Social Evening at the West

24th August 2023

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A very special social event was held on the island on Wednesday 9th August. Travelling up
to the West Light Seabird Centre, over thirty Rathlin residents were joined by members of
the Black family, island musicians, and volunteers and staff from the Seabird Centre, to join
in a celebration of Rathlin’s rich cultural heritage.

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The event, funded by donations in lieu of flowers after the untimely passing of Michael
Black’s wife Sonia Soo Hoo in 2019, was intended to give something back to the community
that meant so much to Sonia and her family.

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Unfortunately Covid-19 intervened, and after much frustrating delay, a social gathering was
finally able to go ahead. Aimed in particular at giving the island’s older residents an
opportunity to relax and socialise in each other’s company, the evening also provided some
delicious locally produced food, and of course a song or two.

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The event was hosted by Michael Black, ably assisted in musical accompaniment by his
nephew Eoghan Scott, and island musicians Sarah Barry and Elisabeth Vogel. Special thanks
are due to Margaret McQuilkin, who did so much of the organising in the background;
Geraldine Anslow and her team of staff and volunteers at the RSPB Seabird Centre who
enthusiastically supported the event from the start; the LIFE Raft team, especially Tania
McFaul and Rauri Morgan for their logistical support; the Manor House, particularly Shauna
and Shannon Cecil for the excellent food and service; Catriona Blaney and McCuaig’s Bar for
providing the refreshments; Derek Curry for bussing people up from the harbour; Michael,
Eoghan, Sarah and Elli for the superb music, and all those who offered up a song over the
evening; and of course all those Rathlin residents who supported the event by their
enthusiastic presence; and last but not least all those who donated in the first place, whose
kindness made the whole event possible. In fact, the generosity of the donations and of the island businesses means that we hope to be able to organise other events in the same spirit in the future.

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All photos by Jen Rusek.

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