The Lagan Love Trail – What happened?

I am sorry I have no images to post. Having said that, I still think it is better to go ahead and write a post than write nothing because I have no photos to go with it just now. Bear with me.They might come, in time.

The event itself; a poetry reading, amongst the installations of the eco-arts lab beside the Lagan and amongst the trees, didn’t look like it was going to be blessed necessarily. It had rained heavily all morning and the weather looked like it was going to give the downpour an extra heave-ho as we arrived in the car-park to set up. ‘We’re mad’, I thought, ‘Look at the state of this weather?’

At the bottom of the car park, the guys who run the coffee van, had set out two little aluminium tables and a  half a dozen chairs. One table had a little vase with a single bright Gerbera sprouting out of it – a defiant sort of optimistic ‘Ha-Ha’ in-your-face-flower. The guy from the coffee van, ran back and forth setting up; he jouked his head down as he did so, as though jouking his head down was going to keep him dry and stop the rain skedaddling down the back of his neck anyway – it didn’t.

In the thrum of the rain on the roof of the car, my friend and I took time to catch up and have a yarn with each other. Every now and again we’d look out and say something like, ‘Well this is gonna be craic……….., look at the state of this.’

Still, we’d said we’d be there and when we made it to the Love Nest, Liam and Gerry were there already, as was Cathal, Lindsey and some others of what Liam has called The A Team. He leads. From magic black bin-liners come bunting, bubbles, balloons, a canopy, rope, images printed and painted to perspex, which were hoisted into the trees among the dogwood sculptures of fish and hearts, and the Gods-eyes. Nearby, there are myriad bird boxes,  painted in bright colours and finished with funky swirls – they are ‘Minnowburn’s new riverside apartments’ Liam explains. The National Trust guys have created a path from the car-park to the Arts Lab, and include the reading and the music event as part of the Walk NI event they are hosting.

Belfast people are game. They turn up for the walk in their abundance. They bring their dogs.  They dress for the weather, and the worst of it holds off and in the end we don’t event need the canopy. Among the trees, alongside the birds, we added poems, and tunes to the art works. People canoed past, down the Lagan. After the rain, the ground smelled fresh, and the acoustic was brightened in a subtle way, with run-off from the branches. By some other miracle, the guys in the coffee van produced, good Americano coffee and delicious slices of pizza, from a wood burning pizza oven.

It was divine. Really. 

It happened.

It isn’t done happening – that continues. There will be more making of poems, along the stretch from Minnowburn to Lisburn. People are being encouraged to write, to add seven lines of verse to the project; a line for every mile of the trail. People can also add to the art works and join in creating the installations.

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