Hero of Belfast: The Mary Ann McCracken Walking Tour

Experience Mary Ann McCracken’s Belfast, as you walk in the footsteps of this remarkable abolitionist, philanthropist and social reformer.

Mary Ann McCracken, who was born over 250 years ago, is intrinsically linked to the city of Belfast. She lived her fearless life championing causes, moving from place to place, always on a mission to make life better for those less fortunate than herself.

Hear too about her more radical nature. Her role in the work of the United Irishmen, the 1798 rebellion and beyond. How she was devoted to her older brother Henry Joy – hanged for his leading role in the rebellion.

This walking tour takes in the locations linked to her life, her endeavours and that of her family. You will be led by an experienced guide through the same streets she walked over 200 years before. This new walking tour starts at Clifton House, where Mary Ann’s thirst for philanthropic causes first began, and where her impact can still be seen today, and finishes near Belfast City Hall.

Planning your visit:

Walking tour lasts approx. 2 ½ hours

Cost: £17.50/£16.50 concession

Please arrive 10 minutes in advance of the tour start time

Includes a complimentary tea and coffee

Free parking at Clifton House

Sara Pascoe – Weirdo

The debut novel from the bestselling and award-winning comedian, in conversation with Kathy Clugston.

We are delighted to be welcoming Sara Pascoe to CQAF. Best known as a comedian, Sara has also written for television and is the host of The Great British Sewing Bee. Sara has already written two books – both non-fiction,  her first novel is Weirdo. 

It follows Sophie, who is feverishly anxious and working hard to be happy in her own skin – if only life wouldn’t make that so hard. Deep in Essex and her own thoughts, Sophie had a feeling something was going to happen, and then it did! Sara will be talking about her book and her writing and the interview will be followed by a Q and A.

The event will be followed by a book signing.

‘Funny, sad, engaging, Pascoe nails everything that confronts women today.’ Stylist

The Bonnevilles

The Bonnevilles don’t so much play punk blues as use it as a spring board to create a completely new genre. The Lurgan duo take Mississippi Hill Blues and Punk Rock and mix into their own unique dark Irish Punk Blues stew.

The Bonnevilles are a no-frills guitar-and-drums two-piece from Ireland who play hard-hitting roots music they call “garage punk blues.”

Formed in Lurgan and Banbridge in 2009, the Bonnevilles feature guitarist and singer Andrew McGibbon, Jr. and drummer Chris McMullan. McGibbon was a blues fan whose take on the genre was turned upside down by R.L. Burnside‘s raucous collaboration with the Jon Spencer Blues ExplosionAss Pocket of Whiskey.

After checking out like-minded acts like the Immortal Lee County Killers and the Soledad Brothers, McGibbon decided to start doing some blues wailing of his own. Teaming up with McMullan, the group began playing out and in 2010 released their debut album, Good Suits and Fightin’ Boots.

As the band toured in support, both McGibbon and McMullan struggled with the death of a parent, which informed the duo’s second LP, 2012’s Folk Art and the Death of Electric Jesus.

As the Bonnevilles continued to tour the U.K. and Europe, they shared stages with the likes of Bob Log IIIthe Black Diamond HeaviesT-Model Ford, and Kid Congo Powers.

March 2016 saw the release of the Bonnevilles‘ third studio album, Arrow Pierce My Heart. The band kept up a busy touring schedule in the U.K. and Europe, and in 2017 Alive issued a collection of early recordings, Listen for Tone, as a limited vinyl-only Record Store Day release. In 2017 the band went back to the studio to cut their fourth studio effort. Dirty Photographs, which added a touch more detail to the band’s rough-hewn sound, was released in March 2018.

The band recently achieved a major milestone by landing one of their tracks in the soundtrack of the latest season of the hit Amazon Prime series, “Reacher.” This placement not only underscores their growing influence in the music industry but also serves as a testament to the universal appeal of their music.

Jake Xerxes Fussell

Singer, guitarist, and folk music interpreter Jake Xerxes Fussell has distinguished himself as one of his generation’s preeminent interpreters of traditional (and not so traditional) “folk” songs, a practice which he approaches with a refreshingly unfussy lack of nostalgia.

By recontextualizing ancient vernacular songs and sources of the American South, he allows them to breathe and speak for themselves and for himself; alternately inhabiting them and allowing them to inhabit him. In all his work, Fussell humanizes his material with his own curatorial and interpretive gifts, unmooring stories and melodies from their specific eras and origins and setting them adrift in our own waterways.

Fussell’s album Good and Green Again was released to critical acclaim in January of 2022. The album was produced by James Elkington and featured an ensemble of formidable musicians, including Casey Toll on upright bass, Libby Rodenbough on strings, Joe Westerlund on drums, and Joseph Decosimo on fiddle, as well as Bonnie “Prince” Billy, who contributed additional vocals.

Ibibio Sound Machine

Pull the Rope, the new record by Ibibio Sound Machine, casts the Eno Williams and Max Grunhard-led outfit in a new light.The hope, joy, and sexiness of their music remains, but, further honing the edge of their acclaimed 2022 album Electricity, the connection they aim to foster has shifted venues, from the sunny buoyancy of a sunlit festival to a sweat-soaked, all-night dance club. The atmosphere has changed, but you’re still having the time of your life.

Williams and Grunhard attribute this shift to a matter of collaborators, recording Pull the Rope with Sheffield-based producer Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A.) over the course of two weeks. The way the pair wrote songs changed significantly — rather than Eno penning lyrics to music generated by Max and company’s jamming, Orton started with Eno and Max writing together before adding the band. With less time in the studio and a new way of considering how they built songs, the duo found making decisions about Pull the Rope’s sound quicker and more instinctually than before.

In melding their songwriting process, Grunhard and Williams have, impossibly, pulled the trick of making Ibibio Sound Machine a tighter band than ever before, building out from their core in a way that highlights the electrifying  group of musicians they play with. Rather than recording with the full band in the room, Pull the Rope was sculpted, elements added and shaped by Grunhard, Williams, and Orton along the way. As a result, Pull the Rope is a nimble, sleek machine that’s thrilling from the first note of the opening title track, Eno’s otherworldly voice and PK Ambrose’s throbbing bass driving through a kaleidoscopic array of house, post-punk, funk, Afrobeat and disco, bangers and ballads, making an argument for unity that begins on the dancefloor.

The sound of Pull the Rope, then, is hope in darkness, bliss in spite of bleakness. Once again, Ibibio Sound Machine are here to provide the soundtrack to the best night of your life, and the better world to come.

Katherine Priddy

Since emerging with her debut EP Wolf, UK singer-songwriter Katherine Priddy has quickly become one of the most exciting names on the British music scene.

Priddy’s haunting vocals and distinctive finger-picking guitar style have already seen her sell out a headline tour, perform at prestigious festivals around the UK and abroad, including Glastonbury where she featured on their BBC 2 coverage.

She has supported a number of world class artistsincluding Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III and Vashti Bunyan, as well as a recent show with Guy Garvey at The Roundhouse. She also recently featured on a Double LP of Nick Drake coversreleased by Chrysalis Records with other artists such as Self Esteem, Aldous Harding and John Grant.

Her debut album, The Eternal Rocks Beneath was released in June 2021 to great acclaim. The album singles received 200+ plays across national radio including BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 2 and reached No.1 in the Official UK Folk Charts. Now, early 2024 sees the release of Priddy’s eagerly-awaited second album,The Pendulum Swing,on February 16th, via Cooking Vinyl. The LP explores themes of home, family, love and memory, as Priddy seeks to move forwards whilst acknowledging and honouring all that has gone before.

Her live performances are engaging, moving and amusing by turn, delivering original songs with emotional maturity, depth and particularly noteworthy lyrics. Despite the delicate nuances of her sound, Katherine Priddy is not a fragile wallflower, but a determined young woman making her mark.

Utterly brilliantone of my favourite voices in contemporary music– Guy Garvey, BBC 6 Music

An accomplished set of original songs delivered in a breathtaking voiceThe Observer

A voice of delicacy and poignancy with its own subtle strength underpinned by a skilled observer’s eye” –Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2

Blue Whale (‘Last Immediate Images’ Album Launch)

*Original tickets still valid

Having underscored their status as one of Ireland’s most fiercely unpigeonholeable bands on their debut album Process, Belfast quartet Blue Whale make their highly-anticipated return with their forthcoming second LP, Last Immediate Images.

Recorded and produced by Gilla Band’s Dan Fox, Last Immediate Images is a masterful expansion, and deft deconstruction, of what the Quietus hailed as their “chaotic, yet controlled experimental rock.”

Comprising guitarists Michael O’Halloran and Ben Behzadafshar, drummer John Macormac and bassist Andrew Melville, Blue Whale were a supremely shapeshifting live proposition by the time the genre-mauling Process arrived in 2018.

Andy Cairns of Therapy? was reminded of free-jazz pioneer, Albert Ayler “playing with a bunch of kids that grew up on Steve Albini records,” while The Line of Best Fit said “the mathy, jazz-flecked brew hurtles through a thorny tunnel of riffs and percussive flailing–it should be utter chaos, but Blue Whale make it honeyed.”

Fast forward to 2023 and the band’s craft is as mercurial as ever, yet elevated by taking a breather. It remains thickety and combustive in all the right places but now, Blue Whale sound like a band equally potent in restraint.

“A lot of our early stuff would jump all over the place,” adds Michael O’Halloran. “Now we have the confidence to have a central theme to a song, build around that and not feel like it has to go on a big journey. I think that’s why it sounds more cohesive.”

Lauded for evoking everyone from Deerhoof and Swans, to Slint and Captain Beefheart, all the while sounding uniquely incendiary; with a particularly fierce and fun dynamism seen on the live stage. Strain your ear elsewhere through Last Immediate Images and you might hear flickers and ghosts of ex-Tom Waits’ guitarist Marc Ribot, Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan, a slither of A Silver Mt. Zion, and the shuffle and energy of London jazz scene acts like Sons of Kemet.

“Fierce and playful, chaotic and under control” – The Quietus

“The mathy, jazz-flecked brew hurtles through a thorny tunnel of riffs and percussive flailing – it should be utter chaos, but Blue Whale make it honeyed.” – The Line of Best Fit

Éabha Campbell

Over the course of the festival we will have our Graduate Awardee showing In Catalyst; Éabha Campbell. Éabha Campbell is an Irish multi-disciplinary fine artist. Specialising in traditional oil painting and the expanded practice of sound-based performance and video installation, their work explores themes of decay, abjection, and visceral experiences from a queer perspective. Campbell was awarded a First Class Honours in Fine Art BA (Hons) from Belfast School of Art.

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The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and Out To Lunch are annual festivals of music, comedy, theatre, art and literature which take place in January and May in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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