A VISUAL and aural delight awaits at Mná ag Gaire’s Women’s Shed in Ennis this Culture Night when the acclaimed Hands in Harmony deaf community choir will take to the stage.
As well as showcasing their performance skills on Friday with a mix of songs which have been translated into Irish Sign Language the choir is also launching a brand new film.
The Hands in Harmony choir is made up with a mixture of deaf and hearing members with a mission to raise awareness of deafness and the Irish Sign Language in a positive way, highlighting the beautiful language and culture of the deaf community.
Their performances have been described as being both emotional and visually stimulating, opening minds to something new and exciting.
A film made with Grey Heron Media which has been created highlighting the experiences of members of the choir will be officially launched on the night.
The film has been made in collaboration with Clare Local Development and Ballyhoura Development CLG.
Fiona McSweeney, a member of the choir, who began learning Irish Sign Language a decade ago, explains that the film showcases the experiences of those in the deaf community, both positive and negative.
“The film tells their stories, going from when they first found out they were deaf until now, basically, and how things have progressed for them, or didn’t progress as it is a lot of the time.
“It gives a lot of positive experiences, and negatives in their lives. It’s just raw. There is no make-up or flashiness, they are sitting there in front of the camera and there are two ISL interpretors involved.”
She explains that the idea behind the video is to create awareness of the deaf community, and highlight that small changes can make a big impact in increasing accessibility.
“One woman on the film talks about going to the dentist, and the dentist had a ringer at the door. She couldn’t hear the woman speaking to her through the ringer, so she kept pressing it and pressing it and the woman working in the dentist marched downstairs really cross opening the door.
“Why not have a little video screen on the door instead? Small things like that can make such a difference. This film is highlighting how easily things can be changed if you just take the initiative.”
The Hands in Harmony choir was set up in 2014 in Limerick and is made up of members from across the Mid-West.
The choir has performed at a number of high profile events including at the papal mass during the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland and numerous festivals.
Fiona says the choir are all looking forward to the launch of the film as well as their performance on Friday.
“It will be brilliant, a fantastic night that should be a lot of fun. There is always a great energy when the choir perform, it brings out great positivity and real enthusiasm.
“And the launch of the film is exciting because it is the first big one we have done, and hopefully next year we will do another, maybe a full length film next time.”
Fiona herself got involved with the choir “by chance” having decided to learn Irish Sign Language when a different adult education course she had planned to do was cancelled.
She is now hopeful of starting ISL classes at Mná ag Gaire at the Tracklands Business Park in the new year.
The film is also being launched in Limerick this week with a performance in the Belltable. Tickets for Friday’s event are free, but they need to be booked in advance by contacting
email@example.com or 083 2046821. See www.culturenight.ie for more. The event will take place between 6pm and 8pm and is brought to you by the Clare Arts Office with the support of the Arts Council.