Online events with the Riverside Theatre

Coleraine’s Riverside Theatre has a number of online events planned in the coming weeks.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 4:05 pm

First up on Tuesday, March 16, at 7.30pm is ‘The Patron of St Patrick’s: Irish Writing, Mental Health And The Legacy Of Jonathan Swift’ - a lecture by Dr James Ward.

Jonathan Swift is world famous as author of Gulliver’s Travels and Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. Less well known, however, is that he founded Ireland’s first psychiatric hospital. St Patrick’s Hospital is the oldest institution of its kind in Europe and continues to serve the community today.

This talk discusses what might have driven Swift to establish this institution, why his work is preoccupied with questions of mental health and why his own condition has been subject to endless speculation and posthumous diagnosis. It traces the close and enduring connection between Swift, Irish writing and mental health through such celebrated writers as Samuel Beckett and W.B. Yeats, as well as poets Derek Mahon and Austin Clarke, both of whom were patients at St Patrick’s.

Dr Cormac McSparron

Next on the list, on St Patrick’s Day at 2.30pm, is ‘The Pre-History of Ulster Until The Arrival Of St Patrick’ - a lecture by Dr Cormac McSparron of Queen’s University, Belfast.

This lecture is a whistle stop tour of Irish prehistory, focused on Ulster. The lecture begins with the retreat of the icecaps, discusses the earliest known hunter gather settlers in Ireland approximately 8000BC, before moving on to look at the first farming communities in what archaeologists call the New Stone Age or Neolithic commencing about 4000BC years ago.

Dr McSparron will discuss, briefly, these first farmers, settlements, their technology and the impressive megalithic tombs which they have left scattered across the landscape. He will finally look at the sudden end of Bronze Age Ireland, around 800BC and the succeeding Iron Age a period known as much for its invisibility as its visibility in the Irish archaeological record. On the way he will touch upon some topics as DNA, migration, and whether there was such a thing as the “Celts”.

Finally, on March 23 at 2.30pm is ‘Textile art, peace building and human rights in Latin America’ - a talk by Lorna Dillon.

El amor no mata by Memorarte. Photographer Marcelo Aragonese

Leverhulme Fellow Lorna Dillon will speak about textile art in Latin America. She will reflect on the valuable work being carried out today by participatory needlework groups in Colombia, Mexico and Chile. The sewing groups use fibre art to campaign against injustice and rebuild the fabric of societies experiencing human rights abuses or conflict. Lorna will discuss the needlework carried out by the group Fuentes Rojas in Mexico, which is part of a broader peace embroidery movement in the country called Bordando por la paz (Embroidering for Peace).

She will also speak about the sewing group Tejedoras de Guayacán Bojayá Chocó in Colombia and the art collective Memorarte in Chile. These groups make embroideries, appliqués and quilts, which are profoundly beautiful and also important in memorialisation processes related to justice.

Each group has its own unique way of advocating for a better society however they all share the values of uniting communities and using needlework to open up a dialogue about human rights issues.

All the events are ‘pay what you can’ and all facilitated online. Go to