From Ireland to Gaza: Irish artists beam message of solidarity to Palestine

A group called From Ireland with Love projected the image on to the Cliffs of Moher

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It was a message of solidarity via light. On Wednesday, a group of Irish artists and filmmakers shone an image of support to Gaza by projecting its name on to the Cliffs of Moher.

Their design was simple – the word "Gaza" in bold letters, with a heart. It was beamed on to the seaside cliffs that look out towards the Atlantic Ocean.

Named From Ireland with Love, the group behind the initiative includes artists, photographers, filmmakers, humanitarian workers, lighting technicians and event organisers from County Clare in Ireland, who worked with local farmers to document the scene.

“The image is a symbol of both grief and empathy, and is particularly addressed to children in Gaza, both those who were killed and those who survived the killing of the rest of their families,” the group wrote in an announcement.

From Ireland with Love made special mention of the children who had survived the aerial bombardment of Gaza by Israeli forces that took place over 11 days in mid-May.

“Amongst many others, the image is dedicated to survivors 6-year-old Suzy Ishkontana, 5-month-old Omar al-Hadidi and 10-year-old Aziz Al-Kolak,” said the statement.

"It is also dedicated to Rola, Hala and Yara Al-Kolak, all under 12 years old, who were receiving trauma and psycho-social supports via the Norwegian Refugee Council in the months leading up to their recent deaths."

Israeli air strikes killed more than 250 people in Gaza, 68 of which were children.

The projection also aims to help raise funds for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), which offers medical and humanitarian support in Gaza.

Among those involved in From Ireland with Love's initiative were documentary filmmakers and first responders who had spent time in Palestine. One of them is Caoimhe Butterly, a filmmaker who worked as a volunteer EMT on ambulances in Palestine and was involved in psychosocial projects in Gaza, the West Bank and camps in Lebanon.

“We projected our solidarity with those who are being mourned and those who have survived. We did so as a symbolic lighthouse in the storms of injustice, or – as a friend put it – as a ‘beam of love’,” Butterly said. “Our hope was to connect those in Ireland with people across the seas in Palestine,” she said in a separate statement, adding that the response to the project has been “heart-warming”.

Dearbhla Glynn, another organiser, acknowledged the wave of solidarity that has spread across Ireland for Palestine over the past few weeks. “We wanted to add to the responses already organised across the country, using the medium of visual art,” she said. Glynn is a filmmaker and artist who had worked on a film in Gaza and currently lives near the Cliffs of Moher.

The solidarity between Ireland and Palestine is a long-standing one, gaining strength in the 1960s, particularly following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War that turned up to 325,000 Palestinians into refugees.

It was also in the late 1960s that The Troubles, a period of conflict in Northern Ireland between Unionists who wanted to retain ties to Great Britain and Irish Republicans, who sought a united Ireland free from British rule, began.

In 1980, Ireland endorsed the establishment of a Palestinian state, making it the first European Union (EU) member state to do so. In May, the Irish government once again became the first in the EU to condemn what it called "de facto annexation" of Palestinian land by Israel.