In Pictures: Limerick Student Creative Center Produces CD – Page 1 of 13

WITH an energetic outburst of music, song and dance, students from Scoil Mhuire agus Ide, Newcastle West, brought a spirited end to two long years without live performances.

And they did it in the early spring sunshine when they launched their 15-track CD, Dóchas, at a mini outdoor concert at school.

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The idea behind the CD was exactly that, giving an outlet for student creativity, explained music teacher Ellen Collins, who along with fellow music teacher Jamie Herlihy nurtured the idea from its inception until at its final launch.

“We came back in September after two years of Covid where students hadn’t had a chance to perform,” she explained. “SMI’s creative spirit was suffering.”

But at this point performance was still limited and a CD offered the safest option.

“We decided to record. It was a mix of everything and everyone, from first to sixth graders. It was a lot of fun. They loved it.”

“This project was started to give voice to the wonderful talent of our students and to rekindle music and performance in our school community,” said school principal Seán Lane.

“Experiencing a pandemic has brought a lot of changes to our lives,” he continued. Restrictions mean that groups of people cannot come together to create art. The choirs were silent, the performers were left without an audience, he said, but the music and dancing continued to comfort, entertain and lift the spirits of many and many took to social media.

SMI, Mr Lane continued, was one of the schools to receive a €4,000 grant to promote the arts in the school as part of the Creative Schools initiative. Creative Schools is a flagship initiative of the Creative Ireland program aimed at enabling the creative potential of every child and is led by the Arts Council in partnership with the Department of Education and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media.

Officially launching the CD, Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan said it was great to be back at his own school, but he expressed sympathy for the impact of the pandemic on young people in particular .

“We have been separated for too long. The arts were sidelined and this especially started to wear on the young people as we were unable to allow people to celebrate, dance, sing and recite.

It was, he continued, important to celebrate creativity and to do so “in our own community as well” and praised the tremendous work that had gone into creating the CD. He also talked about the bonds that students form at school. “The young men and women you meet here are the people you will rely on for the rest of your life,” he said.

“These are literally the best days of your life.”

The CD, priced at €10, is on sale in shops in Newcastle West with all proceeds going to the local Lions Club.

“We are very grateful to SMI for all of their support over the years,” said Lions Club member Helen Beckett. Pupils from the school regularly take part in the club’s Christmas concert, she said, and the money from the CD will be used to help those in need in the community.

“There are a lot of needs,” she said, adding that 85 families were supported last Christmas.

Jack L. Goldstein