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“Each day I sit by the window sill. Sitting and watching the garden ghost. His face isn’t there. His fingers aren’t there. Only a cloak and a hat are him as he stands in the garden in Spring. I won’t go outside with a ghost out there! I’ll stay in here ‘til the ghost is gone!”

Inspired by Sinead Crossan and the students of Ardnashee School in Derry/Londonderry, composer Conor Mitchell has written a story based on the children’s experiences of lockdown. In a vivid, cinematic score featuring voice (Abigail McGibbon), soprano (Rebecca Murphy), clarinet (Sarah Smith), oboe (Chris Blake), trombone (Ross Lyness) and harp (Tanya Houghton), he tells the tale of a little girl sitting by a windowsill, watching a caterpillar transform into a butterfly, but wary and scared of the ghost wandering the garden.

In a beautifully illustrated short, drawings from Ardnashee’s pupils have been animated by concept artist Chris Thompson to depict the public’s entering of a new, post-lockdown phase, as the butterfly flies past the ghost, unharmed, and the little girl feels safe to go out into her garden, the ghost receding from view.

“All that was left was a beautiful glittering dot in the sky; a thousand colours but only one. And me, outside and looking towards the sky.”

‘The Garden, Ghost and the Butterfly’ was included in the weekly recommended listening guide in The Observer. Click here to read.
Watch ‘The Garden, Ghost and the Butterfly’ on our YouTube channel from 5.30pm on 18th September.  This premiere is being released as part of Culture Night Online events for 2020. For information about Northern Ireland Opera’s outreach projects click here .


Abigail McGibbon
Rebecca Murphy
Sarah Smith
Chris Blake
Ross Lyness
Tanya Houghton

Creative Team

Conor Mitchell
Chris Thompson
Kate Guelke
Ardnashee School
Ardnashee Special School
Culture Night Online 2020