Ollie Green was born and raised in Nelson Street, number 13 of 14 children. Taught by ‘the wee nuns’ in Francis Street before attending St. Josephs Secondary School, Ollie continued his education at the age of 15 at Sea College in England eventually joining the Merchant Navy. After 13 years of travelling the world, Ollie returned to Derry in 1994 to marry and start his family, settling in the newly built Fernabbey. Ollie started his own business running a small bus company, which led him to meeting and becoming involved in community groups within Derry. As a response to needs within the community, Ollie was a founding member of the Galliagh Community Development Group.

After a serious incident at a bonfire, there was an outcry from the community for positive alternatives which provided residents with a platform to showcase their community spirit, talents and positive relationships. As an output, the Earhart Festival was born in 1999, beginning life with a different name but the same idea – to provide activities for young people throughout the summer, offer an opportunity for communities to come together and an alternative to negative customs such as bonfires.

Ollie and the team were passionate that after the first festival there was a long-lasting effort within the community to provide a space for these positive activities to continue, and with this came the conception of the Greater Shantallow Community Arts initiative. Their mission was and continues to be ‘to place the arts at the heart of our social, economic and creative life’.  

 

How would you describe yourself? None too wise!

Looking back over your life, what was your favourite funny story about yourself? At 16, I went to Rome with friends and visited a local town. After a night out, and too much vino we attempted to make our way back to base via the train. Of course, the local vino made us nod off and we woke up 600 miles from base in the southern Italian desert. Our ship was due to leave for Japan the next morning, so we knocked these lovely Italians out of their beds and attempted to make our way back to base. After a ride in a tractor, a bus and a 400 mile taxi we made it just as the gangway was about to lift.

What’s your favourite way to relax? Playing snooker with big Andy, Da and Bonehead.

Tell me something people don’t know. I love listening to Opera music, particularly La Travet.

What makes you laugh? Funny things

What makes you angry? Phoniness

What has been the high point of your life so far? The birth of my two sons Conor and Sean.

What has been the low point? The death of my mother last year, my wee ma.

What are your most treasured possessions? My friends, people are what make life worth living.

What has been the best compliment you have ever received? Aw I don’t pay much heed to that stuff but its nice when people are nice. The reality is, no matter what compliments I get, there is a wonderful team behind me and I am lucky and blessed to be surrounded by people who make good things happen.

How would you like to be remembered? As the oldest man who ever lived!

What advice would you have to anyone wanting to get into the arts or community work in Derry? Come and try it, volunteer and see what it’s like is and what we do. There are plenty of initiatives that would appreciate the help so just knock at the door. The arts can raise aspirations and change outlooks so I would encourage you to get involved.

''End of lecture''.