By Graham Clifford
Music and song possess unique powers to unite. For centuries they have enabled those from different backgrounds to come together carried along on a melodic wave of positivity, inclusivity and togetherness.
So, when someone suggested we start our very own international choir in Fermoy at a recent Together Ireland meeting in the Heron Café, open to all no matter the country they came from originally or their first language, heads started to nod.
The first task was to secure a conductor. Someone who could work with a casual choir of this nature but also understand, consider and appreciate the importance of integration and inclusivity.
Step forward Lisa Dunphy – a local conductor with many years experience and someone who feels passionately that a closer, more cohesive and integrated Ireland will benefit all.
On Monday evening we held our first choir meeting – understandably apprehensive of how the concept would be received in the town.
Around 40 people arrived, all eager and excited to get the choir off the ground and many who couldn’t make it sent texts and emails asking to be part of what should turn out to be a colourful and wonderful addition to the town’s rich musical fabric.
But the backbone to the choir centres on the importance of having fun, integration and getting to know other residents of the town. We won’t be entering competitions but certainly, in time, will be eager to perform whenever and wherever the opportunity arises.
The entire concept has been showered with positivity from the get-go.
Mellerick’s Pharmacy in Fermoy has very kindly offered sponsorship to the choir, while Gaelscoil de hÍde will provide rehearsal space. We are so grateful to both Orla and Seán for their fantastic support and vision.
We’re excited by the possibilities that this choir can present to the town. In one room on Monday we had people from Ireland, Belarus, Lithuania, South Africa, Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands – all eager to come together as one to sing.
And I’ve had messaged from others – from Hungarians, a lady from French Polynesia, Brazilians, Zimbabweans, Croatians, Poles and a South Korean who want to be involved.
With at least 60 different nationalities in Fermoy, our hope is that this choir will accurately reflect that rich diversity – and also sound pretty good too!
So how can you get involved? Well our first rehearsal will be in the hall at Gaelscoil de hÍde in Fermoy next Monday evening at 7.30pm – please come and join us. If you’d like to contact Lisa send a message to 086 3563924 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, a new ‘Social Volleyball’ initiative is starting in the town too – organised by Tim Roche.
Again, to be held at Gaelscoil de hÍde on Thursday evenings, the initiative will see former professional volleyball player Antonio Barros from Portugal put people through their paces.
It will be totally relaxed and inclusive of all regardless of age, gender, ability and so on. It’s a gentle way to keep fit and to meet people from across the world.
For more information contact Tim at email@example.com or on 087 3723463.
And on Monday evening we also got the ball rolling on our Creative Arts Project.
Creative Project manager Grainne O’Connor sought the input of people towards working on a building, structure or something in the public realm in Fermoy that may be the perfect location for some artistic enhancement.
The plan is to work collectively on the selection of the right place, the design and then the actual creative work itself.
You don’t have to be an artist to join – once you can hold a paint brush you’re in!
We want to see people from across the world who have settled in Fermoy work with Irish people on this project injecting any of their ideas, concepts or flavours which will give the finished product that international feel. Something that says this is our town, with all its heritage and diversity.
If you would like to get involved, and we really hope you will, then please contact Grainne at Grainne@grainneoconnor.com.
There are also a few great ideas on the boil in Mitchelstown to enable greater integration and we’ll be working with those living there in the weeks and months to come to try and develop those.
And soon we will be launching our TogetherIreland.ie website and Facebook page, before finalising our Integration Programme which we aim to roll out to 20 towns across Ireland in 2019.
Thank you so much for your support and keep reading the ‘Our New Irish Home’ series here in The Avondhu, to learn about those living in our community who have come from further afield.
If you would like to contact us please email firstname.lastname@example.org