Schools Get Set for SOMA with Phoenix Arts Programme

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Schools Get Set for SOMA with Phoenix Arts Programme

Phoenix Natural Gas helped local school pupils get in to the festival spirit ahead of this year’s SOMA Festival with a bespoke arts programme which was delivered to schools in County Down.

Now in its sixth year, the SOMA Festival is a volunteer-led festival of folk music, performances, food and drink and more and attracts over 10,000 people over the festival weekend, which this year runs from 18-22 July. 

In the lead up to the event, Phoenix Natural Gas has embarked on an arts engagement programme to involve local schools with the festival. 

Working with five primary schools; Annsborough Primary, Castlewellan Primary, Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche, St Malachy’s Primary and St Mary’s Primary, Alison McGrenaghan from Magnus Vikings delivered an engaging storytelling session based on the legend of Mananann MacLir.

Pupils participated in a story writing session inspired by this Irish legend with all entries going on display at a special Phoenix Art Gallery in Castlewellan over the festival period. Entries will be judged by BBC’s Noel Thompson and a special prize will be awarded to the winner, courtesy of Phoenix Natural Gas.

Year 11 pupils at St Malachy’s Secondary School in Castlewellan were also invited to take part in a bespoke printmaking class, led by Tracy McCoey. Pupils unleashed their creativity to produce special prints which also will be displayed within the Phoenix Art Gallery over the festival and are available to purchase. 

SOMA Festival Committee Chairperson, Dermot McAteer, said, “Each year the SOMA Festival gets bigger and better and, as a festival dependent solely on the hard work and dedication of its volunteers, it’s great to welcome Phoenix Natural Gas on board as our corporate partner. 

“Through their support, this year we have been able to bring SOMA into the heart of communities across County Down with an engaging schools programme that brings to life Irish folklore and inspires young people to get more involved with the arts. 

“This year we have a stellar festival line up, including Paul Brady, Sharon Shannon, Damian Dempsey, the Olllam and Grainne Holland. As part of the festival’s ethos, we will also be encouraging new, young talent with our Phoenix Natural Young Performer’s Stage. Aspiring musicians can register to play on this stage on Saturday 21st July by contacting the festival directly.” 

Geri Wright, Communications Manager at Phoenix Natural Gas, said, “As a company actively engaged in supporting the communities that it serves, we are delighted to lend our support for a second year to this prolific festival. Our school engagement programme has allowed us to bring the spirit of the festival out into the community and excitement is already building for the five-day event. Festival-goers will have the chance to view the pupil’s work at a specially created Phoenix Art Gallery and listen to upcoming new talent from the Phoenix Young Performer’s Stage. The Phoenix team will also be on hand to provide goodie bags to visitors and we would encourage everyone to come along and support what is set to be a fantastic festival.” 

For more information on the SOMA Festival 2018, visit or follow @thesomafestival on Twitter or Facebook.