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Belfast Book Festival: Words and music prove an irresistible mix

The Belfast Book Festival launched itself with an evening of music and words that literally happened between the jigs and the reels.

Compered by a dapper Glenn Patterson, the evening began with Ciaran and Deirdre Carson on flute and violin.

Opening with the folk tune that refers to the Heaney Centre's signature symbol of the blackbird, it was pleasantly like tuning into an old radio programme. The effect was then brutally shattered by the broken cartography of Carson's signature poem Belfast Confetti with its imagery of linguistic violence.

Medbh McGuckian attempted to place our history within a wider European context, but the revelation of the night proved to be Padraigin Ni Uallachain, whose unaccompanied songs based around texts of ancient Irish poetry from the 9-12th centuries, translated by Ciaran Carson and Heaney, provided the evening's most spine-tingling moments.

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