16 novembre 2019

Change to programme

Chers Amis,

I am sorry to have to tell you that, due to unforeseen circumstances, we are unable to proceed with our talk …. “Haussmann et Paris embellie”.

It is planned to reschedule this talk early next year.

However we will still be meeting in The Dark Horse on Wednesday 20th November at 7:30pm. The idea will be to recreate, in our favourite Belfast venue, the atmosphere of a French Café with music and chat (French and English) and perhaps a little surprise or two.

Looking forward to seeing you in ….Le Cheval Noir ( sorry, The Dark Horse )
on … le mercredi 20 novembre 2019 à 19h30

À bientôt, Philip

12 novembre 2019

Bulletin mensuel : novembre 2019

Chers Amis,
The next meeting of the Cercle Français de Belfast will be …
on Mercredi 20 novembre 2019 à 19h.30
in The Dark Horse Coffee House,
30-34, Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LB

Topic: Haussmann et Paris embellie
Speakers: Hélène GUILLET et Philip McGRORY

Hélène et Philip vous emmènent dans le Paris de Napoléon III avec les grands travaux du Baron Haussmann pour l’embellissement de Paris.
Hélène and Philip take you back to the Paris of Napoleon III with the large-scale transformation of the city under the design of Baron Haussmann.

Book Launch by Cercle français Life Member, John Crothers

The Official Launch of …
Echoes of a Distant Music, a Biography of Ronald E Lee, MBE (1929-1992)
byJohn Crothers,
will take place ...
in St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast,
on Friday 22nd November at 7.30pm.

This month John Crothers, who now lives in Paris, returns to his native city to launch his new book … Echoes of a Distant Music, a Biography of Ronnie Lee (1929-1992).

Ronnie Lee was unique, in that he blazed a trail for the choral directors who would come after him. The fact that he was a personal friend of, and admired by, such musicians as David Willcocks, John Rutter and Yan Pascal Tortelier, speaks for itself. His life's work took him to St Matthew's Parish Church, St Bartholomew's Parish Church and Grosvenor High School, where his singers covered themselves with glory, both at national and international level. His recordings on the Chandos label with the Ulster Orchestra have become the stuff of legend.

Of particular interest to us is the fact that the very last concert Ronnie conducted publicly, in October 1992, was for the newly-constituted Alliance française de Belfast, the brainchild of Professor Colin Radford, and the forerunner of the Cercle français.

With two choirs, Grosvenor (conducted by Edward Craig) and Renaissance (conducted by Ian Mills), singing some of the works associated with the legendary Belfast conductor the evening promises to be a musical delight and one which members will much enjoy. Make a note in your diary … St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, Friday 22nd November at 7.30pm.
Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday 20th November.

À bientôt, Philip

08 novembre 2019

Tristes nouvelles : Hilary HEADLEY

Hilary pictured at her 2017 Cercle talk on Debussy and friends
Chers Amis,
It was with great sadness that we learned this morning of the death of Hilary Headley. Hilary was a member of the Cercle Français de Belfast from its early days and in more recent times was a much valued and active member of our committee.
She will be greatly missed.
Hilary’s funeral is on Wednesday 13th November at 12.00 in St George’s Parish Church, High Street, Belfast then to Roselawn Cemetery at 2.30.


29 octobre 2019

Reportage : Francis Hutcheson talk by Dr James Dingley

Dr James Dingley presenting his talk on Francis Hutcheson at the Dark Horse

Cercle member Eileen Griffiths reports on our last talk given by Dr James Dingley entitled Francis Hutcheson and the foundation of Modern France.

At the Dark Horse on Wednesday 23 October, Dr James Dingley gave a very comprehensive and illuminating talk on the moral philosopher Francis Hutcheson, who was born in Saintfield in 1694 and whose work influenced social and political thinking in Great Britain and Ireland from the 18th century onwards.  He was hailed as the ‘Father of the Scottish Enlightenment’ and his philosophy informed the United Irishmen movement. His influence spread further afield and his ideas of no state religion, with a stress on individual civil and religious liberty and equality, also contributed to the French and American revolutions.

Hutcheson was a Presbyterian minister of the New Light movement, which embraced all ideas of enlightenment and science, believing that studying and obeying the laws of nature brought one closer to God. They also thought that religion should be a private matter, and that better results were obtained when there weren’t the constraints imposed by the hierarchies of an established church. Dr. Dingley explained that this partly accounts for the Presbyterian church being such a rich ground for radical philosophies at that time,  though their position also played a part in that they were excluded from the body politic until the end of the century and were unable to attend the main universities. In fact, Hutcheson did his best work in his ten years at a Dissenting academy in Dublin. These academies taught new sciences and business and were intellectual hothouses, being influenced by the ideas of the English and Continental Enlightenment. All the European thinkers read each other and in Ulster, the more practical philosophy of the English met the more abstract philosophy of the Europeans. Hutcheson was able to benefit from this and to carry the ideas forward to Glasgow university where he taught for the last sixteen years of his life.

After 200 years of religious wars Hutcheson and his peers believed in freeing the individual from constraints and oppression, in taking religion out of the public sphere so that everyone had equal opportunities. They adhered to the view that man is not innately sinful, and that order and harmony would come via inner discipline and through mutual inter-dependence, not from aristocratic or clerical control.  Hutcheson believed in the greatest happiness for the greatest number and that virtue and good behaviour, not greed, self-interest or rights, would yield the greatest happiness. The industrious individual was the model of virtue, order and conduct.

In terms of a French connection, pamphlets of the French revolution reflected Ulster Presbyterian ideals. Hutcheson was a major influence on Voltaire and Rousseau and through them made a large contribution to the French revolution, to the ideas of the separation of law and state and to the no teaching of religion in schools. The French Enlightenment was very pro-Plantation, attracted to the concept of civility and progress. The belief was that trade encouraged civility because people had to learn to liaise and cooperate and create an open space for everyone.  The French language was commonly used for trade in Europe at that time and James pointed out that our local Newsletter carried adverts for French dancing etc.

Hutcheson died in 1746 and James expressed surprise that a man of Hutcheson’s stature, a mentor to such notable figures as Adam Smith and David Hume and a major influencer in Europe and America, should be largely unknown in his homeland, with no statue, only a plaque to celebrate and immortalize his life.  Dr. Dingley said that on his travels abroad he often met people who were much more aware of Hutcheson’s significance, than here at home.  Certainly it seems as though a man of his ilk could be useful in our current crises!

Eileen Griffiths

Eileen's collection of vignettes, Older not Wiser, was published earlier this year by Lupus Books, ISBN 978-1-916031-80-7.  We are grateful to her for writing this piece for our blog and take this opportunity to extend special thanks to James for a "very comprehensive and illuminating talk".
Un très grand merci !

20 octobre 2019

Francis Hutcheson and the foundation of Modern France

James Dingley, pictured at his Durkheim talk last year at the Dark Horse

On Wednesday 23 October James Dingley, having delighted us with his talk last year on Émile Durkheim, returns as our conférencier to illuminate the role played by Francis Hutcheson in the foundation of modern France.
Considered as the father of the Scottish Enlightenment, Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) in fact hailed from Saintfield, County Down.  Well known to the French philosophes such as Voltaire and Rousseau, he had a profound effect on the development of modern France and the ideals it embodied from 1789 on. Although he was a major thinker of the Enlightenment he is now almost forgotten in his native Ulster.
James's talk is sure to both inform and delight and we look forward to welcoming members, old and new, as well as their guests. 

Venez nombreux !

7.30 pm Dark Horse Coffee House, 30-34 Hill Street in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.

11 octobre 2019

80 minutes with Seamus Heaney

Saturday 19 October at 2pm – Admission free 

To mark the year that would have been his 80th birthday,
Alliance Française DublinLe Cercle Français de Belfast and the National Library of Ireland are proud to present an evocation by Jim Holland of his friendship
with the poet through anecdotes and readings of early poems in English and French.

Introductions and reading of poems in English by Jim Holland and versions in French

by special readers Maryvonne LeRoyClaudine McKeownAllison Neill-Rabaux, and Chris Tracey.

The event will be launched by the President of Alliance Française Dublin Mr Pat Cox.

National Library of Ireland, Kildare St, Dublin 2

08 octobre 2019

Bulletin mensuel octobre 2019

Chers Amis,
The next meeting of the Cercle Français de Belfast will be …
on Mercredi 9 Octobre 2019 à 19h.30
in Gallaher's Lounge, The Harp Bar, Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LB

Topic: Cercle de lecture: “Eux sur la photo” by Hélène Gestern

Whether you have read this book in French or in English (“The People in the Photo”) or even if you haven't managed to read it yet come along to the Dark Horse on Wednesday evening to what is sure to be a very enjoyable discussion.

French Bal

Bal Feirste, the music group featuring both French and local musicians, invite you to their monthly dance session on ...

Date: Saturday 12th October 2019
Venue: Sunflower Club, Union St, Belfast (upstairs)
Dance workshop: 16.00-16.30
Bal: 16.30 - 18.00 
(this is a free event, donations welcome)
Remember no experience or partner needed. The Bal is a time to practise your moves and guidance will be given at the start of each dance.

Looking forward to seeing you on 9th October.

À bientôt, Philip

29 septembre 2019

CfB rehearsal at Accidental Theatre

Chers amis,
You are cordially invited to our open rehearsal of the poetry reading ‘80 minutes with Seamus Heaney’, to be presented soon at the National Library in Dublin.

Our rehearsal will take place this coming Saturday, 5 October, at 3pm in the Rehearsal Room at the Accidental Theatre, 12-13 Shaftesbury Square, Belfast, BT2 7DB. 

There is no need to book your place for the rehearsal and no charge to attend. However, places will be limited and allocated on a first come, first served basis. It will last approximately 1.5 hours.

A quick reminder of the event:

An evocation by Jim Holland of his friendship with the poet through readings of early poems in English and French. Introductions and reading of poems in English by Jim Holland and versions in French by special readers Maryvonne LeRoy, Claudine McKeown, Allison Neill-Rabaux and Chris Tracey.

Drop us an email if you’d like any further information.

À samedi !


14 juin 2019

Visite guidée. Robert PIMLEY

Visitors to Belfast somehow don’t seem to be deterred by our often inclement weather. Many are easy to spot making their way round the city in large groups following a guide pointing out interesting features that locals seem not to notice. The word blasé might describe the resident’s apparent indifference. The weather was dependably unseasonal for the cercle’s last event of the year as a dozen or so members gathered for a visite guidée led round and conducted in French by Robert PIMLEY.

Robert has plenty of experience leading groups from France and while the majority take place from the comfort of a tour bus, he is just as at home in the pedestrianised areas of the “Half Bap” and the Cathedral Quarter.

Assembling at the Dark Horse at 18h 30 precisely our exploration starts with the Café House itself and the just completed embellishment of a poetry courtyard. The long term feature of dozens of yellow umbrellas suspended upside-down from the entry’s ceiling is just visible through the new gates - tantalisingly close as the rain falls heavily.

French groups visiting Belfast

Commercial Court as usual has plenty of people impervious to the weather and taking for granted the loud and clear commentary in French. They are used to such comings, soundings and goings. What was nice about this walk was that Robert treated us as if we were another of his French groups encountering the stops en route as if seeing them for the first time. This approach would be useful for those members who might at some future point find themselves in the role of escorting their visiting Francophone friends around the city.

On foot and on screen 
The visite made its way to various places of interest and eventually returned full cercle to the Dark Horse where part two of the evening would shortly begin. The sound and aroma of grinding coffee and French accordion music percolated the dampness. The physical tour over, it was time to join the virtual one.
In a sequence of about 30 diapositives Robert took us further afield to the compass points of Belfast. Again we were treated as French visitors who had arrived on a medium sized cruise ship in the Port of Belfast. This ship docks in Belfast several times a year and on one occasion was able, due to its size, to dock at Portrush.

The sequence of slides absorbed us for the next 45 minutes and this attendee picked up some interesting new facts about this place called home.

Un très grand merci !
Robert’s coffee had gone cold by the time he finished his tour de force - almost two hours in loud, clear French - and his tour groups, physical and virtual, expressed their warm appreciation.
Outside the rain showed little sign of easing as we left the final session of this year’s programme. At the courtyard another guide and another group, this time English-speaking, were looking through the gates - those parapluies still tantalisingly close.

Note: The programme for our 2019-20 season has now been finalised,  There is plenty to suit a range of interests.
Back in September,  À la prochaine !

05 juin 2019

Bulletin mensuel juin 2019

Chers amis,
The next meeting of the Cercle Français de Belfast will be …
on Mercredi (Wednesday) 12 juin 2019
at 18:30 for the walking tour and 19:30 for the virtual tour
in Dark Horse Coffee House,
30-34, Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LB (Directions attached)

Topic: A French walking and virtual tour of Belfast
Speaker: Robert PIMLEY

Join us for TWO guided tours of Belfast city centre en français. Plenty of information to share with any French-speaking friends you may have visiting.


Bal Feirste's next Workshop/Bal will take place on …

Saturday 8th June 2019
In The Sunflower Pub, Union St, Belfast (upstairs)
Dance workshop: 17.00-17.30
Bal: 17.30 - 19.00
(this is a free event, donations welcome)
Remember no experience or partner needed. The Bal is a time to practise your moves and guidance will be given at the start of each dance.
À bientôt