Creativity - Joy - Transformation


MusicAlive was established in 2009 by Kevin O’Shanahan and Caoimhe Conlon following their participation with Waterford Healing Arts Trust in a European Music and Health Exchange programme. It’s purpose is to provide access to high quality, participative based programmes. in mental health and older age community and health care contexts.

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What we do

At MusicAlive we aspire to bring the joy, creativity and therapeutic benefit that live musical interactions can bring to people. The choice to participate in programmes lies with the person.

While music is at the heart of our work, we also collaborate with professional artists from a wide variety of other art forms, including movement, creative writing and the visual arts.

MusicAlive’s project partners in the past have included Age and Opportunity, The Arts Council, Cope Foundation, Cork City and County Arts Offices, Cork Arts and Health partnership , the HSE and Cork Mental Health Services.

Our work is informed by evidence based research, from many perspectives, including healthcare and ethnomusicology. We also contribute to research publications, such as

Beyond Diagnosis - The transformative potential of the arts in mental health recovery

No 49 North Street

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No 49 North Street

MusicAlive are proud partners with West Cork Mental Health Services at 49 North Street - an innovative community based hub for creativity, recovery and wellness in Skibbereen, Co. Cork.

Since opening its doors in 2017, 49 North Street has been host to numerous events, including the West Cork Feelgood Festival, World Music Day, Skibbereen Arts Festival, and the First Fortnight Festival.

In 2019, 49 North Street hosts events also for Seachtain Na Gaeilge and the Lifelong Learning Festival.

To read more about the background to the development of 49 North Street visit: In conversation with Declan McCarthy - Creativity and Mental Health

Current projects include:

The Claddagh Rogues
Bantry Community Choir
Gamelan Spréacha Geala
The Happiness Ensemble
Open Door
Fite Fuaite Pop Up Gaeltacht
Mindful Movement
Song shop 49
Grow Together

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Benign and Beautiful
A bilingual and bicultural book of great beauty.

Benign and Beautiful.  A book to celebrate 10 years of Music Alive

Benign and Beautiful. A book to celebrate 10 years of Music Alive


­­MusicAlive was established in 2009, with the aim of promoting person centred participatory music and arts practice in mental health and older age health care settings. I was facilitating a music group on a particularly overcast autumn day in the Mercy University Hospital, Cork, Ireland in 2014, when a distinguished-looking gentleman approached me on the conclusion of the session. "To complete your musical education," he said "you really need to visit India". I had no plans to, but as luck, or maybe destiny would have it, within a year, that’s where I found myself.

The ‘Benign & Beautiful’ writings I learn are a distillation of Mr. Garg’s experiences and wisdom on how to lead a happy life, told in proverbs. Krishan has been able to pick up the entire proverbs from Mrs. M. P. Garg on a recent trip to India. It consists of almost 1,500 proverbs. The more I read, the more they resonate with me. Coming across a book, Dreamtime, by the Irish writer and philosopher John Moriarty, I read that he is of the view that until the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, Ireland shared much in common with or ‘belonged to’ Asia. Moriarty is also of the view that, since the nineteenth century, we in Ireland have walked away from a native language that was a way of seeing and knowing things.

Mr. M. P. Garg passed away on January 10, 2018. Krishan, Sudhir and their family wished to celebrate the legacy of this remarkable man and so we discussed how this might be done. It then dawns on me that many of the proverbs also resonate powerfully with the values MusicAlive aspires to in informing its work. By coincidence, photographer Aoise Tutty Jackson, an associate artist with MusicAlive, will be travelling in India in the spring of 2019. Aoise too is bitten by this benign but beautiful bug and is keen to help disseminate the writings to a wider audience. Her beautiful images accompany each proverb and capture both the thorns and roses of daily life in India and indeed life wherever it is found.

From a shortlist of 60, the final 30 proverbs chosen in this book serve as a reminder to the associate artists at MusicAlive of many of our core values, as we mark the 10th anniversary of our work in community and healthcare contexts.

For this edition of the book, Gaelic translations have been added to each proverb. The Gaelic and Hindi languages share a common Indo European heritage and so this seems appropriate. As Mr. Garg’s writings show, they also seem to share a way of seeing and knowing the world.

MusicAlive is fortunate and grateful to another of our associate artists, Deirdre Ní Luasaigh, for her beautiful translations.

We hope you derive as much pleasure from this book as we have had making it. At times when the world darkens, we hope Mr. Garg’s words will provide some light and love.

Go mbeannaí Dia sibh - Namaste,

Kevin O’Shanahan, Founder of MusicAlive, October 10, 2019


Thank you

Thank you to Baylis Medical for their support of the work of MusicAlive, by contributing to Benign and Beautiful, in particular Frank Baylis and Kris Shah, of Baylis Medical.



Exploring Life Writing:
An Ongoing Workshop Series on Memoir with Arnold Thomas Fanning.

Arnold Thomas Fanning is the author of  Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery

Arnold Thomas Fanning is the author of Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery


If you have always wanted to begin writing your life story, but didn’t know how to start, these workshops are for you. Exploring Life Writing is an ongoing and continuing series of two-hour interactive workshops exploring an exciting range of topics related to the creative writing of life stories. The series is ideal for those new to writing and wishing to explore the rich area of Memoir creatively. Through readings, discussion, presentations, exercises, and lots of writing, areas covered will include but not be limited to:

What is Life Writing?

  • Diaries & Letters.

  • Where to Begin & Gathering Ideas.

  • Prompts & Inspirations.

  • Memoir & Memories.

  • People, Places, Things.

  • Character, Conversation, Dialogue.

  • Truth, Words, & Representation.

  • Research, Sources, & Material.

  • Challenges, Difficulties, & Opportunities.

  • Publishing & Professional Development.


About the facilitator:

Arnold Thomas Fanning is the author of Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery, published by Penguin Ireland in 2018 and shortlisted for the Butler Literary Award, The Irish Book Awards Newcomer of the Year and the Wellcome Book Prize 2019. His work has been published in The Dublin Review, Banshee, the Irish Times, Crazyhorse Magazine, Hot Press, gorse, Paper Visual Art Journal online,, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and RTÉ Radio 1.


Booking a place

Exploring Life Writing will be meeting monthly, every
Second Friday, 11:30am-1:30pm,
in No. 49 North Street, Skibbereen.

First session
11 October 2019

8 November 2019
13 December 2019
10 January 2020
14 February 2020
13 March 2020
10 April 2020 (note: this is Good Friday)
8 May 2020

Informal enquiries:

To reserve your place please contact:


Percussion Workshop:
Play a part in the Rhythm of Life


This September, the West Cork based Gamelan Spréacha Geala
will delve deeper into the fascinating world of rhythm in an
open workshop with internationally renowned percussionist Alex Petcu.


About Alex Pectu

As well as being a member of the energetic and adventurous Bangers and Crash Percussion Group, Alex also performs in a wide variety of settings with a multitude of orchestras and ensembles. However, his main specialty lies in solo and chamber music. As a soloist, recent appearances include performances at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Kilruddery House and the National Concert Hall.

 Presented by Music Network, as part of the group’s nationwide tour in October, this workshop will be delivered in association with MusicAlive. Participants will learn a variety of rhythms, how to build and tune their own percussion instruments and will even get the chance to try out some of Alex’s own instruments, made out of everything from hanging pipes and tiles to pieces of wood and more.


No Booking required

The workshop will take place at
Cope Foundation Skibbereen, Mill Road
on Wednesday, September 18 at 7.00pm.

Participation is open to all from 12 years and upwards
(Under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult). 

No musical experience is necessary and the cost of the workshop is €10, payable at the venue. 

For more information and updates about the workshop please visit West Cork Gamelan on facebook.
To book tickets to attend the Bangers and Crash performance at the Curtis Auditorium at the CIT Cork School of Music, on October 10 please visit


Photography by Richie Tyndall and Aoise Tutty