps towards our performance there were made a good many months ago when Donal took refuge in the pub following a film casting.  He sat next to the open fire with a drink making amendments to the script that was steadily becoming 'Journey to the Fifth Province'.  Having established that it was indeed a script, Tom asked 'Why don't you perform it here?'  And that was that.  

Delighted that over the weekend in Manchester we were able to spend time with Ethna Kennedy, founder and Artistic Director of Irish Heritage, an organisation which for more than 35 years has been promoting in the UK the best of Irish and Anglo-Irish literature, music, drama, visual and other performing arts; Our warm thanks to Ethna for her hospitality and for her perceptive feedback on 'Journey to the Fifth Province'.; An opportunity to learn from her long experience of developing the arts as well as to share our own work at this point in its evolution.

First stop the Irish World Heritage Centre to be precise.  For those who don't know Manchester this is located in the Cheetham Hill area, a part of the city that suffered during August's disturbances.

Cheetham Hill comes with the reputation for being a locality with plenty of economic and social difficulties and, whatever the reality before August, the recent history of local violence has made some people from further afield wary of visiting.  Prior to this weekend we received well-intentioned warnings about this from three separate sources - all of whom were themselves put off coming into the area and so missed out on experiencing the wonderful performances Donal and Harriet produced on this first night of the tour.

We'll never know whether other people were deterred too but we can say that those who joined us on the 'Journey' gave us the warmest of responses and the most enthusiastic feedback.  Someone who had travelled from Blackpool for the evening said:

'It was absolutely gorgeous - I'm so glad we came!  It makes me want to rush off and write poetry.'

So rewarding to hear our that work can make an impact of that kind.

Speaking to you from a home office somewhere in London...Donal recorded a phone interview with Marie Meighan from BBC Radio Manchester's Monday evening programme 'Irish Citizen' (8-9pm). Broadcast that evening, it gave a glimpse into what audiences can expect from our 'Journey to the Fifth Province'.

Delighted to have a large feature in The Irish World newspaper today, covering 'Journey to the Fifth Province', as we approach the launch of the UK tour.  Great publicity in a popular and widely read paper!

Had a great welcome and some wonderful feedback from members of the audience at Milton Keynes Irish Centre.

"Thoroughly enjoyed a memorable performance... Donal Cox's delivery of the poetry and Harriet Earis's playing of the harp complimented each other beautifully.  Not to be missed!"

This being the first performance since the Irish Writers Festival in the spring we were reminded, in a startling way, just how great an impact the production has in reconnecting people with 'the deep heart's core'.

"This guy's brilliant - he took me right back to Belfast where I grew up"

Delighted to announce we've just had confirmation that Arts Council England has awarded us funding under their Grants for the Arts programme!  Accordingly we've added the funder's logo to this site straight away and we're pleased to tell you that our forthcoming UK tour of 'Journey to the Fifth Province' is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

The holiday season may be under way but here work continues with preparations for the 2011/2012 UK tour of Journey to the Fifth Province.  Pleased to announce that the latest date to be confirmed is Saturday 10 March, at Seven Arts Centre, Leeds.