Elayne completed her 'doc-on-one' documentary "A song for Kathleen" which aired on RTE Radio 1 at 2pm on Saturday 26th July (and repeated 7pm on Sunday 7th August). Kathleen was the inspiration for The Forget-Me-Nots and this documentary follows her story and the formation and early days of the choir.
A Song for Kathleen
Just over a year ago, eighty seven year old Kathleen Tierney was released from hospital having spent the previous six months overcoming sudden weight loss. Kathleen had been diagnosed with Alzheimers in January 2013 and had suffered two serious falls at her home in Kilbarrack. Despite family and home care support, it was looking increasingly likely that Kathleen would have to go into a nursing home which she did not want to do.
Her children, many of whom live locally, were determined to try and help her stay in her own home. Aside from arranging twenty four hour care for Kathleen, one of her daughters, Orla, took a more unusual route and set up a choir, The Forget Me Nots, specifically for people with dementia and Alzheimers. Inspired by a similar choir on Dublin's southside, Orla established the choir in their local community of Baldoyle.
During the documentary, we hear some of the wonderful voices that sing in the choir, we hear stories of how people with dementia who might be unresponsive day to day, can suddenly recall the words to songs they heard as a child or were taught in school. Grainne, the choral director tells us about the therapeutic effect that music can have.
What has surprised those involved, is just how well, Kathleen and the others are doing since they have started to attend the choir. Singing nostalgic songs, chosen by the choir members, the room is filled with beautiful voices singing old time melodies and songs from well-known musicals.
We also meet Frankie, Kathleen's 10 year grandson who is a regular visitor to his grandmother at her home. Like his granny, mother, Karen, and Aunty, Orla, Frankie is very musical, he occasionally attends the choir and is learning to play the trumpet, much to his granny's delight!
Kathleen thoroughly enjoys the choir, her mood has lifted, her health has improved and she is back living at home. Every Tuesday, she and her friends and family go along to practice in Baldoyle Community Hall to sing songs of yesteryear.
Narrated and produced by Elayne Devlin
Production Supervision by Sarah Blake
First Broadcast 26th July 2014
This powerful and stirring poem "Singing Together" was written by a lady called Mary Brady who was a member of The Dalkey Active Retired Choir until her death last summer. Jimmy O’Byrne was the Musical Director of the choir at the time and he received kind permission from Mary’s family to allow us share this poem. Along with other choirs, Jimmy is the Musical Director of The CanBelto Ladies Choir in Baldoyle which includes member volunteers who participate and support The Forget-Me-Nots Choir each week. Mary’s poem speaks volumes about the creative power, personal enrichment and social inclusion being in a choir can bring no matter who you are, where you come from or what age you are! We want to say a BIG THANK YOU to Mary’s family for letting us share this, to Jimmy O’Byrne who works tirelessly with the choirs he directs, and to The Dalkey Active Retirement Choir for helping facilitate this. We expect everyone to be as moved and inspired by this beautiful poem as we are!
IRISH SCHOOL SONGS (as Gaeilge) MUSIC SHEETS FOR PIANO
Do you have scoresheets you could share with us (or know where we can source them) for the following songs?
An Poc Ar Buile
Beidh Aonach Amárach
Dilín Ó Deamhas
Óró Sé Do Bheatha Bhaile
Or maybe other Irish childhood songs you think our choir would love to sing! If so, please contact us. Thank You!
Are you a musician who can play a supporting instrument while The Forget-Me-Nots sing along to their favourite nostalgic tunes such as Que Sera Sera, Báidín Fheilimidh and Daisy Daisy? Are you free any Tuesday morning from 11am to 12.30pm to meet in Baldoyle Community Hall (beside the old church on the coast)?
You would be most welcome to come along and join in the fun! Contact us if you are interested in being part of this amazing choir even on an infrequent basis.
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH - BRAIN AGING
We are seeking professional involvement by a Medical Researcher university student in the area of Music and Dementia. Our volunteers will help gather and collate the anecdotal findings from family members and caregivers to evaluate the impact on them of their participation in the choir and the importance of its inclusiveness.
We would welcome university direction on specific research we could help to gather in support of ongoing research on Brain Aging. Please contact us if you are a University student in this field and interested in getting involved.