President McAleese and Archbishop Tutu Visit Ballymun Music Programme

23rd February 2009

President Mary McAleese and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu visited St. Joseph’s Senior School Ballymun this week to officially open The Music Room, the first dedicated practice and performance space for the Ballymun Music Programme. The Ballymun Music Programme is an initiative of Dublin Institute of Technology Community Links Programme. Since it started ten years ago, this unique programme has grown to involve children from 7 primary and secondary schools in the area and has about 700 children involved each year.

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Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu with Dr. Martin McAleese
and President, Mary McAleese

The Music Room was designed by Ballymun Regeneration Ltd’s in-house architects to a very high acoustic standard, similar to that of the axis theatre on the Main Street. The new building includes a small coffee kitchen, instrument storage area, individual tuition room and main performance space. A specialised ventilation system minimises break-in noise from the surrounding area and airport. The floor in the main performance space is a "sprung timber dance floor" suitable for both the St Joseph's Wind Band and dance, martial arts, and aerobics. When not in use by the Wind Band, the room is to be made available to any community groups or local societies. A committee is to be set up to manage the allocation of the space.

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Conductor David Brophy and Musical Director Ron Cooney
direct children from the Ballymun Music Programme

Children from the Ballymun Music Programme gave a special performance of ‘A New Day’ for the President and the Archbishop. The piece was written by Ballymun teenagers, Daire Ní Bhroin, Darren Scully and John Wrafter, along with composer, Daragh O’Toole and inspired by the optimism of the young people in Ballymun today. It was conducted by David Brophy, who is also from the Ballymun area.

According to Dr Tommy Cooke, Head of DIT Community Links, the Ballymun Music Programme is a remarkable example of community, higher education and local government working together.

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Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Dr. Tommy Cooke

“On behalf of all the young musicians on the programme, I would like to express our gratitude to BRL who have provided this wonderful Music Room and to the Archdiocese of Dublin for providing the site. Since its inception the Ballymun Music Programme has provided a means for local children to develop their musical talents and in the process to learn many other skills. This professional-standard rehearsal space will be a wonderful resource for the programme and will help us to continue to develop the Community Links vision of working closely with the community and with teachers to help children to reach their fullest creative and educational potential,” said Dr Tommy Cooke.

Ciarán Murray, managing director of Ballymun Regeneration Ltd, said, “We are delighted to welcome the President and Archbishop Tutu to Ballymun. There is a natural link between Ballymun and South Africa’s townships because of the physical, economic and social challenges that they have both experienced. They share a distinct sense of community and pride in their history and culture which has influenced musicians, artists, sportspeople and leaders in both societies,”

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Musical Director Ron Cooney

Under Musical Director Ron Cooney, the Ballymun Music Programme now boasts two junior Wind Bands, a junior String Orchestra and a number of choirs and provides support for secondary school students in Trinity Comprehensive School, Ballymun in preparation for Junior and Leaving Cert Music examinations. It also offers a scholarship programme for exceptionally talented young musicians to attend the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama.

Funding for the Music Programme has been provided by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and DIT, with donations from a range of other supporters including the St. Vincent de Paul Society.


Click here to listen to the story of the Ballymun Music Programme.

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