Past Festivals

2020 Festival

Building A City Of Grace

4 Corners Festival 2020

Building A City Of Grace

Jan 31st


Student challenge to reimagine Belfast 

Sixth form students from across Belfast will gather at the Ulster University Belfast campus to explore what makes a city a positive place to live as individuals and a community. Participants will be invited to consider the impact of architecture on a city’s inhabitants in practical and aesthetic terms. Workshops will encourage students to reconstruct their vision of the Belfast of the future, harnessing its potential and giving young people a voice in shaping the development of their city. Facilitators include Arthur Parke, architect with FCB Studios who designed the new UU campus, and the published poet, educator and community arts worker Shelley Tracey. 

Jan 31st


Exploring grace in music, speech and song

Snow Patrol have celebrated 25 years as a band. Their 2018 Wildness record and the 25th Anniversary Reworked album have put them back in the Premier League of rock bands. Their founder and chief songwriter Gary Lightbody was born in Bangor but has grown to see Belfast as his spiritual home. In this intimate evening, in conversation with Steve Stockman, Gary will talk about his upbringing, the impact of the Troubles, writing about Belfast as well as his weighty contributions to building Belfast into a city of grace. Some songs too we hope!

Feb 1st 


‘…We should have used Pity and Grace to break the circle…’

Tony Kennedy, Chair of the John Hewitt Society, talks about one of our greatest poets, covering his life, poetry and its continuing relevance. Hewitt was born and spent his early years in nearby 96 Cliftonpark Avenue and the talk will be followed by a walk in the area where he grew up. He had a happy childhood during which many of his attitudes to life were shaped by his father who was principal of Agnes Street National School. The walk will retrace the road to school taken by a young John Hewitt and his sister in the early years of the last century.

John Hewitt’s poetry, remembering life at that time, will be read during the walk

Feb 1st 


Calling all knitters and craft lovers. You and your knitting group are welcome to join others at Fitzroy Presbyterian Church

Bring knitted gifts and to knit or crochet together squares for blankets which can be gifted to individuals or homes, hostels in different parts of the city.

This is a chance to join and natter and share our inspirations and projects from different corners of Belfast. 

All are welcome. 

Feb 1st 


Explorations through poetry, music and song

Singer-songwriter Tommy Sands, along with Belfast poet Linda Molloy and former loyalist prisoner turned playwright and poet. Robert ‘Beano’ Niblock, will explore a variety of themes in song, music and poetry including murder, prison, serious injury, and recruitment into a paramilitary organisation. The overarching theme of the evening will be ‘Grace beneath the Cranes.’ Tommy Sands’ most famous song There Were Roses is about Protestant friend murdered by Republican paramilitaries. Linda Molloy’s 18 year old son was the victim of a sectarian murder in 1996. Robert ‘Beano’ Niblock’s plays include Tartan and A Reason to Believe. 

Feb 2nd 


Building A City of Grace

A live ecumenical service broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster. The preacher is Rev Dr Lesley Carroll, a presbyterian minister who is the Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and a former member of the Consultative Group on Dealing with the Past. The service will focus on how we can build grace-filled relationships with those in our city who are most marginalised. There will be prayers and songs of grace written in and about Belfast. 

Feb 2nd 


Finding Christ in your neighbour 

Bishop Alan Abernathy of the Church of Ireland 

Bishop Alan Abernethy of the Church of Ireland returns to St Anthony’s, the scene of one of the most horrifying and transforming moments of his life, to talk about the power of grace in

changing attitudes and creating new possibilities. As a fifteen-year-old boy Alan lived with his family next door to St Anthony’s, witnessing in 1973 one of many attacks on the church down the years.

There will be a response by his friend from university days, Brendan McAllister, the Interim

Advocate for Victims and Survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse, who is training to be a

Roman Catholic permanent deacon. 

Bishop Alan recalls: “watched late at night as a crowd of rioters desecrated St. Anthony’s and nearly killed the priest. This was a moment that changed my life forever, it led me on a journey of ecumenical endeavour committed to finding Christin my neighbour.”

Out of the experience he resolved to get to know Catholics and subsequently met Brendan, “one of the grace moments of my life.”

Feb 3rd


The need for grace to tell a better story

“Each generation has a sacred task /To tell a better story than it was told/”

A story made, as honey is in bees/ From things that we have found outside ourselves.”

The words of poet, BAFTA award-winning filmmaker and playwright Damian Gorman who

will be in conversation with Judith Hill, the UTV reporter, about his work and the role of grace in his life. The conversation will be interspersed, and the evening enriched with music and song from Belfast singer songwriter Anthony Toner. Damian, who has encouraged other people’s writings for more than thirty years, set up An Crann/The Tree, a project to help people tell and hear stories of the conflict. He will read and reflect on extracts from his poems and writings.

Feb 4th


“I was in prison, and you visited me.” This year’s banquet is an opportunity to express

solidarity with families who have to cope when their loved ones are in prison. The turmoil

experienced by partners and children in this situation is often unbearable. We are grateful to

the Northern Ireland Association for the Care. and Resettlement of Offenders (NIACRO), the

Quakers and Barnardo’s for partnering with us in the organisation of this event.

Feb 4th


Building a sustainable city

For the second year we are delighted to partner with the Linen Quarter Business Improvement District to deliver an event in this iconic venue. This year we explore the intersection of faith, ecology, economics and the built environment with a panel of speakers: John Barry (Professor of Green Political Economy at QUE), Dympna Mallon (Laity Coordinator at the Society of African Missions), Naomi McKeown (Methodist College student activist and prize-winner in the Newnham College Cambridge Woolf Essay Prize). Jonny Hanson (Managing Director of the Jubilee Creation Care organisation) and Chris McCracken

(Managing Director of the Linen Quarter BID) The event will be chaired by Dr Gladys Ganiel.

Feb 5th


Exploring grace in sport

Young people in Years 8-10 are invited to an exciting evening of sports delivered in

partnership with PeacePlayers International. Participants will try their hand at playing games

including GAA, soccer and rugby in integrated teams from across Belfast. Coaches and mentors from the PeacePlayers’ cross-community programme will explore the concept of grace in sport as well as provide an insight into the values that can be instilled through participation in team sports. The event is inspired by and modelled on the PeacePlayers Interface Games. Many of the participants will be renewing friendships forged during the Interface Games but new contestants are encouraged to apply.

Feb 5th


Is there a place for grace in football? The night begins with a tour of this iconic new stadium that symbolises renewal and hope for a better future.

Then at 7.45 pm a panel of the most senior figures from four of our most celebrated clubs in

the Northern Ireland Football League discusses soccer’s potential for overcoming division, building bridges and promoting community healing.

Taking part will be Gerard Lawlor, Chair of Cliftonville; Roy McGivern, Chair of Linfield;

Stephen Henderson, Chair of Glentoran; and Mark Langhammer, Vice-Chair of Crusaders. The discussion will be chaired by the broadcaster and soccer commentator, Joel Taggart of 88C Northern Ireland.

Feb 6th


Fun and friendship in the classroom

This is a family show created by Play it by Ear, a Christian drama company, and pupils from eight primary schools. It looks at what it means to show and experience grace both as an individual and as a member of society. There wil be plenty of silliness, lots of laughs and hopefully moments which will get you thinking. Schools taking part come from the four corners of Belfast: Holy Cross Girls and Cavehill in the North; Botanic and Holy Rosary in the South; St Matthew’s and Victoria Parkin the East and Edenbrooke and St Kevin’s in the West.

The show is derived from workshops that Play it by Ear wil have conducted with pupils from these schools earlier in the week.

Feb 6th


Exploring how faith shaped responses to violence and its aftermath

Bishop Donal McKeown, the Bishop of Derry, will respond to an evening of readings from the powerful new book, Considering Grace: Presbyterians and the Troubles, by Gladys Ganiel and Jamie Yohanis.

Dr McKeown is kindly standing in for the late Seamus Mallon.

The book is based on interviews with 120 people, mostly Presbyterians, in which they relate how they coped with the mayhem of the Troubles. It includes commentary from ten critical friends of Presbyterianism, including Seamus Mallon who says, “reconciliation between the communities hasn’t even started [and] that’s an indictment of all of us.” The evening will include music by Dave Thompson, reflections by the authors, and an opportunity for discussion on what stories of the have to say about our future.

Feb 7th


Learning from the night before

Young clergy, seminarians and Queen’s students (on the MRes in Theology and MA in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice) will be invited to share lunch and in-depth discussion on the previous evenings event on Considering Grace in Story and Song – with Bishop Donal McKeown, which they will be required to attend.

Participants will discuss what they learned and the implications of that for their ministries and/or for public theology. The event also will enable them to meet their counterparts from other denominations in an informal setting, laying the groundwork for future collaborative relationships. This event is supported by the Senator George | Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at QUE.

Feb 7th


Keeping going through grace

Music has been a constant presence in Stephen Travers’ life. From his childhood, listening to Irish folk music, into his teen hears witnessing the advent of the Beatles and rock and roll to playing music himself in bands. His most horrific of times as he was witness to and badly injured in the attack on time with the Miami Showband where was the happiest of times and the band that stole the lives reconciliation, the music still plays on. Now, a campaigner for truth.

Join Stephen in conversation with Jim Deeds talking about his life and the songs that inspired him, motivated him and kept him going through his life. Expect some songs to be played live on stage along the way as we join Stephen in recalling his songs of grace.

Feb 8th


Generating grace along the Lagan

Join us outside the Dock Café in the Titanic Quarter as we set off upstream along the River Lagan, which cuts through our city in the same way we need life-giving grace to flow through it. We’ll walk to Cutters Wharf and beyond (for those who are able) along the towpath, sharing stories, poems and dreams. ‘The walk will last two hours including stop off points for those poems and stories. , a bus will be available to transport those wishing to return to Titanic Quarter or to be dropped off along the way.

Feb 8th


Opening up new perspectives

Imagine songs written about Belfast as a soundtrack to the life of the city. Ken Haddock is going to bring us a Belfast Songbook that will lead us into the wonder and wounds of his home city. Ken Haddock is an authentic voice of Belfast city. playing residencies across our corners for thirty years. Ken has a soulful voice that draws emotion and his ability to reinvent a song opens up. new perspectives on their meaning. As he sings familiar songs with a Haddock twist, Steve Stockman will chat to him about the songs, the city and Ken’s own story within.

Feb 9th


Building God’s kingdom at home and abroad

The Festival concludes with two speakers whose work underlines the power and need of grace everywhere.

Fr Peter McVerry, SJ has become synonymous with outreach to the poor and homeless across Ireland.

He began his inner city. He is founder of the award-winning Peter McVerry Trust, a national housing and homeless charity.

Fr Peter will challenge us to go to the margins and be the presence of grace ourselves.

Ruth Koch is NI Director of Tearfund, a charity that has been bringing transformation to people living in poverty across the world for more than 50 years, Tearfund builds up communities; provides emergency aid and advocates for change. Ruth will share stories of grace and unpack how we can stand with our brother unshackled by global poverty.

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