The Boside Artists Newsletter

By: The Bogside Artists


Date 26/2/03

Published by "The Bogside Artists"

No. We are not going to tell you how to
make a million by farming bagpipes in Donegal. Nor do we
wish to add to the deluge of unwanted horseshit already
in your email box. Instead, we will amuse, inform, edify
and even hang around later for your questions. If you got
something that is useful, true or funny, drop us a line.






Derry or "Londonderry", to give it its formal title,
boasts some of the most beautiful women to be found
anywhere on the planet, with Belfast running a close
second. That probably explains why Derry men are crazier
than most and Belfast men crazier than anybody. Derry
however, has a colorful history every bit as interesting
as its indigenous beauties. Each issue of our Newsletter
will offer a little snippet or two of information on the
subject (history, that is) about which, especially since
the onset of the "troubles", numerous learned tomes have
been written.
_ Derry gets its name from the ancient Irish word "daire"
meaning an oak grove. The oak tree was venerated by the
Celts and is likely that Druids used the grove for their
rituals. The "daire" was situated on a crannog or small
island in the river Foyle. As the waters receded, the
surrounding area turned into bogland, whence derives the
name Bogside. The hill itself once boasted a fortress not
unlike that overlooking Lough Swilly called the Grianan
of Aileach.

In the sixth century Saint Colmcille (Columba 521-597)
established a monastery on the hill. There is no proof of
this, but it is more than likely, as founding monasteries
was what Columba liked to do best. This, of course,
attracted people to live nearby and so the settlement

The monastery indeed was intact well into the 17th
century when the colonists arrived from Scotland and
England. Derrys boomtime however, was in the 12th and
13th centuries when the MacLochlainn dynasty moved in.
They used their wealth to build the settlement up and
when they died out, Derry fell into decline. It was not
until the arrival of the De Burgos that relative
prosperity returned to the growing town. The skeleton on
Derry's coat of arms derives from the De Burgos.


The Bogside Artists are a mysterious trio to many. Ergo,
let me introduce us. As this will take up more space than
I feel entitled to use, I'll be brief. In our NEXT
Newsletter, you will find a fuller and more comprehensive
edition at our website. We will even have our own photos!
Consider this a mere introduction.

Kevin Hasson's formal education began with The Christian
Brothers school in the Brandywell area of the city.

later moved to the Creggan and renamed itself St. Peters.
That was in the early `70's. "Art even then, was the
thing I was most interested in", he says. "My dad was a
very talented man who used his skills and imagination to
entertain us. Creativity therefore, as a bulwark against
poverty, constituted the environment I grew up in."

For his first ever trip abroad Kevin found himself on a
relief mission to the starving of Calcutta. It was an
experience that transformed him. In Frankfurt, he met
his American wife to be. Once married, he settled down
in America. Finally, he returned home with his family.

He wasn't home a fortnight when he linked up once more
with Tom, whom he had first met at St. Peters. Art was
the thing they had most in common. Kevin and Tom both
play guitar. Kevin likes old movies.

Apart from several brief stays in England, Tom Kelly has
spent all of his life in the Bogside, where he still
lives. He is, in fact, leader of a small non-
denominational Christian church called "Wellspring" in
the heart of The Bogside. Part of Wellspring's agenda is
to explore all aspects of Irish culture, particularly
where it addresses the pure Christian message. Wellspring is
self-sufficient and uses The Bogside Artists' studio for
its meetings.

Prior to joining forces with his brother William, and his
pal Kevin, Tom worked for ten years in cross-community art
projects in the city as a means for getting the two
communities to understand one another. He was a pioneer
in the field. Tom says: "Our society has done incalculable
harm to our natural pride and sense of self-worth.
Christianity addresses this." Tom has completed many murals
in the city that depicted life, as it existed a long time ago.
He called these `heritage murals'. They were made for schools,
hospitals and community centers.

Tom is a fine singer and musician and has produced
Wellspring's one and only CD, a compilation of well-known
Irish gigs and a few original numbers from Wellspring's

Tom's older brother William Kelly also worked in England.
First he went to Queens University after a formal
education at St.Columbs College. St.Columbs incidentally
boasts no less than TWO Nobel Prize winners - Seamus Heaney
and John Hume. Renowned playwright Brian Friel was also educated there.

William decided to leave uni and went to Carlisle,
England, to work as a Post Office counter clerk, which
lasted a year. His intention was to `grow up'. "Happily,
I failed," he says.

Teaming up with his brother Tom and Kevin to form The
Bogside Artists was a natural progression.
William likes to read and paint and has little time left
for anything else. He is married and spends his time
between Australia and Ireland.


Sad days for some in Derry. The old stalwarts who were in
regular receipt of funding from the Derry City council
have been axed this year. The purse strings are
tightening. We, of course, have never received a penny
and it seems that this time around, our "chances are very
slim" according to one official. We are shocked, of


Recently we have organized our group along more
professional lines with a management committee and
everything. That means, when we apply for funding, we
might conceivably be taken seriously. In the meantime, we
concern ourselves with our next murals. The first of
these will begin at the end of May. There will be three
more in toto, and you can follow our progress with all
three. You can be sure that this section of our
newsletter will gradually take pre-eminence over all

So now you know all about us! Our intention is to
complete the remaining three murals for the Bogside. It
will be an open-air gallery, unique of its kind. Our
Newsletters, of which this is the first, will keep you
informed of our progress; and in the "Diary" section
especially, you will read about the bizarre and wonderful
events that unfold, as we go about making our
murals......because what actually happens to The Bogside
Artists, on a day to day basis, is a helluva lot funnier
than anything we could make up. Also, we will be able to
post photos taken in situ on our Newsletter so that you
can get a real intimation of what it is like to work as a
muralist in Derry! On that promising note, I bid you
adieu and wish you, on behalf of Tom, Kevin and myself, a
very happy day.

5. USEFUL WEBSITES, Spartan in contact info., Derry's soccer site, all you ever

wanted to know about Derry's football squad but were
afraid to ask. Up to the minute., useful
links to all things Northern Irish., has that little village life
content. BIG things happen in Donegal, mostly to fish., for those seeking their
biological origins all over Ireland. Derry's genealogy
center is based in the Heritage Building where The
Bogside Artists have exhibited., simple and to the point
giving the visitor what he needs to know and well
presented with good flicks. Flights to Dublin, London,
Glasgow, Manchester, Majorca etc., good plug for the
town. I should say "city"; but Derry will never be a
"city" as such, we hope! To Derry "wans", it'll always
be a town.

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