Cork County Council’s Library and Arts Service will collaborate with West Cork artist Michelle Collins and Marymount University Hospital & Hospice on a series of remote workshops entitled A journey through the ritual of lament & caoineadh. This scheme was created in partnership with the Creative Ireland programme to inspire and support creative responses and reflection on loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. Inspired by age-old rituals in Ireland, this project creates a space to reflect, share and explore these traditions and how they may be shaped to support us today.
From her studio in Norway, artist Michelle Collins will be remotely facilitating workshops for residents in Marymount’s Service for Older People between March and May this year. Participating residents will be provided with a considered, delicate approach to exploring loss, grief, reflection and remembrance through the framework of the lament and keening tradition. This project will support the older person’s natural ability to explore, story-tell and reminisce on their traditions and heritage. Marymount University Hospital & Hospice provides inpatient and community specialist palliative care together with a continuing care and respite service for older people. This Seed Grant project will support the residents who receive continuing care in the Service for Older People.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Mary Linehan Foley, welcomed the initiative, saying,
“This project celebrates the wisdom of our older people and considers how we can all get through this difficult time by sensitively and gently acknowledging loss while celebrating our heritage. Cork County Council is delighted to support Michelle Collins and to continue our long-standing partnerships with both Marymount University Hospital & Hospice and Creative Ireland. I would encourage anyone looking for creative outlets or supports at this time to see what Cork County Council’s Library and Arts services have on offer. Visit www.corkcoco.ie or find them on Facebook and Twitter.”
Keening, or caoineadh as it called in Irish, was a funerary tradition consisting of improvised laments sung by mná caointe, keening women, at wakes and funerals from pre-Christian times until circa 1950 in Ireland. It took place at times of disruption of the social order and times of great change. This project will take participants on a journey of understanding and discussion of traditions that have existed, and continue to exist, that support communities dealing with great change. Keening not only expressed loss, grief and anger, but also celebrated the life and the community. More broadly, the participants will consider how songs and music (especially traditional Irish songs and tunes), can support us in dealing with difficult experiences.
Since 2011, Michelle Collins’ research interests have focused on traditional art practices and how they may be adapted and used to support healthful lives today. Michelle holds a Masters in Traditional Arts and a Masters in Social Anthropology (with a special emphasis on the anthropology of sound). She is currently undertaking a PhD in Cultural Studies at the department of Traditional Arts, University of South-Eastern Norway. Her PhD research traces the experiences and impact of contemporary keening, while continuing to develop sound art practices as a methodological tool for understanding keening experiences.
Image Credit: Michelle Collins
For more information on the Seed Grant Scheme, please refer to: