Field Notes

Photo by Brett Lohmeyer

By Kerri Breen

New wave

When the Irish first emigrated to Newfoundland, A.K.A talamh an éisc, land of the fish, they brought the fast, sometimes aggressive sport of hurling with them. There’s even an Irish song from the 1600s that praises the hurlers of Newfoundland.

The field sport, which is similar to hockey, baseball, and lacrosse, has ancient Celtic origins. Though it still flourishes in Ireland, its presence in the province has been lost over time.

Brendan Toland, who has just moved to St. John’s from Ireland, is trying to kick-start a second wave of Newfoundland hurling.
“I’ve been talking about it to people, and they’re listening and they’re responding,” he says. “I’m a little bit taken aback. I’m asking myself, why are people so interested?”

So far, he says, they have the numbers for two teams. They’re in the process of ordering equipment, getting some informal training, and looking for sponsorship.

The goal is to set up two teams with recognisable identities and a local hurling association.

Women play a similar game called camogie, and Toland says if the interest is there, he’d like to see that sport re-established here too.
Truth be told, Toland says he isn’t even that great of a hurler, and Donegal, where he’s from, is not a hurling county.

The first game is set for September. For more details, e-mail Toland at

Tale spin

Things get a little tangly in Storybook Central (where all out favourite classic characters are from) when professor Macaroni’s wife spills stew on the book of Tales and Rhymes, causing everything to get slopped together.

This is the set up for writer-director Krista Hann’s Fairytale Mix-up, a children’s play being shown as part of this summer’s Shakespeare by the Sea line-up.

“All the characters get mixed up with each other, the stories get muddled and, to top it all off, Professor Macaroni loses his smarts,” Hann says. “Only the audience can help put this mixarooni back to right.”

Presenting a kids’ show is a first for the festival, which is in its 17th year.

“The audiences so far have absolutely loved it,” Hann says.

Hann came up with the idea while teaching at a kids’ enrichment centre.

“I wanted to use familar character to teach the kids about fairytales and nursery rhymes and when I got into it the ideas just started flowing.

The show boasts family-friendly humour, but parents won’t be bored during the performance, Hann says.
“There are a few jokes in there especially for adults.”

The show features Ryan Walsh, Sarah Dawn MacAuley, and Anthony Fushell, with stage management by Caroline Hillier and runs Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm in the Bowering Park Amphitheatre, weather permitting.

All ages, no venues

Once thriving, the all-ages punk and hardcore music scene is now, again, almost homeless.

Two important venues have told promoters they are no longer willing to host all ages shows for now.

The all-ages scene has not had a stable venue situation for years. In the early 2000s, the Riverdale Tennis Club was popular. Later it was the Brother O’Hehir Arena and the St. Andrew’s Church Hall.

Although those venues eventually refused to house the shows because of noise, underage drinking and vandalism (and other things neighbours don’t tend to like) that doesn’t seem to be the only case anymore.

Andrew Fisher, co-owner of one of those venues (the Old Bookshop in CBS) says that they had to stop doing shows because his schedule and that of his business partner could no longer accommodate it.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to pull the plug at a time when all ages promoters are having such a hard time finding venues, but, what little consolation it may be, the people we have worked with in the past can all rest assured that if things settle down for us a little in the fall and winter, and we decide to have some shows here again, they’ll be welcomed back no problem,” Fisher says.

The lack of venues isn’t the only problem—the audience has shrunk considerably and organizing shows has become more precarious because of it.

Promoter and musician Michael Phillips said a few years ago he felt comfortable backing shows with much higher overhead costs than he allows now because attendance was so much higher.

“The all-ages scene has been a funny creature in the last few years,” Phillips says, adding that the lack of success of some of these all ages shows has to do with the lack of promotion, not always a lack of interest.

“Maybe we’re at a point where all ages shows can’t happen all of the time. A lot of scenes don’t have all-ages shows every week.”

New gallery

Peter Lewis’ gigantic, playful Newfoundland impression-scapes have a new haunt.

His eponymous gallery, located on Church Hill, opened with a launch party on July 29. The inaugural exhibition will show 25 new oil paintings.

“This year I’ve been working full time at being an artist and I’ve produced a fair number of paintings…I guess my wife owning a building downtown kind of helped me make that decision.”

Owning a gallery won’t take him away from his painting, however, which is done outdoors.

“My job will just be to paint,” Lewis says.

The gallery operates Tuesday to Sunday 11:00 am to 5:30 pm. Call 709-722-6009 for more details.