By Aisling Meath
LISHEENS House’s Education and Training Centre at Ilen Street in Skibbereen officially opened its new music library recently.
The opening was the final chapter in the story of a lifelong friendship between Karen Billing, arts coordinator at the centre, and John Gibson, a jazz musician from Hastings in the UK. John, who died last year, had bequeathed the extensive classical and jazz CD collection to Karen.
The two had been corresponding by letter since 1969 and when she received the collection, it came with meticulous records and filing systems of each and every disc. Karen donated the entire collection to Lisheens House, and the music library was born.
‘John once told me that listening to music is about maintaining a sense of wonder, it’s a key to a lock. By making his lifetime collection accessible, I really hope that it will serve to lift the spirits and bring joy to the listener,’ explained Karen.
An oasis of peace and tranquility, the library is housed in a space that resembles a lovely parlour with beautifully textured wallpaper, comfortable armchairs, carefully chosen lighting, and an elegant fireplace. There are listening posts with headphones to enjoy the extensive collection of over 2000 classical and jazz cds.
‘We are starting to collect other categories of music as well,’ said Karen, ‘so there will be something for everybody.’
It’s a free service and open to all, pointed out Mick Kearns, a director of Lisheens House.
‘We want to invite everybody to come and use the library,’ Mick told The Southern Star. ‘It’s a place for people to chill out, it’s free, and everybody is welcome. We are tapping into the healing power of music and would like to see everybody enjoy what we have to offer here,’ he says.
A special guest on the day was Mary Madison, well-known storyteller, artist and healer, who travelled over from Eyeries to entertain with her art of storytelling. ‘I read about Lisheens House and thought that it was such a wonderful place, so I rang them up wanting to be involved,’ said Mary who runs a traditional ‘rambling house’ in Eyeries with guest Teddy Black, every first Monday of the month.
Plans are afoot to develop the music library further, and it is a lovely place to have in Skibbereen where one can steal some time from a day to relax, make a cup of tea and let all worry drift away, listening to soothing music of your choice.
‘We want to get the message across that this is a community resource,’ said Mick, ‘and we hope that everyone will feel welcome to use it.’