Arts Film Outcomes Reports

David Begley ‘Small Finds’

Artist in Residence

David Begley ‘Small Finds’

David Begley is an artist, writer and arts educator who works through the mediums of drawing, painting, print, animation, video, sound, writing and gardening/nature connection.

David was commissioned in 2020 by the Ancient Connections Project to become our artist in residence, following the Exploring a Shared Past strand (diving into the history and archaeological connections between Wexford and Pembrokeshire) in a creative and participatory way.

David’s own journey started with a period of intense research which continued through the course of his residency…

“My research was extensive throughout this residency. It included foraging materials from hedgerows in Ferns to create a palette of medieval inks, developing techniques in using these, researching the history of medieval inks and manuscript making, illumination, quill making, reed pen making in order to make my own drawing tools and impart this knowledge to pupils of St Edan’s National School. I learned to carve spoons in the tradition of Welsh Cawl spoons by attending a private workshop with Welsh carver Osian Denman. I filmed and edited this experience, carved sycamore spoons, and used these in ink making”

Enthused by his research, David created a beautiful garden at St Edan’s National School. He then worked alongside children at the school delivering a twelve-week visual art, heritage and gardening project where pupils grew fruit, vegetables, medicinal and culinary herbs and flowers and used these as sources for drawing, painting, science and history lessons and workshops. Inspired by the medieval monk, St. Aidan, many of the plants chosen for the garden would have grown in medieval monastic gardens.

A 10,000 word illustrated account of this experience can be read here:

And an online exhibition of school children’s work can be viewed here:

David also produced a body of magical images entitled ‘Small Finds’ from the inks he created using foraged materials including oak gall, alder cone and elderberries. More images and information on how to purchase prints can be found here:

Small finds, a journey into ink’ is a documentary of his experience making these images and can be viewed here

You can download David’s full report on his Ancient Connections residency below:

Click here to get in touch with David or to find out more about his work.


Archive Community

Creative Camino Concert – Ferns Heritage Project

Community Project

Creative Camino Concert – Ferns Heritage Project

Ferns Heritage Project are organising a concert to take place in St Edan’s Cathedral as part of Ancient Connections Creative Camino pilgrimage project, which begins its journey from Ferns to St Davids in May 2021. The concert will feature original songs inspired by the music of O’Carolan and will present a premier performance of the first phase of a three-phased suite inspired by the themes of Ancient Connections and written by Melanie O’Reilly. The event will feature local adult and children’s choirs as well as local musicians – Ferns Comhaltas.

Melanie O’Reilly, vocalist and professional music teacher will conduct workshops with the adult choir in preparation for the concert.  The choir will join Melanie and her group in the specially composed piece to be premiered at the concert. Composition of phases 2 and 3 will be inspired by workshops in Ferns and St. David’s taking place after the initial concert.

Date: May 2020 – May 2021

Project Outputs: Community Concert and Workshops

Learn More at:

Archive Community

The MacMurrough Inquiry – Ferns Heritage

Community Project

The MacMurrough Inquiry – Ferns Heritage Project

The MacMurrough Inquiry took place on October 12th, 2019 to mark the 850th anniversary of the arrival of the Normans in Wexford. The event took place in St. Edan’s Cathedral and was part of the 2019 Ferns Conference.

The Inquiry, which was packed with local members of the community and visitors from Wales, used a model of judicial inquiry with real barristers and a real high court judge in modern dress and the key characters from the medieval period dressed in medieval costume. It explored the extent to which Diarmuid MacMurrough was responsible for the Norman ‘invasion’.

Witnesses from the period gave testimony, based on historic facts, and on events leading up to the ‘invasion’. Ancient Connections brought two actors from Wales to play the parts of Strongbow (The 2nd Earl of Pembroke) and Robert Fitzharding, a Bristol merchant. Ancient Connections also arranged for historian Dr Euryn Roberts from Bangor University to set the historical scene for cross-border relationships between Wales and Ireland during this period.

The Inquiry found Diarmuid McMurrough not guilty of causing the invasion.

Date: October 2019

Project Outputs: A Mock Inquiry