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This project among older Irish people in the UK caught my eye Dementia and Music | Comhaltas in Britain.
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (to give it its proper name) is an Irish based organisation with international branches that promotes Irish traditional music. It puts on grass roots sessions in local communities, trains young musicians and organises touring parties of musicians from Ireland around the world.
As a young child the Comhaltas tour of Britain meant a night out in the then packed Irish centre. There was the stress of getting ready; seeing my parents getting into their Sunday best (which has become less formal over the years) and my Mum never being able to find the shoes she wanted.
I would be wearing scratchy formal wear listening to Irish comedian / MC, mournful sean-nós singing and the lively céilí music with the occasional puirt à beul accompaniment.
A YouTube video with classic Irish tunes like these take me back playing records on my Granny’s turntable as a child; or my Uncle, Granny and I dancing like dervishes around the Marley tiled farmhouse floor as we whooped and clapped.
So the fit with Comhaltas and dementia made a lot of sense given the long term memories that would be likely accessed. And its amazing that something like this is specifically developed for the Irish community in the twilight of their years. Other organisations have looked to build something similar, such as Boots’ multi-sensory box. But this lacked the same degree of cultural relevance.
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