First Northern Ireland Music Film to be Released Since Covid-19 

Premiered on World Music Day, Sunday 21st June at 7pm

Come join us. Together. Under a Distant Sky.

This weekend, the award-winning company Snow Water were due to host their annual Distant Sky Summer Solstice Festival on Rathlin Island. The Distant Sky Festival series was set up to “to share the things we love, the things we enthuse about, the things that keep us going” and they bring the best of music, spoken word and great company to some of the most special places in Northern Ireland. Each celebrates the stories of local talent, craftsmen and entrepreneurs from the local area plus the finest NI musicians. Snow Water has built a reputation for nailing the right music to the right venues, creating the perfect night out, making memories and I-Was-There moments. 


As the festival can’t happen this year, Snow Water, in association with Smarts and Tourism Ireland, has produced NI’s first music film following Covid-19 Health and Safety Guidelines in order to bring Rathlin to audiences across the world. And on what better time than the Summer Solstice weekend and World Music Day.  Viewers can sit back and enjoy ‘Distant Sky Rathlin’ for free from the comfort of their own homes, and the 30min film presented by broadcaster Joe Lindsay will feature: 


  • One of Ireland’s foremost composers and musicians, Neil Martin, with a new interpretation of the “Silent, Oh Moyle”, written about the stretch of water between Rathlin Island and Fair Head. Lyrics for the ancient Irish song were written by the poet Thomas Moore in the early 1800s.


  • The premiere of new work, “La Lune”, by folk singer and songsmith Ciara O’Neill.  Notching up praise from BBC6 Music to RTE Radio One, Ciara most notably played in front of a TV audience of 60 million in the States alongside Grammy nominees Iain Archer and Jim Lauderdale as part of the ‘Music City Roots’ programme.  
  • The new single released just this week “You Said, Tell Me” from Derry-based Indie-folk artist Reevah. Tipped as ‘Hot for 2020’ by Hotpress Magazine – her voice, pure, understated and fearless, stays in the heart and the mind long after the music is over.  
  • A reading by novelist Glenn Patterson from his latest non-fiction work, “Backstop Land”. Glenn is the author of 11 novels, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University and co-wrote the award-winning screenplay and theatre production of Good Vibrations.  
  • “Remember June?” by Tour Alaska, which was premiered on Rathlin last year. Gerry Norman is the frontman for one of Northern Ireland’s most celebrated alternative rock bands, A Plastic Rose, who have had arena tours supporting Snow Patrol, Biffy Clyro and Twenty One Pilots.  
  • The programme will also have an exclusive interview between Joe Lindsay and Noel McCurdy, who maintains the lighthouse on Rathlin, on how what island life has been like during lockdown. The film concludes with The Rathlin Island Choir singing The Rathlin Song with new footage from the island.


Joe Lindsay, the Artistic Associate of Snow Water and presenter of Distant Sky Rathlin, said:

“Of all the projects we at Snow Water do, our Distant Sky: Rathlin gigs have always been incredibly special. The gathering of musicians and writers, going to that wonderful island where we always get such a beautiful, warm welcome and we always make great memories there. Like many people who have had to cancel events and gigs this year, we are gutted we won’t be able to bring Distant Sky to the island this year. So we thought we would gather up the artists who were set to collaborate with us and put a film together to share at least a flavour of what we do. We still feel under the same sky as the islanders and people we miss and cannot wait to return to.”   


Director of Snow Water, Carolyn Mathers, commented:

“Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland have continued to showcase our artists to audiences both at home and overseas through social media at this time. Distant Sky is a celebration of our landscape, its beauty, wildness and how it inspires music and prose from our greatest musicians and writers. The combination allows the imagination to take people to another place. We are delighted to be working with Tourism Ireland’s  #FillyourheartwithIreland initiative in order to bring our finest artists and the sights and sounds of Rathlin to all corners of the world.”


Following last year’s festival, the Rathlin Co-operative commented:

“Sometimes in life you get a chance to build on a dream…it is such a special festival to bring everyone together through music, song, drink, food, poetry & craic. It was all about Rathlin, our home & showed how unique it is.”


The programme will be premiered on Youtube on Sunday 21st June at 7pm at Distant Sky Rathlin.

Follow Snow Water’s Distant Sky on Facebook and Instagram @distantskysw



About Snow Water

Snow Water (title is by kind permission of Michael Longley) was set up four years go to celebrate the finest artistic talent Northern Ireland has to offer, to explore our rich cultural heritage, to provide a space for artists to collaborate, and to showcase our artistic excellence internationally.  Most recently the team have delivered its fourth Atlantic Sessions (which received the NI Tourism Award 2017), delivered over 120 music events during The Open Portrush, Folk Park Live! Songs of the Settlers which is a permanent musical journey of over 300 years situated at the Ulster American Folk Park, NI Opera’s Opera House programme, and a series of coastal festivals entitled ‘Distant Sky.’





Belfast-born Neil Martin is a composer and musician with an international reputation who enjoys a most varied career encompassing dance, opera, theatre, film, television, radio, concert hall and studio. Recent compositions include Sweeney, for solo traditional singer, narrator and orchestra, based on Seamus Heaney’s Sweeney Astray, and a score for a 90-minute tv film, Lost Lives. Other significant works include a duet for dancer and cellist, This is an Irish dance (co-created and performed with Jean Butler), a score for Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis and the choral symphony OSSA. A cellist and an uilleann piper, Neil has collaborated with many leading artists, from Liam O’Flynn, Bryn Terfel, Sam Shepard, Christy Moore, Stephen Rea, Josh Groban, Jean Butler and Barry Douglas to the LSO, RPO and all the principle orchestras in Ireland. He has scored music for plays on Broadway, in the West End and in Europe, and has contributed to more than a hundred albums. Performance venues range from Carnegie Hall to the Palazzo Vecchio and his ground-breaking work with the West Ocean String Quartet has been lauded globally.


Derry based Indie-folk artist Reevah’s acclaimed debut EP ‘Hummingbird’ was released in June 2018 and aired on RTE Radio One and BBC Introducing amongst numerous others. She has supported acts such as SOAK, Lisa Hannigan, Wyvern Lingo, and Duke Special and has played at various events such as Other Voices, The Ruby Sessions, Output Festival, BBC Fringe Festival and Stendhal Festival. Tipped as ‘Hot for 2020’ by Hotpress Magazine, Reevah is already in the midst of her busiest year yet. Her E.P ‘A Different Light’, was released in May 2020.  Reevah’s music is immersive and reflective allowing the listener a chance to escape the speed of life. But it’s her voice, pure, understated and fearless, that stays in the heart and the mind long after the music is over. 



Tour Alaska is the solo project of A Plastic Rose frontman Gerry Norman. This solo expedition is a chance for Norman to show a more mellow side by swapping distorted guitars and screaming vocals for the stripped-back sound of acoustic guitar, piano and intermittent strings. Lyrically and musically, it’s an intimate experience for both performer and audience, exploring loss, the past, and how love and determination can bring you back to joy. A Plastic Rose have released two critically acclaimed albums, ‘Camera.Shutter.Life’ and ‘Flickering Light Of An Inner War’ through Third Bar, and are regarded as one of Northern Ireland’s most celebrated alternative rock bands. Norman has toured all over the UK, Ireland and Europe multiple times including arena tours supporting Snow Patrol, Biffy Clyro and Twenty One Pilots. 



Folk singer and songsmith Ciara O’Neill she released her debut album in 2016, notching up praise from BBC6 Music’s Tom Robinson, Hot Press magazine and, and her second album ‘Arrow’ released in 2018 was produced by Michael Mormecha. In addition to writing solo, Ciara is also a keen collaborator and has worked with many world class songwriters and artists over the past few years including Gary Burr [Christina Aguilera, LeAnn Rimes], Grammy winner Don Henry [Ray Charles, Miranda Lambert], Max T. Barnes [Colin Raye, Randy Travis] and Grammy nominated Drew Ramsey [John Legend, India Arie] amongst others. On the live front, Ciara most notably played in front of a TV audience of 60 million in the States alongside Grammy nominees Iain Archer and Jim Lauderdale as part of the ‘Music City Roots programme. In 2018 Ciara showcased her music at the Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas City as well as undertaking a small tour of the UK/ROI and represented the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in Brussels. 



Born in Belfast, novelist Glenn Patterson is the Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast and founding patron of Fighting Words Belfast. He is the author of 11 novels, five non-fiction works, and he has written plays for Radio 3 and Radio 4. He also co-wrote the screenplay of Good Vibrations (BBC Films), released in 2012, about the music scene in Belfast during the late 1970s.

Writers’ Guild of Ireland Best Script (with Colin Carberry, 2013). He was the 2016 Heimbold Visiting Chair of Irish Studies at Villanova University and before that, in 2013, Ireland Fund Artist-in-Residence at St Michael’s College, University of Toronto.  Glenn has also received the Dinard Film Festival Script Award, Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship (2008/9) and was elected to Aosdána in 2007.

JOE LINDSAY – Presenter

Joe Lindsay has been a radio and television broadcaster for over 25 years, covering a wide variety of subjects with BBCNI, RTE, BBC1, 6Music, BBC2, Channel 5 and Channel 4. He first started out as a film and music critic for the multi-award winnig Across The Line programme on BBC Radio Ulster. For 6music festival Big Weekend, he presented the coverage from Belfast with Lauren Laverne, hosting live radio and television broadcasts for over 8 hours across BBC4, BBC2, Radio 2 and 6music. For the past 13 series, he has presented the award-winning, highly rating travel series Getaways, visiting over 100 countries, covering destinations such as Hong Kong, much of America, South America, Canada and Europe, also travelling round Ireland promoting it as a short break destination. Most recently he wrote and presented a documentary on Oliver Jeffers for BBC NI, filming in New York, London, Paris and Belfast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: