Beyond The City – Co. Fermanagh


Archive film of rural Northern Ireland will be celebrated in a new performance by Phil Hession in the breathtaking Marble Arch Caves, featuring Rosie Stewart and Gabriel McArdle.

‘til they came unto a cave

Marble Arch Caves

15th-16th September

A new performance by Phil Hession, featuring Gabriel McArdle and Rosie Stewart, curated by Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell on behalf of Northern Ireland Screen Digital Film Archive and FilmHubNI for Beyond the City.

For countless thousands of years the Marble Arch Caves lay undisturbed in inky black, primeval darkness, while the cave river eroded and dissolved away millions of tonnes of limestone to carve and shape the majestic cave passages. Superstition and fear kept the caves free from visitors and absolute darkness prevailed until 1895 when two intrepid explorers disturbed the silence and natural order of the caves, and the first beam of light pierced the blackness, breaking the long sleep of the Marble Arch Caves.

Over a century later, you are invited to undertake a journey weaving together archive film and song in the depths of the Caves. Fermanagh singers Gabriel McArdle and Rosie Stewart will join Phil Hession each evening to perform a repertoire of traditional Irish song, in this spectacular subterranean world.
Phil describes the experience as “When I’m singing I aim to lose myself in a song, like other singers I close my eyes and hope to become absorbed by the story. When this happens, it can sometimes feel as if you exist in another world. In a sense, I feel something of this otherworldliness also exists in the Marble Arch Caves.”

The evening is set to combine traditional Irish music and footage from Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive (DFA) as part of the BFI’s Britain on Film Rural initiative. The project is a collaborative effort between the DFA, FilmHubNI, the British Film Institute and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

For further information contact:

Performers’ Biographies

Phil Hession, born in Omagh, is a visual artist working in performance art, sound and video. In his performances Hession sings traditional Irish songs accompanied by video projections of his own short films. His aim is to provide another layer of meaning with the films and their soundtracks rather than give a direct interpretation of the song lyrics. At times both film and song work in harmony and at others they are deliberately jarring providing a tension in the work. Since graduating with a BA in Fine Art from the University of Ulster in 2001 he has shown his artwork nationally and internationally, including: Belfast, Derry, Wales, the Netherlands, Croatia, Sweden, Poland,Taiwan and Canada.

Gabriel McArdle, a native of Co. Fermanagh in the North of Ireland, is a traditional singer and concertina player with a formidable reputation. His repertoire of songs comes mainly from the Ulster, and more specifically, the Fermanagh singing tradition. Today partly because of the work of musical envoys, such as Gabriel McArdle, the colourful range of traditional music composed in the County occupies a prominent place in the canon of traditional Irish music. For over two decades he has been performing on the folk circuit. In that time, as well as playing at Ireland’s major folk festivals, he has travelled to Britain, Germany, France and America with his music. McArdle can be seen playing music at home in Fermanagh and has recorded many times for Radio and Television.

Rosie Stewart, from Belcoo, County Fermanagh, is among the most distinguished of Irish traditional singers. Chosen as “Traditional Singer of the Year” for 2004 by the Irish Language Television Station, TG4, her distinctive voice and style, the dramatic intensity of her “big” song performances and the wicked pleasure she takes in comic ones, make her one of the most sought after singers in Ireland. She has performed throughout Ireland, on radio and television, and in Britain and North America. She has been singing for as long as she can remember and attributes her love of songs to her late father, the singer Packie McKeaney, a major influence and a great encouragement in her career. Stewart is noted for her artistry, her forceful, direct manner and purity of voice and style.

Northern Ireland Screen Digital Film Archive contains over 100 hours of moving images about Northern Ireland and the North of Ireland from as far back as 1897. The material shown on during this event will include footage from the archive digitised as part of Britain on Film, supported by Unlocking Film Heritage awarding funds from the National Lottery. Enjoy more archive for free online at and


Should I book in advance?
We highly recommend you book in advance, as the audience for this performance is limited to a total of 30 people a night. If you have booked and can no longer attend this event please contact –

What should I wear?
This performance will take place in the underground caves. It can get cold during the performance and the caves can be damp. Sensible shoes are recommended along with warm clothes and a waterproof jacket should be worn underground.

Can I take photographs?
No filming or photography is permitted during the performance. The event will be documented and available to watch for free on the Northern Ireland Screen Digital Film Archive in 2017.

To exit the Showcave visitors are required to climb over 150 steps; therefore the attraction is not accessible for wheelchairs or prams/pushchair. A moderate level of fitness is required to take part in the showcave tour. Free parking will be available on site.

Any questions about accessibility or clothing contact Marble Arch Caves Geo Global Park.
Tel. NI / UK:
028 6634 8855 Tel. ROI:
048 6634 8855