Frank Ormsby Honoured at BBC Proms Northern Ireland

Frank Ormsby Honoured at BBC Proms Northern Ireland

Poetry at the Proms in Northern Ireland

Enniskillen-born poet Frank Ormsby was the guest of honour at the BBC Proms in the Park Northern Ireland on 9 September 2017, as part of the Last Night of the Proms celebrations across the UK.  The event at Castle Coole featured some of the biggest names in classical music and musical theatre, including Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway, percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, violinist Daniel Hope and singer and actress Ruthie Henshall.  The event was held in the grounds of Castle Coole outside Enniskillen in front of an audience of over 6,000, and was broadcast live on BBC Radio Ulster.  A highlights programme has already gone out on BBC 4 television and a programme dedicated to the Castle Coole event was broadcast on BBC One Northern Ireland on 24 September .  This is available here (from 11.29).

Actor Adrian Dunbar, who is also from County Fermanagh, read two poems by Frank Ormsby, accompanied by a specially commissioned piece of music from Graeme Stewart.  A Lull Between Showers was performed by the Ulster Orchestra and harpist Richard Allen, one of the winners of the BBC N/ACNI Young Performers’ Platform Awards. 

The poems recited by Adrian Dunbar were 'On Devenish Island' and 'News from Home' from Frank Ormsby's 2015 Bloodaxe retrospective Goat’s Milk: New & Selected Poems. Frank was invited onto the stage afterwards to receive a bound copy of Graeme Stewart’s score (see photo above).  The piece takes its title from the poem ‘News from Home’, which also has a line referring to ‘Castle Coole’s Palladian reflection’.  A film featuring the stunningly beautiful landscape of County Fermanagh described in the two poems was screened during the peformance. Presenter Noel Thompson mentioned that Frank Ormsby's new collection The Darkness of Snow is forthcoming on 28 September 2017.


Proms in the Park – Co Fermanagh Highlights, BBC One Northern Ireland Television, Sunday 24 September 2017, 4.35pm

Highlights from the Castle Coole Prom were broadcast on BBC One Northern Ireland television on 24 September.  This included the whole of the Frank Ormsby tribute, preceded by the presenters’ introduction, in which they spoke about Frank Ormsby and the poems to be recited.  This was followed by Adrian Dunbar’s reading of the two poems, which has been set to music by Graeme Stewart. A photograph of Frank Ormsby was shown on the big screens, and a film of the stunning county Fermanagh landscape described in the poems was projected throughout the performance.

‘This year's extravaganza from Castle Coole, Co Fermanagh, features a stellar line-up including Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Adrian Dunbar, Ruthie Henshall and Anuna’

Programme available until 24 October 2017. Forward to 11.29 to see Frank Ormsby tribute (including introduction).
Click here to watch


The Last Night of the Proms from Around the UK, BBC Four Television, Sunday 17 September 2017, 7pm

Highlights from the BBC Proms in the Park events from around the UK.  This included the whole of the Frank Ormsby tribute piece.  Adrian Dunbar was interviewed, and then the whole of his recital of  the two poems by Frank Ormsby accompanied by Graeme Stewart’s specially commissioned piece A Lull Between Showers was shown.  Presenter Gethin Jones concluded with: ‘Adrian Dunbar reading the sublime poetry of Frank Ormsby, accompanied by the Ulster Orchestsra and guest harpist Richard Allen.’
Adrian Dunbar interview & reading of Frank Ormsby’s poems starts at 44.30.  Available until 17 October:
Click here to watch.

Proms in the Park, BBC Radio Ulster, Saturday 9 September 2017, 7.30-11pm

Live coverage on BBC Radio Ulster of the Castle Coole Proms in the Park.  A television highlights programme of the Northern Irish Prom was broadcast on BBC NI television on 24 September.

Frank Ormsby was interviewed on stage after the performance, and spoke about the importance of his County Fermanagh upbringing on his work:

‘I started writing poetry when I was about 11 years old.  I suppose one of the things that inspired me was the landscape… I don’t think I really appreciated it until I left and went to live in Belfast, so then I spent the rest of my life looking back on Fermanagh and writing poems about it.’

The first two sections of Frank Ormsby’s new collection of poems, The Darkness of Snow, include poems about rural Fermanagh and urban Belfast.  The book is published by Bloodaxe Books on 28 September, and will be launched at the Ulster Museum in Belfast on 28 September, where it will be introduced by the book’s dedicatee, Michael Longley.

BBC Radio Ulster broadcast live from BBC Proms in the Park at Castle Coole.  The Frank Ormsby tribute starts at 46.21.  'A Lull Between Showers' starts at 50.23.  It is followed by an interview with Frank Ormsby, and a tribute from the presenters and Adrian Dunbar. Click here to listen

The Proms performance of ‘A Lull Between Showers’ has been posted as a separate clip, where it is illustrated with a still photograph of Adrian Dunbar reading Frank Ormsby’s poems. Click here to listen.


The Arts Show, BBC Radio Ulster, Tuesday 5 September 2017, 6.30pm, first broadcast Thursday 23 April 2015, 6.30pm

The Arts Show repeated their thirty-minute special with Frank Ormsby on 5 September ahead of the BBC Proms Northern Ireland, at which his work was celebrated.  This touching and very funny interview was recorded in April 2015 at the time of publication of his retrospective Goat’s Milk: New & Selected Poems.  Frank read ‘Apples, Normandy, 1944’ and ‘My Criminal Record’ from Goat’s Milk

He also read and spoke about his poems about Parkinson’s Disease, which will be published in The Darkness of Snow on 28 September 2017.  He read his poem ‘Once a Day’ from that sequence, and mentioned ‘The Insulin Pen’ and ‘Side Effects (3)’.

‘Another chance to hear an Arts Show special in which Marie-Louise takes a walk around places of inspiration with Fermanagh-born poet Frank Ormsby, whose work will be celebrated in this year's BBC Proms at Castle Coole.’

Click here to listen. Available until 5 October 2017.

Poet Frank Ormsby on dealing with Parkinson's through humour.  Click here to listen to this short clip.



The Arts Show, BBC Two: Northern Ireland, Monday 3 April 2017

The Arts Show filmed Frank Ormsby reading his poem ‘The Waterworks Park’ in the Belfast wildlife park that the poem is about. This went out in April 2017  The poem is included in his forthcoming collection The Darkness of Snow.

Click here to watch. 

[25 September 2017]

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