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Funding awarded to 27 projects creatively exploring dying, death, and bereavement

4 min read

Funding awarded to 27 projects creatively exploring dying, death, and bereavement

4 min read


Funding awarded to 27 projects creatively exploring dying, death, and bereavement

Funding has been awarded to 27 Seed Grant projects by the Irish Hospice Foundation to support the creative exploration of dying, death, and bereavement.

An extraordinary creative reflection of the impact of the pandemic on all communities, the projects are supported by the Creative Ireland Programme.

Since the announcement of Seeds Grants availability in October 2021, Irish Hospice Foundation received 91 applications to support people and communities in their creative exploration of grief and loss. This is the second round of funding that has been made available for such projects this year.

The 27 chosen recipients, representing 11 counties in total, reflect an eclectic range of work, practice, medium, approach, abilities, and age groups. They include acute hospitals, residential care homes, nursing homes, secondary schools, community groups, migrating populations, and the marginalised.

The themes and areas to be touched on explore all areas of death and grief from life limiting illnesses and early years bereavement, to suicide and our funeral and burial customs. The memorialising and processing of grief will be reflected in the projects through the use of photography, creative and documentary filmmaking, glass fusions, storytelling, stage plays, poetry, translations, audio recordings, memorabilia, music, poetry, and the more traditional arts, such as painting, quilting, and knitting.

Arts and Cultural Engagement Officer at IHF Dominic Campbell says: “As the long-term impact of Covid continues, the creative resilience of individuals and communities becomes more profound. Each initiative is extraordinary. A demonstration of care and empathy. A public health service and an emotional marriage of culture and care.”

Projects will develop from December 2021 until April 2022 in Dublin (10), Cavan (1), Galway (2), Leitrim (1), Louth (1), Mayo (2), Offaly (1), Sligo (1), Tipperary (4), Waterford (1), Heir Island, West Cork (1), Wexford (1), Wicklow (1).


IHF Seed Grant 2021 – 2022 Recipients

St. Michael’s House Day Service in Glasnevin / Claire Barry (Dublin)

Memorial Garden with Mosaic Installations

St. Michael’s House Day Centre in Glasnevin caters for the needs of 40 adults with disabilities. The team will support these service-users, many of whom have recently experienced the loss of friends, to create mosaics for a memorial garden. The process of creating these artistic pieces will in itself be therapeutic, enabling people to come together and focus on producing a piece of work. Once completed, this garden will act as a reflection retreat for staff and service-users.


Steve Blount (Wicklow) Tonic

Award winning, critically celebrated writer and actor Steve Blount from Wicklow will write a stage play based on a journey in and around the corridors of a hospice through the eyes, ears, clinks, and blinks of a drinks trolley chauffeur.


Alan James Burns (Cavan) The Walls

Cavan based audio-visual artist and acclaimed cultural events producer, Alan James Burns, will script a lament examining themes of loss, climate change, and environmental grief explored through Cloughoughter Castle in the Cavan Lakelands. His project will be developed through community research and consultation with a climate expert and writer.


Eric Clarke (Dublin) Final Resting Place Choices

Dubliner Eric Clarke will utilise his MSc in Loss and Bereavement and life-long passion for photography to document, through contributed photography and stories, our choices for internment and disposal of the dead.


Marian Clarke & Talitha Kay (Dublin) Living while Dying with Pain

Marian Clarke and Talitha Kay will lead an exploration of the experiences of loss, grief, and resilience among two hidden communities in Ireland. Five female refugees and five women living with chronic pain will be invited to explore their experiences through photography, drawing, and poetry. We hope the project will share with the public hidden losses, grief, and strength through an exhibition of artwork chronicling their journey together.


Eamon Clery (Dublin) Coffin Over the Bridge

Eamon Clery is an experienced cameraman and freelance editor living in Ringsend, Dublin 4, who works in broadcast television. Eamon plans to produce a timeless documentary on Ringsend’s decades old tradition of families arranging for a deceased relative’s coffin to be carried over Ringsend Bridge from Bridge Street / Pearse Street into St Patrick’s Church in Ringsend village for a funeral service.


Anna Cosgrave (Heir Island, West Cork) Méala Circle Heir Island

Death Douala apprentice, Anna Cosgrave, will host Méala Circle Inis Uí Drisceoil on Heir Island in West Cork.  The event will engage islanders on mortality and memorialisation and include local historians, poets and speakers from Skibbereen Hospital focusing on the theme “Ba mhéala a bhás / his death was to be lamented” and the creation of a poem that will later be put to music.


Sasha De Buyl (Galway) Good Grief: Reflections on Loss

As part of the annual Cúirt International Festival of Literature in Galway next year, Sasha De Buyl will curate an event involving a range of artists willing to publicly share their personal experiences and artistic responses to grieving and loss, including contemporary composer Ailís Ní Riain and spoken word Poet Michael Pedersen.

Neva Elliot (Dublin) The Last Door My Father Walked Through

Neva Elliott is a contemporary artist based in Dublin. As part of her ongoing artistic work exploring loss and grief, Neva intends to create and exhibit a series of photographs with accompanying text based on the death by suicide of her father, who had bipolar disorder, during lockdown.


Catherine Fanning (Sligo) The Story of Flowers

Sligo artist Catherine Fanning will make a handmade journal filled with original artwork. Inspiration for her work will come from images and meanings associated with flowers that carry cultural meanings surrounding the death of a loved one. The book will be filmed for wider sharing as a digital object.


Margaret Galvin (Wexford) Creative Writing in Grief Support

Creative writing facilitator and published poet with an academic background in Social Care, Margaret Galvin will develop a workshop programme and tools for persons providing bereavement support whether as counsellors or volunteers. The ambition is to equip therapists and volunteers with creative writing skills as a practical and proven valuable intervention suitable for bereaved people.


Children’s Health Ireland / Mary Grehan (Dublin) Remembering (in a Time of Change)

As Curator of the Arts in Health Programme of Children’s Health Ireland (CHI), Mary Grehan will work closely with artist Marie Brett exploring ways to make a space for grief, loss, and remembering within the built environment of the new Dublin children’s hospital.

Marie will make a podcast based on interviews with key stakeholders, with particular perspectives on the experiences of child loss. It will in turn form part of a brief to CHI to create a dedicated space in the new hospital that says to anyone affected: ‘your child is not forgotten’.


Annie Hogg (Tipperary) Messages to the River

Visual artist Annie Hogg draws on the employment of nature and the elements to assist with grief and bereavement. From Shetland’s Viking tradition of Up Helly Aa to the floating of Chinese lanterns, fire and water have long been used to connect private grief in collective moments. Crossing a river or transformation by fire is a resonant metaphor for the unknown journey of the soul. With her grant, Annie will create fiery coracles to carry messages of loss and prayer.


St Louis High School / Clíona McDonough & Miriam Kehoe (Dublin) Reflections

School Principal, Clíona McDonough, and Arts Co-Ordinator, Miriam Kehoe, of St Louis High School in Rathmines, Dublin 6, will lead a multi-discipline art and musical project enabling the students, staff, and school community to come to terms with their collective pandemic experience. The project will culminate with an exhibition of artwork and a series of concerts.


Deise Woman’s Shed / Mary Kelly (Waterford) Blankets of Hope 

Mary Kelly, along with the Deise Woman’s Shed in Waterford, will knit and crochet an array of blankets and shawls for people of all ages facing life-limiting conditions like cancer, dementia, and Parkinson’s, who are receiving treatment at Waterford University Hospital and Dungarvan Community Hospital.


Eileen Kennedy (Tipperary) Children’s Bereavement / Grief Support Programme

Representing the voluntary group Suir Haven Cancer Support Centre in North Tipperary, Eileen Kennedy will lead the way in designing, developing, and training facilitators to run an arts and crafts programme to support children dealing with a parent’s cancer diagnosis and their end of life.  

St James’s Hospital / Bettina Korn (Dublin) Memory Making

Bettina Korn, an End-of-Life Care Coordinator with the Hospice Friendly Hospital Programme at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin, will run a series of creative art workshops to facilitate the hospital’s care staff as they recall their experiences of caring for terminally ill patients during the pandemic. The aim is to create a series of collages reflecting their collective memories. These will then be displayed near the Camino Rest, a non-denominational place of sanctuary within the hospital, where daily Reflective Services were held by staff to commemorate lost patients.


Jacqui Lynskey (Galway) Creative Reflections

Jacqui Lynskey and her team at COPE Galway, which provides homelessness, domestic abuse, and senior support services, will run a series of projects to allow older people time to reflect upon and discuss how they managed bereavement, first as children and then as adults. They will also create two art pieces – one they feel might have helped their younger selves cope with loss and another they would have liked to have been able to give to a deceased loved one.


Latwest Association / Noel Lyons (Mayo) A Fond Goodbye

Noel Lyons, and other members of the Latwest Association, will collate, record, and publish a collection of English, Latvian, and Irish poetry and lyrics, to commemorate loss of home through immigration, especially during the pandemic. The Latwest Association is a voluntary group based in Claremorris, Co Mayo, which supports Eastern Europeans living in the local community. Some of the poems will also be set to music and the book will be illustrated by Skarleta Mukane, a Latvian artist living in Mayo.


St Joseph’s Nursing Home / Vicky McGauley (Louth) Art and Creative Space

Vicky McGauley will engage with the residents, visitors, and staff of St Joseph’s Nursing Home in Ardee, Co Louth, in the creation of a mural to enhance a room designated as a quiet space for anyone in need of time out for reflection. It will incorporate elements of mindfulness and colour to enrich emotional well-being, psychological functioning, cognition, and social relationships.


Maria Noonan-McDermott (Leitrim) ‘Time-Lapse’ Exhibition

Over the last five years while caring for her mother who was living with Alzheimer’s, Leitrim based artist Maria has been “unwittingly working towards” her exhibition Time-Lapse. The daily tasks, complex emotions, and thoughts arising while caring for a dying parent over a long time inform all the work in this exhibition. For example, the complex extended grief of Alzheimer’s with its untethering of time and tiredness, and the archaeological uncovering of the entire life of a parent that arrives with their death. All this and more – much more – will be reflected through Maria’s painting, poetry, and installation.


Michelle O’Donnell (Offaly) Remembering Tree

Glassmaker Michelle O’Donnell of Glasshammer Studios in Rhode, Co Offaly, will offer her local community the opportunity to make a coloured fused glass leaf in memory of a loved one lost to Covid-19. The leaves will then be hung on a community ‘Remembering Tree’ for a commemorative gathering in December 2021. After this, each precious glass leaf will be taken and re-hung on each person’s own home Christmas tree.


Newport Women’s Shed / Shoyna O’Gorman (Tipperary) Patchwork Quilt

Sharon O’Gorman and the ladies of Newport Women’s Shed in Tipperary will meet on Monday evenings to create a Queen-Size Patchwork Quilt. Each square will be a dedicated reflection on the loss of a lost loved one. Guided by an experienced quilter, each member will create their own unique piece which, when assembled into the collective whole, will be a metaphor for the role of the group in the lives of these Tipperary women.


Mirjana Rendulic (Dublin) Death of a Star

Mirjana Rendulic, a Croatian-born national now long living in Ireland, will collaborate with other musicians to create a soundtrack for her film ‘Death of a Star’, made in response to the sudden death of her father in Croatia during the pandemic. Mirjana’s inspiration comes from her last visit to Croatia before her father died. While there, her father kept inviting Mirjana to play something for him but she refused, insisting she wasn’t good enough yet.


Down Syndrome Tipperary / Siobhan Ryan (Tipperary) Acting Out 

Down Syndrome Tipperary (DST) is a voluntary parent-led organisation committed to supporting people with Down Syndrome, ranging in age from 0 to 60 years. Siobhan Ryan and parents in the group will trial a person-centred programme entitled ‘Acting Out’, specifically designed to meet the needs of Down Syndrome children who have suffered loss in all its guises. The programme will be led by a qualified play tutor who will guide the children in an exploration of loss through imaginary play and drama with the aim of helping the group learn how to visualise, process and express feelings of loss, in all its forms.


Emer Toale (Dublin) CJDegeneration

‘CJDegeneration’ will be an original suite of music composed by Emer Toale consisting of three movements mirroring the course of a rare, fatal, neurodegenerative disease called CJD. A solo endeavour, this creation will feature harp and piano and evoke the wide spectrum of emotions experienced by sufferers and carers afflicted by this and similar degenerative diseases.


Kevin Toolis (Mayo) Gone

Achill Island resident, BAFTA winning film producer, and Emmy-nominated director / screenwriter, and author, Kevin Toolis, will write and develop a bardic poem, encapsulating, in different voices, the loss, the lives, of all those taken and now gone in the pandemic.

Read an excerpt from the Irish Hospice Foundation’s recently-published book, ‘Reflection’, here.

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