Derry hopes for boost from City of Culture tag

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CITY of Culture status could do for Londonderry what the Olympics did for London, organisers have claimed.

It is hoped the year-long event will transform perceptions of a city blighted by some of the worst violence of Northern Ireland’s past.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of Culture Company 2013, said the plethora of art, music and drama planned for every month next year would also restore civic pride and rebuild confidence.

“Derry has suffered from being at the epicentre of the Troubles but also having second-city syndrome,” said Ms McCarthy.

“But it has punched above its weight in terms of cultural output during the Troubles and now it can make a very significant statement about its own self-confidence, its own self-belief and its own cultural richness in this City of Culture moment.”

Londonderry has staved off competition from Norwich, Birmingham and Sheffield to take the City of Culture mantle.

Highlights of the programme include a pageant on the River Foyle to celebrate the return of Colmcille – a warrior monk said to have founded the city – scripted by Frank Cottrell Boyce, who wrote the much-lauded Olympics opening ceremony.

Ms McCarthy said: “I think one of the defining moments for the City of Culture year is going to be the return of Colmcille.

“It is a large-scale public performance spectacle that uses the landscape of this city to literally bring St Columba back, and that is going to really blow people away.

“That is going to be very special. That is going to be our Olympic moment I think ... that will leave people feeling ‘wow’.

“If we can get close to what the Olympics achieved, I would be a very happy person.”

Other key events in the programme include the all-Ireland Fleadh in August and a military tattoo in August.