A visit by the Dalai Lama has been one of the highlights of Derry’s City of Culture calendar so far this spring. The Tibetan leader was invited to the city by Richard Moore, founder of the Children in Crossfire charity, who was blinded by a plastic bullet in 1972 and forgave the soldier responsible for his injury.
“When tragedy befell him, he didn’t allow himself to become filled with feelings of anger, hatred and resentment,” the Dalai Lama said of Moore. “The result is clear. He’s now a happy, peaceful human being.”
The two men were joined by 300 children in a walk across the Peace Bridge with Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe Ken Good and Monsignor Eamon Martin, who has since been installed as Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh.
Derry had already attracted attention for breaking the world record for the largest choreographed song and dance routine, from the musical ‘Annie’. 5,480 people turned up for the event to mark the 50th anniversary of the Londonderry Musical Society with all the money raised going directly to the Foyle Hospice.
“We were all putting out a positive story, a positive message about our community and the talents and ambitions that we want to celebrate in this city,” Foyle MP Mark Durkan said afterwards.
Entrepreneur Karren Brady was the special guest at the launch of Derry’s Enterprise Week. She told an audience at the City Hotel that motivation and leading by example were key to success: “I have two personalities. One for home and one for the office, and I make sure that one doesn’t drain the life out of the other one.”
An 11-foot sculpture of St Columba, by Niall Bruton, was also unveiled in St Columb’s Park. The return of Colmcille from Scotland will be symbolically marked in a major outdoor event on 7-8 June.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, meanwhile, welcomed 700 delegates to the GAA annual congress, held for the first time in Derry. The conference marked the 125th anniversary of Derry GAA.
“The GAA generates and fosters pride in the community it both serves and enriches,” McGuinness said. “It is for the unique and invaluable contribution that you make to our community that we as an Executive consider it right to support GAA activities, and the development of Casement Park is an example of our support.”
The Undertones also released their first new single in over a decade. ‘Much Too Late’ came out in time to support Record Store Day on 20 April as part of the City of Culture celebrations. Derry was once again a focal point for the GAA when the all-Ireland finals of Scór Sinsir took place on 27 April. Speaking in advance, Derry GAA County Chair John Keenan commented: “The volunteer effort involved on the organisation side has been inspirational, and a real tribute to the ethos of the GAA and our clubs. We will have some of the finest musical, theatrical and dance talent on show.”
Two Door Cinema Club and Olly Murs will headline Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Ebrington Square (24-26 May). Singing the Bridge, a more traditional music festival, will take place on 16-19 May. To round off the month, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is due to address the European Business Network at the Millennium Forum on 29-31 May, in a reminder of the potential economic benefits of the City of Culture.