Mayo makes pictorial record of millennium 'big snow'


When Christmas 2000 was marked by the heaviest fall of snow that the island had experienced in over 60 years many people took out their cameras to record the moment. No more so than in Co Mayo, where a baby was snapped, crying in a Moses basket; a little girl called Rebecca made an igloo; and staff at Claremorris swimming pool donned their togs and rolled around in the icy flakes.

Vincent McGrath took a surreal image of tyres on top of a silage pit covered in snow; Killary harbour resembled a Norwegian fjord when it was captured from its northern shore by Geraldine Nee; Trish Forde caught frozen reeds at Lough Carra, near Ballintubber. All of these images, and many more, were submitted to Mayo County Council when it had the foresight to organise a competition which gave expression to every form of activity and life in the county during the "big snow".

A team of judges was engaged, including award-winning photographer Fergus Bourke, Aosdana member and film-maker Bob Quinn, actor Mick Lally, and Sally Dunleavy, former head of the Irish Countrywomen's Association in Mayo and organiser of photography competitions.

First overall and first in the nature category was Father P. J. Gibbons for his image of pure-bred cockerels waiting to be fed on Christmas morning - entitled Too Cold to Crow.

The pictures by other category winners are reproduced by Mayo County Librarian Austin Vaughan in a wonderful collection, A Mayo Moment: Photographers of County Mayo, Christmas 2000. It is available from the local authority and bookshops at £19.70 (€25) hardback.

Mayo's Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar opens its doors for the new year this coming Friday with an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Varvara Shavrova. Entitled Inscriptions: Painting the Line, the work was carried out during two fellowships at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation. Varvara Shavrova was born in Moscow. She has been surrounded by brushes and paints as long as she can remember and made her first etching when she was three years old. She moved to London in 1989 and set up her studios in Hackney where she has worked since.

She has exhibited widely in Britain and Europe and won several fellowships and prizes. Her most recent community art project at the Aldgate Hostel in the London East End was a 38-metre mural that features on the CD cover of Tom Jones's album Reload.

Varvara Shavrova's Inscriptions will be opened at the Linenhall Arts Centre by Irish painter Nick Miller. The exhibition runs until January 26th. Further information from the Linenhall Arts Centre, Linenhall Street, Castlebar. Tel: 094 23733; e-mail: website:

Susie Lamb, daughter of Connemara actor Peadar Lamb and actress Geraldine Plunkett, takes to the stage in Galway's Taibhdhearc Theatre this week. She has been cast for the first Irish language production of Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa by Aisling GhΘar Theatre Company.

Donegal poet Cathal ╙ Searcaigh, patron of Aisling GhΘar, suggested that the play be translated, and the task was given to D≤nall Mac Giolla C≤ill from M∅n a Chladaigh in the Donegal gaeltacht.

Damsha ag L·ghnasa is the fourth Friel play to be performed in Irish by the theatre company, and runs from Thursday until Sunday before heading north to Donegal, Derry, Belfast and other venues.