Open door music sessions hit right note

June 19th, 2018 7:10 AM

By Southern Star Team

Sean Holland and Peter Carney getting their ‘jam on' at an open door music morning at 49 North Street, Skibbereen.

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Skibbereen’s 49 North Street, a hub that promotes creativity and well-being, is running open door, drop-in monthly music sessions that are going down a storm with people from all walks of life. Pop-up Irish classes will also take place there next month welcoming people of all abilities



OPEN door, drop-in music sessions running in a Skibbereen centre, set up to provide a space for well-being and creativity, are proving a huge hit. 

The music sessions are held on the first Friday of the month at 49 North Street, a space funded by the HSE offering cultural activities delivered by the West Cork Mental Health Service (WCMH).

The WCMH are at the forefront of a changing practice in healthcare delivery by their recognition and support of the many creative paths that people can take in order to find their way through their mental health difficulties and towards recovery.

Kevin O’ Shanahan, Clinical Nurse Specialist in mental health and the arts for the Cork Mental Health services and his team drew the inspiration for the sessions from an older way of life in rural Ireland where people rambled into houses and played music by the hearthside. 

This ethos remains at the heart of activities offered by the centre at Number 49 which is funded by the HSE. The creative programmes are also supported by Cork Education and  Training Board.

Kevin explained: ‘Tar isteach, come in: everyone is welcome to attend whether or not you are a musician or a singer or just want to hear some live music to energise your day. We’ve made a space here so that people can do just that.’

A musician himself, he said he always liked the way folk musician Pete Seegar used to just show up in various locations and begin playing and singing.

The musician and activist passed away in 2014 and was playing music throughout his life and well into his 90’s. At one point Pete famously said: ‘I believe in the power of the song’. He’s the talent behind such legendary tunes such as ‘Where have all the flowers gone’ and ‘Turn Turn Turn’.

The power of the song in West Cork is alive and well locally with many who just love to sing and play. Among them is Sean Holland who treats the 49 North Street assemblies to his virtuoso accordion playing.

Other musicians regularly drop into the informal sessions to accompany the singers like bass player Peter Carney, guitarists Tony Cotter and Gerry Touhy.

The ad-hoc sessions just evolve based on what people enjoy playing and singing along to. Even if you don’t play or sing all musicians love an audience and everyone is welcome to come along to the monthly Friday sessions from 11am to noon. 

Meanwhile, evocative words by Ballyvourney poet Sean Ó Riordain  are etched on the recently commissioned mural created by Kevin O’ Brien and Alan Hurley located in the yard at the back of number 49.

It reads: ‘Ta Tír nÓg ar chul an tí. Tír álainn, trína chéile’ which translates as ‘Behind the house is the land of youth, a beautiful land amongst us’

Kevin explained: ‘The idea to use Ó Ríordián’s words was put forward by Ned Kelly, our Director of Nursing for Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, and it sums up exactly what 49 North Street is all about –offering a beautiful and creative space towards recovery through artistic and cultural activity.’ 

Meanwhile, every Tuesday morning from 11am to noon from Tuesday July 17th  there is also a pop-up Gaeltacht. Anybody interested in the Irish language and who may not have had much chance to use it since their school days are welcome to pop in, with participants of all levels- from zero to fluent.

For further information on either sessions, contact  [email protected]

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