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Ancient Connections and a contemporary collaboration

Ancient Connections, a €2.4m. arts, heritage and tourism project linking Pembrokeshire and Wexford, Ireland, has been delayed by Covid-19. However, the project team has been far from idle, says Project Manager Rowan Matthiessen

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Activity was supposed to commence in May 2020 with a programme of community workshops, archaeological excavations, art projects and public events designed to engage the community and tourists in the history and stories that connect these two fascinating regions.

However, we have continued working and have commissioned a number of pieces from artists relating to the historic stories the project has unearthed, as well as on themes of pilgrimage and journeying, sacred places, ancestral heritage and a longing for home.

We have appointed two Artists in Residence; in Pembrokeshire, Fern Thomas will create a radio station broadcast from a fictional island in the Irish Sea called Ynys: ‘A shared place for culture, history, dreams, poetry and song from all time to live alongside each other’. In Wexford, David Begley, a multimedia artist, invites us to ‘Wonder this: before St Aidan arrived and The Normans later, what drew the ancients to Ferns in the first place? Who laid the first seed? What made the first tribe put down roots?’

We have also commissioned smaller works from 4 other artists, Linda Norris, Sean Vicary, John Sutherland and Sylvia Cullen, in response to the project. In addition, we have shortlisted five artists to compete for the opportunity of creating two new large-scale pieces of public art in St Davids and Ferns worth €175,000.

We are supporting a number of community projects in both regions including a storytelling festival at Theatr Gwaun in Fishguard, development of a story/arts trail based on Jackie Morris’ Lost Words book in St Davids and a community rock-opera based on the lives of St Aidan and St David but set in the future.

Watch out for plenty more in 2021 beginning in May with a Creative Camino where artists and community pilgrims will journey from Ferns to St Davids, creating pieces and giving performances along the way.

The project is led by Pembrokeshire County Council with partners Wexford County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Visit Wexford. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Co-operation Programme.

Our website will be live very soon and you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter:


Facebook: @AncientConnect;

Twitter: @AncientConnect1;

E-mail: ancientconnections@pembrokeshire.gov.uk