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Journey through the ritual of lament and caoineadh

Journey through the ritual of lament and caoineadh
Image credit: Sean Doran 

Journey through the ritual of lament and caoineadh is a project facilitated by Michelle Collins, exploring loss, grief, reflection and remembrance through a series of workshops and development of sound pieces with residents of Marymount University Hospital and Hospice.  

The project is conducted in three phases including engagement workshops, active listening activities and reflective workshops, with each phase delving deeper into practices of lament and keening in distinct ways.  

Phase one workshops stimulate, educate and engage with participants, learning about keening and lament traditions while making space to share, story-tell and reminisce on rituals of loss, while also allowing space to remember past experiences.  

Phase two listening activity consists of the creation of three sound pieces responding to phrases, memories, and meaningful themes and songs that emerged in prior workshops. Participants are drawn into a deeper listening practice, creating space to experience the sounds of keening, and its potential impact on the body. 

Phase three workshops provide a space for reflection on the experience of listening, further opening conversations on loss and grief, and gently moving toward sounding this loss and grief through the framework of lament and keening.  

Invitation to Listen

This piece is inspired by conversations with participants where themes of nature, the seasons, acceptance and gratitude emerged. The piece incorporates songs residents mentioned were meaningful and evoked memories. Participants are invited to listen deeply, learning to notice how the body responds to different sounds and songs.  


Song credits
Tulips from Amsterdam, Max Bygraves 
Lili Marlene, Anne Shelton 
The Little Shirt my Mother Made for Me, Johnny Barfield 

Journey through practices of keening

The second sound piece draws participants into a listening experience of some archival recordings of sean-nós singing and the caoineadh. Continuing the theme of the seasons, focussing on winter, loss and darkness, the piece makes the space for participants to go deeper into the experience of keening sounds, opening up space for reflection on the impact and potential of this sounding tradition. 


Song credits
Arnalds: Epilogue, Ólafur Arnalds 
Caoineadh na Marbh, Bridget Mullin 
Keen for a Dead Child, Kitty Gallagher 
Rocks of Bawn, Joe Heaney 

Sounding Loss


With thanks also to Cork County Council Library and Arts Service.