Community project in Cork unites generations in melody

A colourful community project which draws children and older people together in a musical celebration continues today in West Cork.

Pupils of Rath National School, Baltimore with Liz Clarke, Paula K O'Brien, teachers Maeve O'Sullivan and Suzy McCarthy. Pic: Anne Minihane.

A colourful community project which draws children and older people together in a musical celebration continues today in West Cork.

Under The Starling Song Project, a series of highly original melodies were composed in collaboration with elderly people between the ages of 75 and 105 in the last five years.

The songs were composed by the residents of community hospitals and daycare centres around West Cork in collaboration with singer-songwriter Liz Clark. They are now being performed with local schoolchildren during a special tour of day care centres in the region.

The songs, which look back at the dance-hall era and other traditions of long ago, also offer words of wisdom to young people. The melodies have given the tour its name — the Advice to a Younger Generation Tour.

Clark is supported by local musicians Deirdre Archbold, Paula O’Brien, and Christine Deady during the tour whose latest stop, today, is the Day Care Centre at Mount Carmel Community Hospital in Clonakilty, where the event will be attended by pupils from the town’s Scoil na mBuachilli.

The tour moves to the Day Care Centre in Bantry on Wednesday next.

Over the coming weeks it will visit day care centres in Castletownbere and Dunmanway. The event took place in Skibbereen before Christmas.

The project, which is spearheaded by Ms Clark, a musician and songwriter based in Baltimore, has been running since 2012 as part of the Arts for Health Partnership Programme under the HSE in conjunction with a number of bodies including the Arts Council and the West Cork Arts Centre.

Ms Clark, a native of Colorado in the US who moved to Ireland 10 years ago, said: “As part of my work with the Arts for Health Programme, I came up with the idea to collect stories and write songs in conjunction with older residents in the community hospitals around West Cork.

“The residents all took the time to tell me about their lives and about the past. We wrote the songs together.

“We are now starting to take these songs out of the hospital environment and bring them into the wider world.

“We wanted to link up the generations so we are going into the day care centres and students are coming from the local schools to sing along.”

The name of the project was inspired by “the murmurations of starlings”.

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