Musical Memories and Ukulele Ceilí

Musical Memories and Ukulele Ceili, are intergenerational music projects in Music Generation Laois and Music Generation Offaly-Westmeath respectively. Through funding from the Creativity in Older Age Scheme, under Creative Ireland, both projects are now being expanded across all regions, using music as a tool to combat the isolation that older people are experiencing as a result of Covid-19.

An expanded Musical Memories and Ukulele Ceilí will be developed from May to December 2021.

Musical Memories is a Music Generation Laois intergenerational music project with carehome residents, primary school children, grandparents and voluntary organisations in the County. Musical Memories creates social connections through music, using music as a tool to stimulate memories of past-times by focusing on songs from different eras, and thereby opening up opportunities for conversations, and forging new friendships. Musical Memories was created in August 2020 as a direct response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on carehome residents in Laois.

Musical Memories is currently delivered in 3 care-home settings in Laois (Abbeyleix, Shaen, Mountmellick), 3 primary schools – Rath NS, Errill NS and Paddock NS, and has recently opened up to voluntary organisations in the county–Mountmellick Men’s Shed now attend weekly online.

Currently in Musical Memories, repertoire is shared via pre-recorded video tutorials and repertoire is rehearsed via live zoom sessions. Live workshops take place weekly in each setting, with collaborative events programmed to bring all participants together.

Ukulele Ceili is an intergenerational music project with primary school children and grandparents in Music Generation Offaly-Westmeath. Set up in 2018, the project originally brought primary school children from the MG Offaly-Westmeath Schools programme (focusing primarily on DEIS schools), and their grandparents together in Family Resource Centres, to play the ukulele. Repertoire includes contemporary songs/tunes and older songs. The success of Ukulele Ceili has led to innovative add-ons, such as ‘Adopt a grandparent’ where a child who might not have had a grandparent in the local community connected up with an older person. Parents now join in too, due to popular demand.

Since 2020, Ukulele Ceili has adapted to working online. MG Offaly-Westmeath worked with partners Laois Offaly ETB to upskill grandparents in using devices to access pre-recorded tutorials and live zoom workshops. Weekly workshops now continue on zoom with participants up to speed with technology.


Musical Memories is one of the best projects we have ever been involved is as a school’ Alison Phelan, Classroom Teacher, MM Project

Musical Memories ‘has given the lads a lift in these difficult times. In the past year it has been very difficult for all the men’s sheds groups because of the lack of socialization. This project has given the men an opportunity to communicate with each other and share a common interest. Our group would always have had a great interest in singing and we would have performed in a number of concerts and choirs in the churches of different denominations in the past. The lads have also adjusted to a new way of communicating through zoom’ Liam Stapleton, Mountmellick Mens’ Shed, MM Participant

When we have nothing to say to each other, instead of sticking on the television we get out our ukuleles and play’ Grandparent, Ukulele Ceili

I’m enjoying my weekly lessons – when are we doing a gig in the Concert Hall?’ Grandparent, Ukulele Ceili

I went over to my grandparents and sang the songs with them in the evenings and I know lots of other children did too. My Nanny Pat loves Elvis so she loved the song ‘Can’t Help falling in Love with you’. My Grandad Paddy loves ‘The Black Hills of Dakota’ because he loves old movies’ Fionnán Dalton, Paddock NS, Musical Memories Participant

Supported by Creative Ireland Laois, Laois County Council, as part of the Creative Ireland Programme 2017-2022