BBC Radio Ulster Star Hugo Duncan Joins The Bill At Sailortown’s The Gathering Festival

BBC Radio Ulster presenter Hugo Duncan with Sailortown Regeneration project manager Terry McKeown outside St Joseph's Church in Sailortonw where he will be performing as part of the Sailortown Regeneration The Gathering Festival on Friday 10th June. Photo: Tina Calder / Excalibur Press

Radio Ulster’s very own ‘Uncle Hugo’ Hugo Duncan will be taking to the stage to lead the Dockers Club Dance Off at the Dockers Club, Belfast on Friday 10th June from 4-6pm.

The dance-off is one of several events throughout The Gathering Festival, a four-day festival running from Thursday 9th – Sunday 12th June filled with celebration and displaying of the history and culture of the Sailortown area.

The Gathering Festival serves as a celebration of 150 years of history and heritage at St. Joseph’s Parish.  Organised by Sailortown Regeneration, the festival is a recognition of the progress made in the regeneration of the maritown village.

Come with dancing shoes in hand as the Dance Off is set to include music from Country Harmony.

With nothing ruled out when it comes to Hugo Duncan, music for all ages is guaranteed as attendees are encouraged to perform their party piece.

“When I’m about you can expect anything”, said Hugo. 

“I’m excited to be over in the Dockers to play music that suits all tastes. We’ll be giving people a waltz around, a mooch around and then a bit of jiving to bring out the rock ‘n’ roll.  The main thing is to get everyone smiling and enjoying it, it’s going to be a great evening of entertainment.

“I’ve heard about St. Joseph’s so often. It’s such a beautiful place that’s rich in history. I know there’s a lot of work to be done yet, but just walking through the doors you get a feeling of being transported back in time. I remember hearing about the closure all those years ago and about people getting angry. And you can see why: St. Joseph’s is a part of Sailortown. The church is always the heart of everywhere and when you lose the heart it’s very difficult to keep the soul going.

“It’s really great to see Terry and her team, and everyone involved, getting it back to what it was: a place of community.”

Terry McKeown, Project Manager of Sailortown Regeneration, has been involved with the project for the previous eight years, holding the belief that the restoration of the church will create a safe space for the local community to rejoin together once again.

She explained: “The church lay almost derelict for a number of years and we’ve now got to the stage that we can open it as a community space for local people, but also as a happening place with activities in it. The Gathering is an opportunity for everybody from Sailortown, particularly the ex residents, to come down and help us celebrate bringing Sailortown back to life with a whole range of events.”

Hailing from a small town in Strabane Hugo has committed much of his time into working closely with tight knit communities across the country, recognising the importance of people in bringing communities back together once again.

“There’s so much of this happening around the country and sometimes the people who are doing it don’t get the gratitude and the return that they should get” he said, adding: “Every community needs someone working for them. The community can’t go on itself, because if it goes on and on with no one working for them, or in advocate of them and the area, it dies out. It closes down. Never let a place die because there’s so much history and heritage there. And that’s what’s special about this festival, about Sailortown. The willingness and commitment to restoring it.

As a ticketed event, be sure to grab some of the last remaining tickets for the Dance Off available at £5 per person or you can pay at the door.

Hugo added: “Get your tickets and come out for a bit of craic and enjoy yourself. For a couple of hours on a Friday afternoon, close the door behind you and look in front of you”.

Other headline events include an evening with Brian Kennedy, and a Crazy Bingo and DJ set from U105 presenter Johnny Hero.

St Joseph’s will function as a venue for a multitude of events held throughout the duration of the festival, whilst other events are set to take place in locations within the Sailortown area. 

The Gathering will be a celebration of the community’s past, whilst also promising an exciting future for the urban village. 

Tickets are £5 and available from www.maritime-mile.com. To learn more about Sailortown Regeneration, visit www.sailortown regeneration.com.