//First Irish World Music Café opens in Limerick

First Irish World Music Café opens in Limerick

By Lylian Fotabong
Many people can tell you that the two things that a community values most are exclusively the library and camaraderie, but few can illustrate that a combination of music-making proposals helps people find points of entry into new social communities.
This was mirrored at the opening of Irish World Music Café at the Central Buildings Community Café & Gallery in Limerick City on Thursday.
Group Pic 1
Fig 1: Community musicians from all over the world open the First Irish World Music Cafe in Limerick, Led by Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Professor Helen Phalen, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick
Photo by: Lylian Fotabong
The event was organised by the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance (The Academy) at the University of Limerick (UL), and in association with the migrant support organisation, Doras Luimni, and funded by the Irish Research Council.
Community singers from around the world demonstrated strong, powerful and on-point performances, which Founding Director and Chair of Music at The Academy in UL, Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, described as “leaving the front door always open”.
Passers-by 2
Fig 2: Passers by stop to catch a glimpse of first Irish World Music Cafe, Thursday, in Limerick City
Photo by: Lylian Fotabong
“You could put up posters all over the City, but it is not as successful as exciting people’s curiosity – we saw people stopping, they were passing by but stopped to look at what was going on inside, they could see the joy and the sharing of the music and the high morale in a way. That was very exciting,” the Professor said.


Fig 3: Motorists and pedestrians come to a standstill on Limerick’s O’Connell St as temperatures soar on a sunny June Thursday
Photo by: Lylian Fotabong 
The Irish World Music Café was launched as part of a new research project by the Irish Research Council and tagged, Singing and Sustainable Social Integration, with the aim to illustrate the ‘positive role that singing and making music can play in the process of social integration’.
Prof Phalen
Fig 4: Programme Director, PhD Arts Practice at The Academy in UL, Professor Helen Phelan lead the Congolese Rumba at the first Irish World Music Cafe in Limerick
Photo by: Lylian Fotabong
According to the project coordinator, Programme Director, PhD Arts Practice at The Academy in UL, Professor Helen Phelan, a combination of social singing, diversity singing and educational singing provide maximum access to opportunities for integration for people from different parts of the world who have come to make their home in Ireland.
Professor Phelan said: “When people come to a new country, of course physical needs like food and accommodation are priorities. But we all also have emotional needs – we need to be able to mourn our losses and celebrate our joys. We need to feel as part of a community.
“Lots of research shows us that singing and music-making can help with these things. Our project is researching how we might develop sustainable models of welcome and integration through music. The Irish World Music Café will hopefully be one of those spaces.”
Laura Enns
Fig 5: MA Student, Community Music
at The Academy, UL, Laura Enns
Photo by Lylian Fotabong
This view was echoed by MA Student in Community Music at UL, Laura Enns, who facilitated a series of community music workshops as part of her placement, and for this record event.
Ms Enns worked with asylum-seekers, refugees and other new comers in Limerick and it resulted in the release, Thursday, of an original song titled: Music in the Moment.
The MA student said the aim of the project was to facilitate fun, accessible, and participatory music-making activities for newcomers that would help them to strengthen their identities, build relationships and trust within the community, and find joy and meaning in a new context. 
She added that: “Many people in the workshop wouldn’t have even considered themselves to be musicians or ever picked up an instrument, but they put a lot of faith in the creative process and we were able to write a song together as a group over a four or five-week period.
“I had hoped that, not only would we build relationships within the group, we will also be able to extend it to the community and I think that this happened on Thursday; it wasn’t just the newcomers, it was everybody coming together.”
One of the participants of the workshop was Zimbabwean born, Felix Dzamara. He arrived in Ireland three years ago and was recently granted refugee status to remain in Ireland.
Felix Dzamara
Fig 6: Music workshop participant & musician
Zimbabwean, Felix Nzamara
Photo by: Lylian Fotabong
Mr Dzamara said: “For three years, I was idle in the hostel, I had nowhere to go to and very little to do, but the music workshop came along and helped me to meet, sing and integrate with people of different cultures, and on Thursday, we were able to showcase our singing talent through our first music single.”
The Zimbabwean born added that: “This gives me a sense of belonging that, well, I now belong in Limerick; I am now a part and parcel of Limerick and we are contributing some form of entertainment in Limerick.”
Other participants said the event was, “like walking into part of the family”; “different cultures of life coming together” while another said, it was like different people from different countries all listening to everyone.”
The music café featured a variety of multi-genre artists and began with a taste of traditional Irish music and moved to American, Canadian, Venezuelan and Palestinian, to name but a few, before it climaxed and ended with the special appearance of one of Ireland’s longest running, newly reinvented and electrifying bands, Elikya.
MA Students
Fig 7: MA Students at The Academy, UL, wow audience with world music at first Irish World Music Cafe, Limerick. Also in the photo: Musician, singer & composer; tutor, lecturer and researcher in Irish Song Studies at The Academy, UL, Roisin Ni Ghalloglaigh
Photo by; Lylian Fotabong
The music café gave audiences an undeniable perfect celebratory summer gift as temperatures soared both inside and outside in double figures. No doubt the handclasps were head far and wide and made many motorists and pedestrians to come to a standstill in Limerick’s O’Connell St, and in anticipation for what will come in the autumn. 
Group Pic 2
Fig 8: Special guest performers, Elikya brings the audience to their feet during the first Irish World Music Cafe at the Central Buildings Community Café & Gallery in Limerick City on Thursday
Photo by: Lylian Fotabong