Programme 2017

ColumbaFest logo (Iona Abbey stain glass window) with banner + dates


ColumbaFest takes place in two venues:

  • The Ground, 21 Carlton Court, Glasgow G5 9JP. See map here.
  • Gorbals Church, 1 Errol Gardens, Glasgow G5 0RA. See map here.

Please check the timings and location of events below.


Day and Evening tickets are bookable online in advance here.

They are also available on the day and on the door:

Friday @ Gorbals Church (from 6.30pm);

Saturday @ The Ground (from 9.00am);

Sunday @ The Ground (from 12.30pm) and Gorbals Church (from 6.30pm).

The following parts of the ColumbaFest programme are free:

Saturday, 5.45 – 7.15 pm @ The Ground

A Fischy Concert’ – Fischy Music + Picnic

(see below for details)

Sunday, 9.00am – 12.30pm @ Gorbals Church

‘Sunday Morning General (r)E(f)lections’

‘A Columba Of Iona Liturgy’ 

(see below for details)

Friday 9th June

6.30 pm   [Gorbals Church]

Doors open. Registrations & refreshments.

7.30 – 8.45 pm   [Gorbals Church]

Ishbel McFarlane/ Feral Arts: ‘O Is For Hoolet’

Language is personal. Nothing gets closer to our hearts. And yet, by its own nature, it’s always social. Who owns it? Who appoints it? Who governs it? And why? In this one-woman show about the Scots language, Ishbel McFarlane presents collected fragments – stories, interviews, memories, characters and attitudes – to challenge and disrupt our expectations and prejudices about language. By interrogating the history of Scots, and the ways in which it is taught and subdued, the audience is invited to question the way forward for minority languages.

‘An engaging, heart-warming piece which is a lovingly made look at language as a living, pulsating, external thing as natural as breathing.’ ★★★★ – The List

9.15 – 10.15pm   [Gorbals Church]

The In-Laws

Steve Butler (of Lies Damned Lies fame) and daughter-in-law, Suzanne (of Fischy Music reknown), in a rare opportunity to take a guided tour through their creative output, and their own all-time favourite songs  – both secular and sacred.


Saturday 10th June

All ColumbaFest events on Saturday are at The Ground, 21 Carlton Court, G5 9JP.

9.00 am   [The Ground]

Gathering & refreshments.

9.30 – 10.45 am   [The Ground]

‘Scots Gaelic Culture Today’- Mary Ann Kennedy

Mary Ann Kennedy image - laughing

Drawing on her cultural background, musical work and experience, Mary Ann unlocks the treasure trove of Scots Gaelic culture in all its variety and relentlessness, to share the joys,  insights and challenges it faces and offers in our multi-cultural society.


9.30 – 10.45 am   [The Ground Courtyard]

‘In The Waterscape Of St Columba: radical discipleship in stormy times’ – Luke Devlin

The lives of the saints are not simply pious stories to be admired, but blueprints of possible ways of being in the world. Columba’s time and place seem distant, but by drawing out startling and often hidden resonances – and connections between Iona and the Clyde – we can draw closer than we might expect. We may find the encouragement and hope we need to navigate the ominous waters we inhabit today can be drawn from the same deep sources that inspired these unreasonable monks to set out on their mission with no strength or security other than their faith.

10.45 – 11.15 am   [The Ground]


11.15 am – 12.30 pm   [The Ground]

‘Doing Singleness, Doing Family: exploring our perceptions of happiness and good life’ – Lina Toth

Lina Toth - photo 001

Whilst we are witnessing an unprecedented surge in the number of single people in our society, churches are still often preoccupied with couples and families. Why is that so, given that the New Testament extolled singleness, and early Christians were often accused of being ‘anti-family’? We will explore the roots of the modern focus on nuclear family in the Western society and the church, and look at ways of ‘re-learning happiness’ that can transform both singleness and family life.

11.15 am – 12.30 pm   [The Ground Courtyard]

‘Celtic Spirituality? – Pádraig Ó Tuama

Is ‘celtic’ Spirituality a thing? or is it just another way to bring tourists to our shores? Join Pádraig, a sometimes celt, in exploring stories of Bríd, Patrick, myths, made-up daftness and the understanding that celtic spirituality usually is a response to things that might kill you.

12.30 – 1.30 pm   


1.30 – 2.45 pm   [The Ground]

‘Give Shelter To The Stranger: ‘ – Alison Phipps & Robert Swinfen

This workshop will explore some practical and theological issues, based on ten years of offering a home to refugees. Through stories and reflections, the practical implications of offering hospitality to those with whom we may share little language or little in common culturally will be brought into focus. For the last 10 years Robert and Alison have been involved with a wide range of organisations offering practical help and support to refugees and asylum seekers. They will share their experiences and stories during this workshop.

1.30 – 2.45 pm   [The Ground Courtyard]

‘In Conversation’ – Mary Ann Kennedy & Pádraig Ó Tuama

Mary Ann Kennedy image - laughing

Scots Gaelic meets Irish Gaelic culture, as Mary Ann and Pádraig informally muse on their individual creative processes and how these have been formed and influenced by their cultural contexts.

2.45 – 4.00 pm   [The Ground]

‘Understanding Conflict Styles’ – Pádraig Ó Tuama

What are you like in conflict? Do you rush into it? Do you avoid it? Does it bewilder you? Do you try to win or try to compromise. Understanding conflict styles can be invaluable for relationships, friendships and workplaces. This seminar will explore practical tools for understanding conflict styles, as well as highlighting what is helpful in various styles.

2.45 – 4.00 pm   [The Ground Courtyard]

‘Feuch Facal’ – Mary Ann Kennedy

Mary Ann Kennedy image - laughing

Are you essentially a monoglot? Fancy becoming a bit more multilingual? Mary Ann offers a wee crash-course in Scots Gaelic. By the end of this session, you’ll no longer be a beginner, even if you might not be able to compose the most fluent poetry and prose!


4.00 – 4.30 pm   [The Ground]


4.30 – 5.45 pm   [The Ground]

‘The Greening Of God’ – John L. Bell

Issues regarding ecology are forever rehearsed in the media. But global warming, pollution, fracking and the like have never rated high as matters of faith. John wants to tip the balance, not by inventing an eco-friendly spirituality but by pointing to the deep mine of biblical witness which has rarely been explored.

4.30 – 5.45 pm   [The Ground Courtyard]

‘An Ordinary Different Life: Living in Base Christian Community’ – BERT & John Harvey

BERT - Map of Albert Cross in PollokshieldsRachel Anderson, Bryan Evans, Catriona Milligan and Ian Milligan are members of the BERT Community in Pollokshields on Glasgow’s south side. Here they share insights on the importance and power of living closely together, sharing time, prayer (and yes, even possessions and resources!). They will be joined in conversation by John Harvey, former Iona Community Leader and one-time member of the ground-breaking Gorbals Community in the 50s.

5.45 – 7.15 pm   [The Ground]

‘A Fischy Concert’ – Fischy Music + Picnic   [FREE]

The immaculate Fischy Music with a concert featuring their unique songs – full of hope, humour and profundity, such as ‘Build Up’, ‘You Are A Star’ and ‘Stronger’ – as widely used in both schools and churches. They will be featuring some songs from their latest album, ‘Sing To Make You Feel Good’.

This event is free and families, children (and others!) are most welcome. All are invited to bring a picnic/ sandwiches, and juice, drinks and biscuits will be provided. 

7.30 – 10.30 pm   [The Ground]

A Wild Goose Ceilidh Home Companion

A song & storytelling ceilidh, hosted by the Wild Goose Resource Group and featuring Mary Ann Kennedy, Pádraig Ó Tuama and James Cathcart.

Ceilidhs are traditionally gatherings to share songs, stories, turns and even, gossip! Sometimes there might have been spontaneous dancing, but this wasn’t the main element, unlike the contemporary content of such get-togethers.

So, in following the source tradition, this evening will be more about listening, watching, laughing, sharing … and perhaps including a wee turn from any participant who fancies making a delightful contribution. An evening of self-entertainment in which we are all the performers, to provide delight and easy-going refreshment for body, mind and soul.

Sunday 11th June

The morning events in the ColumbaFest programme at Gorbals Church are free. Afternoon events at The Ground and the evening concert at Gorbals Church are part of the standard programme.

Tickets for both the afternoon workshops and the evening concert will be available at The Ground, 21 Carlton Court from 12.30pm. Tickets for the evening concert will be available on the door at Gorbals Church.

9.00 am   [Gorbals Church]


9.15 – 10.30 am   [Gorbals Church]

‘Sunday Morning General (r)E(f)lections’   [FREE]

BERT - Map of Albert Cross in PollokshieldsWith morning papers, tea, coffee and croissants provided, BERT’s Ian Milligan will host a relaxed time of browsing, reading and reflecting together on what’s happening in the news, the nation, the world – and perhaps accidentally – sharing thoughts and reactions about a recent, apparently fairly important, exercise in democracy, that we believe is otherwise known as a General Election … All welcome.

11.00 – 12.30 am   [Gorbals Church]

‘A Columba Of Iona Liturgy’   [FREE]

A service of worship, led by Rev Ian Galloway, Wild Goose Resource Group and ColumbaFest. We will celebrate themes from Columba’s life, including incarnation, learning, mission, exile, prayer, spirituality, political engagement and discipleship … in song, word, silence and symbolic action. All welcome.

12.30 – 1.30 pm


1.30 – 2.45 pm   [The Ground]

‘The Poetry & Lyrics of Leonard Cohen’ – Pádraig Ó Tuama

Leonard Cohen, of blessed memory, sounded like the Mountain of the Earth was Canadian, Jewish and lyrical. Initially making his name as a poet, he moved onto music, and always his lyrics had the quality of brilliance. This session will explore texts from his book ‘The Book of Mercy’ as well as his final three albums, looking at spirituality, death, sensuality and humour.

1.30 – 2.45 pm   [The Ground Courtyard]

‘What we can do for peace and justice in Israel-Palestine?’ – Eurig Scandrett

The continuing conflict in Israel-Palestine are a challenge to those who yearn for global justice and peace. In the year that the Balfour Declaration of 1917 casts a long shadow on its centenary, Eurig shares insight into the issues and our possible responses, including that of the Iona Community in a recently-adopted position, as a signatory to the Kairos Britain document, ‘Time for action’ and its long-standing commitment, through prayer, protest and active engagement to seeking peace and justice in Israel/Palestine.

2.45 – 4.00 pm   [The Ground]

‘Art, Suffering And The Radical Self’ – Deborah Lewer

Suffering is crucial – literally – to the gospel story. Sooner or later it is also part of any story of the self and of any real love. In this session we will look at how artists of the past have envisioned particular moments of suffering: separation, rejection, banishment, grief and remorse. We will focus too on the light in the darkness. Along the way there will be some fun with the well-worn and well-marketed image of the ‘suffering artist’ and some questioning around how churches, museums and our contemporary culture can both enable and sometimes hinder our learning from these rich visual testimonies. Come and see things anew.

2.45 – 4.00 pm   [The Ground Courtyard]

‘Deeper Conversation’ – Jo Love

Are you interested in unlocking the potential and power of deeper conversation and finding ways to talk more openly? Jo Love certainly is  – though she advises not coming to this workshop if you believe there is nothing unique or distinctive about face-to-face relationship, compared to more virtual or social-media controlled encounter at a distance …

4.00 – 4.30 pm [The Ground]


4.30 – 5.45 pm   [The Ground]

‘Sing With The World’ – John L. Bell & WGRG

Big Sings in WGRG-style increasingly need little explanation … they are a time to sing together to make a unique, glorious, communal noise. In their characteristic a cappella, communal style, John and WGRG will be homing in on such simple excellence as we collectively waggle wur tonsils and sing together on a global theme.

 5.45 – 7.00 pm  

Tea time break.

The evening concert that follows is at Gorbals Church. Tickets are available at the door from 6.30 pm.

7.00 – 10.00 pm   [Gorbals Church]

ColumbaFest’s closing concert featuring two local wonders …

Margaret McLarty

Margaret is a Scottish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Her debut album ‘Brigid’s Birds’ will be released in June 2017 and draws on life and people loved in Glasgow, Iona and Zambia. Tonight, Margaret will be playing songs from this debut album , which has been described as ‘exquisite’, ‘tender’, ‘evocative’ and ‘a tiny feathery masterpiece’.

Ashton Lane

Ashton Lane's Esther & Tim beside a sandstone wall

This exceedingly impressive, local Glasgow country band have a romantic back-story and come from fine musical stock. They are husband and wife duo, Esther and Tim O’Connor, and they are part of a new wave of homegrown modern country music originating in Scotland and the UK. They’ll have just ‘jetted in’ from the Isle Of Wight Festival, at which they were starring, to perform songs from their vast repertoire. Songs will include many from their most recent album ‘Nashville Heart‘, which received 5-star reviews and radio support around the UK and Europe.

Download the latest ColumbaFest flyer here. Any help with publicity, much appreciated.

See the weeWONDERBOX 2016-17 listings page for more information about other events in the programme.

To receive updates of weeWONDERBOX events, sign up to the WGRG/ weeWONDERBOX eNews here.

Weewonderbox logo, 150dpi, 050416 - REDweeWONDERBOX is a programme of events organised by the Iona Community’s Programme team and the Wild Goose Resource Group.
0141 429 7281