‘Taking The Wheel’ An Interview with Laura Quirke and Joshua Burnside

Photo by Rita Perry

After a special performance together in 2020, two of Ireland’s best folk singers have joined forces to create a narrative driven and emotionally vulnerable EP. NI Music Prize winner Joshua Burnside and Lemoncello’s Laura Quirke sat down for a virtual chat with Sam from The Jumble, discussing their beginnings, working through 2020, and all you need to know about their upcoming EP ‘In The Half-Light’.

Hi Josh, Hi Laura! Let’s get started with an introduction, can you tell us a bit about yourselves and how you came together? 

Laura: Well, I’m from Carlow- and musically, so far, I’ve been working as part of the duo Lemoncello with Claire Kinsella. We’re in the middle of recording our first album, but since the pandemic I’ve been writing a lot more, and I’ve started a solo project. I want to collaborate and experiment, and just make things musically in another context. Josh and I met at the Other Voices festival, we were put into the same house and had lots of nice sessions. I was a fan of Josh’s music and we kept running into each other, giving us opportunities to work together. We were invited (separately) to do a livestream performance at the Duncarin and we happened to be going up on the same day to record, we ended up being asked if we would have anything we could perform together. I had just finished writing ‘Taking the Wheel’ as a duet, but I hadn’t really thought about who would take up the other part at that point, it felt like an abundance of synchronicity that there was an opportunity to duet right there. I sent Josh the track, performed it at the livestream, and ended up putting together the ‘In the Half-Light EP’ at the end of it all. 

Josh: After hearing Laura sing a few of her songs years ago I was super impressed, I always knew I wanted to work with her in the future. The pandemic presented an opportunity to collaborate with new people and try new things,and the fact that it ended up with this EP is fantastic. 

The EP was recorded in the midst of a slight ease in restrictions back in 2020. How have you found navigating the music world and recording throughout the COVID crisis? Do you think this EP would be different if it wasn’t made in 2020? 

Laura: As a track ‘Taking the Wheel’ was very much inspired by feelings and musings that came out of the pandemic. I was concentrated on the details of a conversation and the unsaid between two people, and that’s a result of spending so much time around the same few people in the same context. When you’re in that position things become exaggerated, you notice more than you would when you’re constantly on the go. As well as that, the EP pretty much happened by accident- that’s a result of having the extra time, which we wouldn’t have had if 2020 wasn’t the year it was. We had nowhere else to be and it was a very fertile space for creativity. It’s fair to say that the EP may not have happened at all under different conditions.

Josh: When there’s nothing else to do we are just more likely to spend time playing about with instruments and making music, so I agree that 2020 gave us the exact environment we needed to make ‘In the Half-Light’, the environment was also very unique- even though we constantly stuck to the rules it always felt a bit sneaky, it was bizarre. On top of that, there were a lot of moments when we couldn’t actually meet, I think that influenced the EP to have a more experimental direction. At the end of the track ‘Far Away the Hills are Green’ all the layering of the vocals, talking, and the madness that goes on may not have happened in a ‘normal’ studio session. Likewise the end of ‘In the Half-Light’ is a result of me mucking around with reverbs and delays for ages, if Laura was with me in the studio that would have been very boring for her. 

‘Taking the Wheel’ sounds fantastic- and lyrically, it’s so narrative driven. The story of these two characters- Sarah and David, driving through the rain, trying to work out their feelings. Can you explain a bit of the musical inspiration for this track? 

Laura: I was listening to loads of John Prine, he’d just passed away around the time I was writing. I didn’t even realise how much his music inspired me while I was writing, but retrospectively I hear it. I can say the same about the show ‘Normal People’, it deals with a lot of the same theme of unsaid things between two people. Other than that it’s just a mess of everything I have listened to before. 

Josh: The first time Laura sent me the demo of the song it reminded me of the soft sadness of an early Sufjan Stevens track, so I pinned that as a production reference for me. We also both wanted the broken radio sounds and the almost grungey feel of the chorus. It was pretty fortunate that the studio we were working in (Vault Artist Studios) had people rehearsing nearby, and we were able to pick some of that chatter and background noise up- you can hear it at the beginning of the song. 

Although it’s a tricky question with the unsure nature of everything as we ease back out of lock down life, can you tell us what’s coming up for you both in the future? 

Josh: It’s a bit of a mixed bag, we were hoping to organise a launch for the EP- depending on restrictions and rules. There’s also potentially a performance at Stendhal festival in August, but it is still a bit up in the air. It’s hard to plan things at the minute, and over the past…. Fifteen months?! I’ve learnt not to get my hopes up too much and go with the flow. 

What’s the one thing you’re most excited for when things go back to ‘normal’? 

Laura: I cannot wait to go to gigs. I can’t wait to see all the lovely people who aren’t in my bubble, I want to be able to go out and meander in and out of crowds and talk to people in the music scene, there are so many fantastic Irish musicians and I am so excited to see what they have created over the past fifteen months.

Josh: Before the pandemic I ran a folk night at The American Bar, I can’t wait to get that up and running again. I’m looking forward to pub lock ins and long sessions, just getting back into the swing of things.

The ‘In The Half-Light’ EP is out on July 16th.

Listen to ‘Taking The Wheel’ on The Jumble Magazine Local Music Playlist.

Interview by Sam Dineen

Fountain (ten of cups)

By Zoe Brönte Faulkner

I’d say it must be something in the water 
but we are too far away now 
to feel the ocean’s pull. We stand on cigarette  butts 
instead of sand, I have nightmares of the rats  in the
alley crawling inside. I miss the tide. I grow pale 
and parched, it’s symptomatic. In the evenings I 
shower as if waiting for the water  
to absorb and fill me up like a sponge. It never does.
I have faucet eyes. Now that our drains are blocked
I worry I might flood our red-doored vessel. When
pennies appear on my bedroom floor 
I insist I must be dreaming it, our house certainly
 isn’t made of marble and nobody is wishing on it. 

Music with a Purpose: An Evening of Audio Visual Listening with MINDS

Adam Magill photographed by Alice Austin

Tomorrow evening (Saturday the 29th of May) NI collective MINDS is hosting an online audio visual listening party with 100% of profits going to PIPS Hope & Support. The event will present 22 tracks along with unique visuals hosted on Bandcamp. The audience will be able to vote for their top four tracks of the night, and those winning tracks will be pressed to vinyl, the rest will be released digitally and 100% of profits will be donated.  All artist names will remain anonymous during the listening event and until results have been announced. Sam from The Jumble spoke to Adam Magill from MINDS about the event.

Let’s get started with an introduction, can you explain a little bit about MINDS and what they do?

 MINDS was initially intended as a one-off fundraiser for PIPS Hope & Support, getting as many local artists under one roof for one day to raise money and awareness all while having fun and celebrating the wealth of talent in the city. The event was a far bigger success than we could have imagined, so we decided to make it an annual thing, trying to build on the collaborative effort of artists for a good cause. We appreciate that we may not be in the best position to support individuals suffering with their mental health but having been through my own struggles as have so many of my friends and family, if we can raise money for those who are best suited to help, it is a step in the right direction in combating a pandemic that has been affecting this country long before Covid.

As concerts and in person events have disappeared over the past year MINDS have sadly had to adjust to less opportunities when it comes to fundraising, how did you come up with the idea of MINDS21 as a Virtual Listening Party?

 Collaboration has been pivotal to MINDS from day one, and we felt that by hosting a virtual listening party, we could engage more creatives than had we just hosted a DJ livestream or something along those lines. By hosting a virtual event, we were able to get the help of Jane Catterson, a graphic designer from Belfast but based in Manchester who came up with this year’s aesthetic and designed the accompanying merchandise. Eoin Robinson, a videographer and theatre maker from Portadown, who has been outstanding throughout this project, and who I can’t thank enough for the work he has done in creating hours of unique visuals, not only for the listening party itself but for our event with Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts Festival, and all our promotional material. This was the first time we had the opportunity to work with Eoin, and that has been another joy of this project – discovering and working with new creatives so incredibly passionate about their craft. We also worked with Matt Megaw at Printroom, who is offering artists another revenue stream in these difficult times by linking his background in music and art, handling all our merchandise needs, from screenprinting to online orders.  Not to forget, obviously, all the incredible artists and ST Mastering who have provided some of the most outstanding music for what really is a special release (if I’m allowed to say so). Never before had we really referred to ourselves as a collective, but the way in which everyone has come together for this project, devoting their time and effort for such a good cause, I felt it was the only fitting description of what MINDS has become this year, and for that I can’t thank everyone enough.

The event is also a fantastic opportunity for the artists involved, and participants will have the unique experience of voting for their 4 favourite tracks to be made into a record that will be pressed on vinyl.  What inspired you to come up with this kind of interactive event?

 I might be starting to sound like a broken record (excuse the pun), but what would be the point of a collaborative effort if we could not somehow engage the audience for, who after all, the music was intended. I wanted to somehow think of a way that we could engage the audience, so when the vinyl comes around, there is a degree of ownership that is not always there in music. In a modern, social media driven society, where digital music has become far too throwaway, it is easy to become lost and disconnected as a music fan, so to involve the audience in the process, and those who are ultimately supporting our message and end goal of supporting local charity, that was crucial. Friends are what made MINDS a reality, and it is important that we look out for them in what way we can. We lost one this year in James, and it is for that reason, as little a token it may be to how wonderful a guy he was, MINDS21 is devoted to you, mate.

Other than tomorrow nights event, how can people get involved to support the work you do as MINDS?

Look out for your mates first and foremost. By doing that you have done what we set out to do with MINDS in encouraging people to be open about what is going on inside and being there for one another when it matters most. Support local mental health charities. PIPS Hope & Support is who we have supported as a result of a personal connection, but there are so many amazing charities and individuals doing phenomenal work that are simply not getting the attention and much needed public funding they deserve. Get behind the artists, the creatives, and everyone who has made this possible. We have such a wealth of creative talent in this country, and by supporting those on our doorstep it will prevent further creative drain becoming all too common, with artists seeking greener pastures elsewhere. And for the bit I hate, self-promotion, if you want to support MINDS this year there is our virtual listening party this Saturday. All tracks from the night will soon be available digitally, and the 4 audience chosen tracks, going to vinyl, with all profits going to PIPS. We will also have a cracking t-shirt and hoodie designed by Jane Catterson and printed by Matt at Printroom, again contributing to the release and all profits going to PIPS. We have a few ideas in mind for where we would love to take MINDS, and how we can continue to raise money for those charities that mean so much to us, all while celebrating those around us, so to anyone who reads this, we would love to have you on board!  

Text Interview by Sam Dineen

Check out more about the event here, and purchase tickets for £8 by clicking here.

Learn more about the work of PIPS on their website.

Poetry (but not as you know it): Piotrowski & Meehan.

Skin of an Orange.

Niamh Seana Meehan and Michal Kamil Piotrowski are a visual artist and poet duo that crosses the Irish sea. Niamh is based here in NI, whilst Michal is living and working in London. Together, the two of them work to create unique visual poetry online, often creating pieces that are interactive. 

Michał Kamil Piotrowski writes experimental, visual, and technology-powered poetry. He enjoys making poetry interactive and mostly works with found text. The themes he explores the most are  technology, politics, love, and mental illnesses. His interactive book The Cursory Remix has  been co-written by Google Translate and is available to read on issuu.com with a print version forthcoming from Contraband Books. 

Niamh Seana Meehan works in-between visual art, performance, audio and written matter based on the slippages involved within the translation of thought to text. Her practice investigates the un-knowability of language, its  messiness and how it has the potential to become visual, performative and movable.  Research themes include emptiness, silence, ambiguity and doubt.  

Drawing a BLANK

The duo met last year through an online event/discussion with artBLAB, a platform for online art lectures that Michal runs with curator and art historian Marta Grabowska. Piotrowski & Meehan are currently working on creating workshops based on their collaboration with the intention of delivering the workshops to schools, as a means of encouraging young people to try out experimental poetry and the translation of text to the performative. The duo meet online weekly and set experimental based tasks, they are very much looking forward to being able to meet in person when it is safe to do so.

Sleep Breath

Check out more of Piotrowski & Meehan’s work by viewing their portfolio.

Read ‘The Cursory Remix’ here.

Find out more about artBLAB on their website.

Travel Writer

Photo by Sam Dineen

Flash Fiction By Sam Dineen

A neon orange cigarette and a soft beeping signified the years of airline travel gone by, the law had prohibited smoking on planes over a decade ago, but the light still blinked to let you know, no matter what, you couldn’t light one up. 

Shuffling, I pull at the rigid belt around my stomach, pressing my temple up to the thick glass window and letting the vibrations of the mechanics shake the brain inside my skull. Below, the clouds look as if they may soon part, revealing miles and miles of unending sea. 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we hope you are enjoying your flight …. We are currently travelling at 41,000 feet and there are blue skies ahead”

Looking 41,000 feet below the sea was a mirror image of the sky, blue and hazy, stretching as far as my eye could see. Something about the lack of all other kinds of object set me off, and my heart rate raised as I felt my eyes dart around in my head like a swarm of bees, desperate in search of a coast, or even a boat. Eventually one rolled by- a tiny white rectangle with lights and sails, I’m sure, but to me it was un-detailed and abstract. Thinking about it, the people on that boat probably have a similar sense of dread- of being the only thing in sight, floating around alone in their conquest to be elsewhere. I thought about the things I had read about the world way back in its early days, before the plates started moving apart, how it at one point, was all one big chunk of land. I thought about it until my head hurt, indecisive of whether or not that would be better or worse for travel. I thought about it until the little boat rolled off further into the sea, beyond the section of it I could spy from this window. I pictured the people on board pointing up at me and sighing with relief as I fly overhead, a reminder that they are not the only things left in the world, their collective heart rate slowing down to a steady, reassuring hum. 

That’s the thing about flying, it’s so lonely. You have the kids crying and the drunk men shouting, maybe even a snoring seating partner if you’re unlucky enough- but everyone on board is everyone there is for a few hours. Once the preparation for landing begins the loneliness disappears, replaced with cliff edges, mountain tops, beaches, toy cars buzzing down motorways, patches of turquoise blue if you’re travelling somewhere hot enough to tolerate outdoor swimming. And all those things mean people. Likely to be people you’ve never met and may never meet, who are busy with their own hikes and sunbathing, driving, swimming, living, and by the slightest chance they may look up and see you fly by with a puff of white behind your tail, and they may wonder if you’ve come from some place remarkable. 

The people on the boat won’t see the coast for a while, and when they do it will be less out of the blue and “Oh, here we are!” and more slow and steady, watching the skyline un-blur into focus in the distance. They see more detail at the end of it all, their ship enclosing into the docks as the neon lights or thatched cottages of whatever place they’ve arrived at get closer, maybe they see carnivals, or dogs on leashes, loved ones waving hello- or, like us up above, maybe even perfect strangers by the shore.  All those kinds of things make those last ten minutes on board longer, the awkward toe tapping wait to get off, to be let loose somewhere new and work out the nooks and crannies of the ground your feet have landed on. 

I walk through the airport, my suitcase rolling behind me, sounding like hard beating rain. People ran to each other, men in suits stood with signs written in Spanish, French, German- all ending in the names of whoever they have been employed to pick up. Kids ran around the cafes and stores, parents waving fingers at them and telling them off in a language I could not comprehend. Slipping through the rotating door and into the world outside, I felt the hot air on my face and took a deep breath, gazed around at all the people I had never met, and prepared myself to get lost in it.

The Introspective Edit: Edie-Mea McCartney and H.R. Gibs.

Edie-Mea McCartney and H.R. Gibs

The past year and everything that has come with it has proven itself to be a major adjustment to people from all walks of life, including the creatives that make up the local scene.  Those in the arts, as well as small business owners, have missed gigs, exhibitions, markets, readings, and performances- but they have often proven incredibly resilient and taken this difficult situation as a challenge, finding new and creative ways to keep their art going. 

The extra time a lot of us were suddenly given back in March 2020 has even resulted in new creative projects and businesses popping up- giving hope for a local creative scene more alive than ever as the world starts to make its slow paced return to some kind of normality. The Jumble Magazine has asked local creatives throughout NI/Ireland about their experiences over the past year, and how the change in pace, routine, accessibility, social life, and resources has affected how they do what they do. Over the past few days The Jumble has been platforming the voices of local creatives to share their own experiences.

Edie-Mea McCartney

Edie-Mea McCartney (Theartistedie) is an Artist, Illustrator, and small business owner based in Northern Ireland.  Edies work often focuses on showcasing the realities of living with diabetes. Edie created the  Zine ‘Sex & Diabetes’ alone, and also created a range of badges in collaboration with diabetes focused accessories brand Organising Chaos. Edie has  also collaborated with Sustainable Streetwear brand Kosu Appreal and finished a degree during 2020. Edie spoke to The Jumble Magazine about the past year and getting through it as an artist. 

This past year for me personally has truly had its ups and downs, without it I wouldn’t have realised just how much my art is persuaded by the outside world and people. I love to people watch when I’m in a busy place, so going from being a busy uni student in a bustling city to living in a small quiet town in the blink of an eye was a huge change for me. I’ve met so many amazing creatives and beautiful people through lock down via Instagram. My practice has been thoroughly influenced by this and how we perceive and view art. I’ve slightly shifted my perspective and started making work that is more commercial and that anyone can enjoy, making sure I love it myself is key.I love bright colours and bold lines, lock down has allowed me to refine my skills and take inspiration from new sources like Instagram, my own home and mundane things. I’ve been doing a lot of reading latley, develing into topics like. witch craft, mental health and Northern Ireland in my book choices, which has also shown itself in my work.  

Walking has also played a part in recharging my creativity, myself and my partner recently climbed Slieve Binnian and it was amazing. It really gave me the confidence as someone with chronic pain to start pushing myself and trusting myself more. It felt magical. I’ve been stepping outside my comfort zone more and trying new things, I started print making and hope to add prints and other reacting items to my online shop. All in all this past year I’ve kept myself busy and continued to work on myself and mental health to make sure that I can give my art the attention it needs. Finishing an art degree in lock down didn’t feel like the best accomplishment in the world, and im sure others can relate, I was left feeling unsuccessful and useless because the world was at a standstill, but after exploring my practice, speaking to other creatives and being open about everything I was thinking  I was able to push through and create more and more. 

Long distance friends and family members have started reaching out to me to  make special gifts and portraits, I’ve loved every minute of doing that. Overall, the year has been pretty positive, despite all the horrific things going on globally and my own personal struggles. 

H.R. Gibs

H. R. Gibs is a writer and Journalist currently based in Belfast. Throughout the course of the pandemic, Gibs found herself moving between the lock down at home and in Dublin, where she began studying her Masters Degree. Gibs has written for publications like Golden Plec, Chordblossom, and The Thin Air while simultaneously being involved with the running of the Belfast based co-operative Soup Ink. Gibs has also showcased her short story ‘Eric Bob’ right here on The Jumble Magazine. Her vast experience and talent in both fiction and non fiction writing makes her a perfect voice to finish off Introspective Edit, enjoy her thoughts on creativity and writing during a world shifting year:

I rarely sit and ponder on how chronological events affect my writing. I work in a spiral; I write, it pours, I think it’s worth something, I go back, it’s not. During the pandemic, out of job and waiting for a new course to begin, this spiral wound itself tightly. Between March and September 2020, I wrote something close to 40 feature articles and essays. I had the time. I was consuming films and albums and books with mechanical and capitalist intention. Digest, make thoughts, make words.

In September I moved to Dublin. In October I started my MA. It was like waking up to find yourself falling through mid-air. Writing had eased into my life like a subconscious thought. I did it often, so I had to be good at it. I was naive enough to think this thought would hold fast in a competitive environment. Journalism is a very different sport to creative writing. I found the extreme focus on philosophical truth telling against the now, now, now of breaking news jarring. 

Outside of class, I was lonely. Dublin had plunged into a new lock down the fortnight after I’d moved. I was in a new place. I knew no-one. I studied. existed online. Writing for writing’s sake went out the window. I forced out bad poems and short painful stories that hung on nothing. I was suddenly very aware of how I wrote. I held it up against the light and found it to be full of holes. 

In reality I was probably just getting better at it. I don’t think I paid much attention to the precise cause and effect of the pandemic. I was analysing the news every day in class. I was numb to the death tolls and the travel restrictions. I became small and cynical during those months and so my memories of that time are the same. 

Before I’d moved I had emailed my favourite English lecturer to ask for help with writing poetry. I knew I needed feedback. I could never get a handle on what I wanted to say. I was too distracted by everyone else also writing and pulling images that I thought I should have been the one to come up with. My worst flaw is my jealousy. I am jealous of everything beautiful. 

She emailed back advising to find a group of people to work alongside and learn from. I took her word as gospel. I wanted then, as I want now, to be good at writing. I reached out to people I knew and those I didn’t yet and took up a habit of talking to them about all of it. I let people in on my ideas. I let them perform autopsies on my weakest works. It was like swallowing bullets. I read their work. We talked about stories and being from here and language and I realised, with sour delight, that in that place I was almost always the least interesting person in the room. 

But how has my writing changed during the pandemic? I don’t think in all that time I wrote a single piece about quarantine or sickness or having time. Other people were doing that much better than I ever could and I was distracted by smaller feats. Perhaps the better question to ask is how have I changed during the pandemic? I have learned to organise and unionise. In June 2020 the ground turned to fire and what I believed in changed. My vocabulary absorbed new definitions for old ideas; class consciousness, abolition, direct action, direct provision, solidarity, solidarity, solidarity forever. 

But more, more. I fell in love without noticing it, like I’d slipped into water. I stopped shying away from phone calls. I started to care more about asking the questions than knowing the answers. I had conversations. I learned to listen better. 

Outwardly I don’t know what my writing looks like compared to a year ago. I find it embarrassing to look back on, but, if I am being honest, I don’t think it will look much different. I think I might be less interested in myself and my own opinion now. I now know that I’m really not that much different from everyone else. I want to be understood and seen and paid attention to. So, upon reflection, what might be the most notable and altogether impressive thing about my writing is that I’m still doing it.

Check out Edie-Mea McCartney’s work on Instagram.

Keep up to date with H. R. Gibs words over on Twitter, and check out Soup Ink.

The Introspective Edit : Gary Duffy and STRANGER DAIS.

Gary Duffy (Photograph by Stephen Edgar) and Megan, Jack, and Shane from STRANGER DAIS

The past year and everything that has come with it has proven itself to be a major adjustment to people from all walks of life, including the creatives that make up the local scene.  Those in the arts, as well as small business owners, have missed gigs, exhibitions, markets, readings, and performances- but they have often proven incredibly resilient and taken this difficult situation as a challenge, finding new and creative ways to keep their art going. 

The extra time a lot of us were suddenly given back in March 2020 has even resulted in new creative projects and businesses popping up- giving hope for a local creative scene more alive than ever as the world starts to make its slow paced return to some kind of normality. The Jumble Magazine has asked local creatives throughout NI/Ireland about their experiences over the past year, and how the change in pace, routine, accessibility, social life, and resources has affected how they do what they do. Over the next few days The Jumble will be platforming the voices of local creatives to share their own experiences.

‘Going Nowhere’ Music Video

Gary Duffy

Belfast based Pop Artist Gary Duffy has found his success throughout these unusual times, debuting with the single ‘Did You Ever Really Love Me?’ this time last year, when the lock downs were still a reasonably new concept. Since then he has released an album, two music videos, and achieved regular radio play and interviews, he has also signed a management deal with football legend Gerry Armstrong’s X Pro Management. Gary spoke to The Jumble about the challenges he has faced over the past year and what the experience has taught him about the music business. 

“As a musician I know first hand how badly the arts have been affected this past year.  From March 2020 until now I’ve sang in front of a very limited live audience once, which is devastating when its your dream. Performing is a very important part of my life and when it’s taken away from me it’s very difficult. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to record my own music in the studio but that does not come without its challenges, the restrictions have meant that it has not been easy. Shooting music videos was something I have always been looking forward to, and I always imagined it being such a fun experience, however successfully translating the vision I have in my head to film has also proven very difficult when working around the restrictions. There is such a huge amount of work that goes into making music that you’ll only ever see behind the scenes. Normally when you release a single or an album you would have the opportunity to showcase it in a performance, it has been incredibly frustrating that I haven’t had those opportunities, but I have vowed not to let it get me down. The mundane nature of the lock downs and staying at home has meant that the experiences that inspire my writing the most haven’t been possible, so finding the will to write can sometimes be that extra bit more challenging. There have been times when I have felt stifled but I have managed to motivate myself to keep going and work through it. As a community we have to stick together, support each other, and remind ourselves why we are in the arts and music to begin with, throughout all of these challenges I have proven to myself that my love for music will not die.” 


STRANGER DAIS is an online Zine that first popped up in the summer of 2020, the zine is currently on its fifth edition and is showcasing artists from all walks of life. The name is inspired by the current state of the world : a group of strangers, living through a very weird time, working to give each other a platform to celebrate what makes us, us.” The hard work of Megan, Jack, and Shane has created an online space for artists who may have struggled throughout the past year. Megan spoke to The Jumble about the growth of the zine, ‘pandemic press’  and creating a platform in a world of lock downs and restrictions. 

“STRANGER DAIS gave the three of us a creative outlet at a time when we really, really needed one.

Having established an independent publication during lock down, ‘pandemic press’ is all we’ve known thus far. What we thought would be a fun-yet-stressful pastime for ourselves turned out to be so much more than that – it gave us a huge dose of hope. 

Talking to creatives of all kinds discussing their craft and the means by which they overcame lockdown to continue their passion has been incredibly moving. Whether the difficulties were practical – such as the lack of recording studios resulting in DIY music being fully embraced – or more profound, the means by which individuals were going to express themselves artistically proven that the arts will ALWAYS persevere.

The sense of camaraderie during lock down has been incredible, too. The support from individuals on social media has really taken us all back, as well as from fellow indie blogs, podcasts and magazines! More than ever, artist collaboration has came into the forefront. The community spirit is intensely heartening, and we really hope that continues.

Now that things are opening up again and the light is at the end of the tunnel, we really can’t wait to evolve with the creatives we feature!

Being able to bridge the gap between the reluctant bedroom bohemian lifestyle, and reaching back onto stages, festivals, poetry and prose readings, art exhibitions – however you wish to showcase your talent – is magic in itself, and we want to be there, too. We hope to bring content that embraces the arts as well as their wonderful venues!

However, we at STRANGER DAIS want to ensure that the stage online is just as legitimate of option. For many, the adjustment from lock down and isolation will be incredibly jarring, and it may take some time. Others will find the slow pace of live music being established again in venues incredibly disheartening. Our door will always be open to those who have something to say, and embrace creativity in its rawest form.”

Check out STRANGER DAIS on their website , and follow what they’re up to on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Keep up to date with Gary Duffy and his music on InstagramFacebook, and Spotify.

The Introspective Edit: Centre/Left/Right and Le Chéile.

Niamh and Cara from Le Chéile and Ciara from Centre/Left/Right.

The past year and everything that has come with it has proven itself to be a major adjustment to people from all walks of life, including the creatives that make up the local scene.  Those in the arts, as well as small business owners, have missed gigs, exhibitions, markets, readings, and performances- but they have often proven incredibly resilient and taken this difficult situation as a challenge, finding new and creative ways to keep their art going. 

The extra time a lot of us were suddenly given back in March 2020 has even resulted in new creative projects and businesses popping up- giving hope for a local creative scene more alive than ever as the world starts to make its slow paced return to some kind of normality. The Jumble Magazine has asked local creatives throughout NI/Ireland about their experiences over the past year, and how the change in pace, routine, accessibility, social life, and resources has affected how they do what they do. Over the next few days The Jumble will be platforming the voices of local creatives to share their own experiences.


Ciara Rooney is the talent behind DIY project Centre/Left/Right, since the beginning of 2020, Centre/Left/Right has released the Delay EP and two albums: 1997 and Bikes & Bridges Lead to Broken Bones. Ciara’s music spans across experimental guitar, dreamy synth wave,and hard rock. Ciara tells the Jumble how the initial lock down early last year forced her to use different tools to create a new sound:

“One thing in particular about the past year is that the periods of lock down introduced more genres into my music. When I returned home to Northern Ireland in the panic of March 2020, I was under the impression that a lot of us were: that is, I thought that lock down would only last a couple of  weeks and things would go back to normal. I thought that  I would fly back to England soon enough, and so I never had the foresight to bring my recording equipment with me.

This lack of equipment was something that I initially thought of as a set back, but it turned out to be a good thing. In fact, those circumstances were how my second album “1997” came about in June while I was stuck at home. ‘1997’ is  a synthwave album, and it is entirely created using only my laptop and MIDI. This unexpected situation is what pushed me to expand the genres I compose in, and I’m no longer limited to just guitar based music.”

Le Chéile

Handmade Irish Jewellery business Le Chéile (Pronounced: le Kayla) beautiful handmade pieces inspired by modern Irish culture. The brand was created by Cara Mahon and Niamh McCluskey, Niamhs background in fashion and women’s wear and Cara’s degree in Silversmithing & Jewellery makes them are the perfect team to create gorgeous rings, earrings, and necklaces inspired mainly by Irish women’s names. Their brand was a product of their own determination and the past year of lock down’s, they spoke to The Jumble about their experience. 

“Before lock down we were both working different jobs. I (Niamh) had an admin job and Cara was working in a jewelers. We talked about doing jewellery together before Covid, then lock down hit and both thought it was now or never. 

During lock down there were some days we had so many ideas on what we wanted to do, but other days felt more like a cognitive fog, which seemed pretty universal back in the early days of lock down. 

One benefit of the lock down for us was that it gave us time to think about what we wanted our business to be – we had more time to think through colour schemes, brand image and products. It also gave Cara time to teach me how to make jewellery; a skill that takes a lot of time, and one that I would never have had if it wasn’t for lock down. 

We think this past year has changed the way people shop. People are thinking more about what they buy, where it comes from and who is making it. Which is great to see!

We’re so overwhelmed with the amount of support from family, friends, and our customers. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Le Chéile!”

Check out more handmade Jewellry by Le Chéile on their website.


A Short Story by Peter Hollywood.

Peter Hollywood is the author of Jane Alley, Pretani Press (1987); Lead City and Other Stories, Lagan Press (2002); Luggage – a novel, Lagan Press (2008); Hawks and Other Short Stories (2013) and Drowning the Gowns – a Novel (2016) both published by New Island Books.  His stories have appeared in numerous journals and he has had stories represented in three anthologies:  State of the Art: Short Stories by New Irish Writers edited by David Marcus, published by Hodder and Stoughton and ‘Krino – An Anthology of Modern Irish Writing’ edited by Gerald Dawe and Jonathan Williams, published by Gill and MacMillan. The Welcome Centre opens the recently published anthology: Belfast Stories, Doire Press. He has also had ‘flash fiction’ anthologised in The Bramley Volumes 1 & 2.  The story The Cataracts Bus will appear in the forthcoming anthology The New Frontier: Contemporary Writing From & About the Irish Border. Peter is currently a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow in Seamus Heaney Centre, QUB.  

“… saeva indignatio/Ulterius/Cor lacerate nequit.”- Jonathan Swift.

The end

decided to ride on.

The Meeting

An urgent a.m. meeting.

Venue: the outer ring Ramada.  A rear conference room/function suite, overlooking the river.

Tables arranged in a hollow square formation; known also as a closed U.

No break-out rooms required.

Water cooler. Air conditioning. 

Housekeeping: “loos” just outside through the double doors.  “Gents to the left because ladies are always right!”

 No scheduled fire drill.  So, real thing.  Assembly point the carpark.


Device etiquette.

He watched people slide mobiles and smart phones from off the shiny, conference table surfaces; like gamblers palming the hands they’ve been dealt.  Others reached inside jackets or howked around in handbags. Turning to silent.

Homo Cellurlaris.’

He patted down his own pockets.

No phone.

It was mostly the men who barged in with that brash briskness, all business-like in high-shine shoes and manly handshakes. 

The hollow square arrangements allowed him to see the legs opposite him.  Some sat cross-legged.  Others had their legs tucked in under their seats.  One man had his stretched out and crossed at the ankles.  Expensive leather soles for all to see. One woman sat with her hands folded in her lap.

Serious, professional faces and their reflections in the polished surface of the tables.  Insects sat like reading glasses on the glacial surface.

People were clicking pens now and opening notebooks and file pads.  His briefcase he had set beside him on the carpet. He did not lean down to it. Discreetly he slid a sheet of hotel-headed paper towards him.  He patted pockets a second time, then lifted one of the hotel pencils with their logo printed down its length. 

The meeting began.

Management side: “…arms-length approach… not tenable going forward…”

Employee side: “… the situation we all find ourselves in here… other pressures have come to bear…”

One side: “ … sustainability policy… based on recommended headroom…’

The other side: “…not political conflict… not ‘conflict’… disagreement… ‘political disagreement’…”

Their side: “… it’s a paradox rather than a contradiction… go to that report… source appropriate language around this issue…’

Our side: “… not adhering to agreed guidelines… has an implementation date been set yet for starting?”

This side: “… I think we all know that.  THANK YOU.

That side: “… I do know that you know that… may I finish?”

Right-hand side: “ legal advice… not carrying out statutory duty..”

Left-hand side: “… privileged information… not anticipating sharing this more widely…”

All sides: “… want to get this as right as we can…”

Then. A moment of silence.  Respite.

  • You’ve got something to say, he was suddenly being told.
  • Yes, he stammered.  Yes.  That analogy.
  • What analogy?
  • Moving the goal-posts.
  • Well?

All eyes on him now.

  • I was just going to say that we might have moved the goal-posts but it’s still football.
  • I don’t follow.  Does anyone follow?

Some eyes averted now.  Others stare.

  • Well, he explained.  It’s not as if one minute we’re playing football then the next we’re playing golf. Or tennis.


  • It’s still the same game!
  • I see.  Thanks for that.

Not perspicuous enough.

The meeting resumed.

As the day wore on, speakers seemed to adopt the same, droning conference-voice.  His attention wearied.

Us: “Be a realist…. Demand the impossible…”

Him: “ …broken window theory…. fingerprint learning…’

Whisper: “Let’s open the gates of nurseries, universities, and other prisons…”

Sotto voce: “… colleges must seek out… old wives… sorcerers, wandering tribes… old robbers… take lessons from them….”

Afterwards, outside the conference room, people were still conducting those civil service, corridor conversations; snippets and fragments of which he caught as he made his way through. 

 He sat in the cubicle, the briefcase on his knees, until they had all driven their cars from the car-park across which he then traversed on foot, bringing the brief-case with him.

The Encounter

He walked down a short service road, past a hockey pitch, through a green iron gate, across a small hump-backed stone bridge and onto the tow-path walk-way. 

And the river.

Tow-path etiquette.  Keep to the left.  Dogs on leads.

He was among mid-morning mothers now pushing buggies and prams; towing toddlers behind them. Retirees, coupled or alone, that tall grey-haired woman, for example, walking with her hands behind her back. Walking groups; power-walkers and joggers, laying down invisible contrails of scent and soap and antiperspirants as they passed, ear-budded or head-phones fitted. Cyclists.  Solitary strollers, phones Velcroed to the sides of faces or held out before them to frown down upon and consult.  Thumbs going ninety-to-the-dozen. 

Twitto ergo sum.’ 

Everyone adhering to tow-path etiquette.

He passed a couple of young teen-age girls and overheard:

  • …and there’s this three-hour kayak tour where you paddle out into the dark and there’s no light and stuff and you can see the stars!

Her sense of wonderment got to him and he felt a yearning drop like an anchor through his chest and throat and stomach.

Then, well along the walk-way, he met two women.  One had a dog on a lead.  Her companion’s dog dawdled well behind them.

  • Dingbat! Called its owner.  C’mon.

The little terrier’s head did jerk up at this and, as he drew near, the dog did begin to pad off in the owner’s direction.  Only then its nostrils wolfed down some odour or scent which stopped it in its tracks and lured it to turn round again. 

Momentarily it trotted at his heels, then overtook him, aimed at a clump of dandelions and weeds on the river-bank.

  • Dingbat! Come. On.

Someone had gone to the trouble of knitting a woollen coat for the dog in emerald green, with a thin red design worked into the pattern.

Putting down the briefcase, he bent and picked the dog up.  This action caused the owner to call again, her summons this time tinged with the interrogative or puzzled:

  • Dingbat? Don’t be bothering that man.
  • Hello Dingbat, he said.

Then he tossed the little terrier into the swiftly swirling river.

  • DINGBAT. Jesus Christ! MISTER.  What the fuck!

The distraught dog-owner was waving her ball-launcher madly about her head.

Retrieving his briefcase, he walked on. Unhurried and, with each step taken, patently un-harrassed. 

No matter now it was meant to be the briefcase. 

 Rounding a bend, he was out of eye-sight and almost out of voice-range but for pieces of hysterical and high-pitched pleas and pleadings, fragments of invective; and also, not quite out of earshot, scraps of yelps and yaps and barking. 

‘Disjecta membra.’ 

Like Orpheus.

It was a matter of minutes before he heard a high-speed whirr of wheels and a racing-bike sliced past him.  The rider braked some way ahead.  The cyclist put one support foot down on the tarmac of the tow-path but did not otherwise dismount.  He looked around at him.

Without breaking step.

Without missing a beat.

Without changing pace.

He kept on.

The Beginning of the End

So that, sizing him up, the cyclist

May Rosa Addresses the NI Suicide Epidemic with Poignant Release ‘Ceasefire Baby’

Photograph by Tolu Ogunware. Hair/Makeup by Rebecca Duff.

Content Warning: The following article and featured May Rosa track ‘Ceasefire Baby’ deals with themes of suicide, depression, and PTSD. 

Alt Pop Artist, Actress, Song- writer, and Screenwriter, May Rosa has been making her mark on the Irish music scene since her debut single ‘Dancing in the Debris’ was released in 2017. More recently, Maya has been moved by the ongoing suicide epidemic in Northern Ireland, drawn by harrowing statistics to write a track partially inspired by the article ‘Suicide of The Ceasefire Babies’ by the late Lyra McKee. The The synth-tinged track explores the reasons why such a catastrophic amount of lives have been lost to suicide since the 1998 Ceasefire, addressing the nations trauma, lack of mental health services and funding, unemployment and substance misuse. The song is written from the perspective of a woman who, having lost her husband in the violence of the troubles, goes on to lose her son to suicide, demonstrating a paradox between war and peace in Northern Ireland. All proceeds from the single go towards PIPS, and Aware NI- Defeat Depression.

May Rosa spoke to The Jumble Magazine about ‘Ceasefire Baby’  and some of the data that moved her to write about the topic. 

Ceasefire Baby started as a poem that I wrote in a coffee shop in South West London a couple of years ago. The words came from a place of sadness and anger about the lack of awareness, support and funding for the mental health crisis and suicide epidemic in Northern Ireland. This has affected me, and so many people I know, directly or indirectly, and it was something I always wanted to write about.

I came up with the idea of writing it from the perspective of a woman who lost her husband in The Troubles and her son to suicide, to highlight the paradox between war and peace here. When I put it to music, I didn’t really think about it being a single, as it’s very different to my other songs. It’s also really heavy, dealing with two taboo subjects, and I suppose that made me a bit uncomfortable or nervous. When I started playing it live with my band in London however, I knew I had to release it. It has always elicited such a strong response. People came up to me after my set and asked questions about the situation – they were confused as to why it was so under-publicised. It still blows my mind that even some people in NI don’t even know the extent of the problem. 

We recorded the track remotely over lockdown, with Ryan McGroarty producing, mixing, and mastering and Cheylene Murphy on Keys (Beauty Sleep). It was a seamless process. Those two are just amazing.

My brother and I then produced and directed the video in December. We had been planning it for a long time and it was exactly as envisioned – the DOP George Barnes captured the atmosphere completely. The people involved were far-reaching – from the crew, to the cast, to the owners of the locations. It was humbling that so many believed in this project and gave their time and energy. The most common thing we heard throughout the whole process was ‘Everyone knows someone’, so the support makes sense. 

The reaction to the song and video has been sobering, with many sharing stories and experiences in response. It’s just all so, so sad. Some messages have made me cry, but more than anything I feel angry. Many of us do. 

Northern Ireland deserves so much better than this. 

Northern Ireland has the highest levels of PTSD in the world according to a major International Report by Ulster University, and higher suicide rates than the rest of the UK, yet recent data (2015-2016) shows only 5.5% of the healthcare budget is allocated to mental health services, where as the data for the same yearly period shows that in England the funding allocated to mental health services equates to around 13% of their own healthcare budget. As a result, waiting lists for mental health treatment are currently approximated to be around 24 times the length of England and Wales COMBINED. This lack of funding and support means that more people experiencing mental ill health will have to resort to emergency or crisis services. 

This is an insult to those suffering, and those who have lost friends and family. Whole communities are grieving. I really do hope, that in some small way, Ceasefire Baby, contributes to a change in Northern Ireland’s approach to mental health.

Listen to ‘Ceasefire Baby’ and consider make a contribution to PIPS and AWARENI by buying the track for £1 on Bandcamp.

You can also donate via May Rosa’s Artist Fundraising Pick on Spotify. 

Read more about the data mentioned above and the mental health Crisis in Northern Ireland: 

Suicide of The Ceasefire Babies by Lyra McKee.

Ulster University Research on the Extremely high levels of PTSD in Northern Ireland. 

UK Parliment Publication Adressing Northern Ireland’s funding for Mental Health Services (With Comparisons to England) and how Northern Ireland has the Highest Suicide Rate in the UK. 

‘Making Parity A Reality’ A Review of Mental Health Policies in Northern Ireland

By Professor Siobhan O’ Neill, Professor Deirdre Heenan and Dr Jennifer Betts Supported by Action Mental Health. 

Related Organisations and Charities in Northern Ireland:

PIPS: Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm

Aware NI.