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The Irish World Music Cafe Goes Online!

Irish World Music Cafe musicians pictured above.

The Irish World Music Cafe Goes Online!

Anyone who has ever lived in a new country knows how challenging it can be to meet new people. Whether we travel for work, school, adventure, or as a refugee, we all miss home in different ways.


In 2015 the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, in partnership with Doras Luimní, an independent non-governmental organisation working to promote and protect the rights of migrants in Ireland, set up the Irish World Music Cafe in Limerick city as a social and cultural event where new migrants could meet other people living in Ireland. This pop-up cafe features free food and music, as well as an open mic for anyone wishing to offer a song, a poem, a piece of music or a dance. 

In these challenging and sometimes isolating times, it is more important than ever to find ways to be together, even when we are far from our families and friends, so the cafe has decided to go online with a series of recorded and live events starting on World Refugee Day (June 20th) and concluding with a live, online café on Friday, June 26th at 3pm.

Hala Jaber is one of the coordinators of the Irish World Music Cafe. She came to Ireland from Palestine and completed her doctorate at the University of Limerick. As a community musician, she has been working with new migrants in Limerick, especially people from the Syrian community. As well as music, Hala draws on poetry to express the realities of migration and what it feels like to be so far away from home:

Feeling alone and terrified

unsure and wanting to hide

my family is in a different country

and I am feeling Hungry

Hungry for a kiss, a hug, affection 

and most importantly some connection 

missing my family 

wishing there are healthy

In Ireland, I stay

I can’t fly home anyway

looking forward to the day

when COVID is blown away

and in my mother’s embrace, I sway

One of the lovely things about the Irish World Music Café is that different groups have adapted the model and made it their own. The last live café held before the lock-down was hosted by Limerick Community Education Network as part of the Aontas Adult Education Festival.  Catherine Aylmer, a development worker with LCEN explained how this led to the adoption of a very special song as an anthem for the café:

“The event closed with everyone singing, ‘Limerick you’re a Lady’ by Limerick songwriter Denis Allen. Denis’s wife Anne attended the event and following a conversation with Helen Phelan (the café’s founder from the Irish World Academy) we thought it would be a nice anthem for the cafe.  Anne was contacted and Denis agreed that the song could be used for the Irish World Music Cafe anthem.”

So if you love world culture and you love Limerick and, most especially if, as the song says, “a new day finds you far away from home”, make a cup of coffee or grab your favourite treat at 3 pm on Friday, June 26th and join them for an hour of musical sharing.

June 20th is World Refugee Day. The United Nations reminds us that every minute, twenty people are forced to leave their homes somewhere in the world. Starting on the 20th, the Irish World Music Café facebook page is going to share a series of videos from around the world every day for one week. People are invited to send in a short video of a song, a dance, a poem or any cultural activity they would like to share.

On the final day of the week, Friday, June 26th at 3 pm, they will hold a live, online, one-hour cafe. Anyone is welcome to join for some fantastic cultural sharing from around the world – just register with Eventbrite at the Irish World Music Cafe facebook page or go HERE 

In addition, for those who may not be able to join live, they are inviting short videos from around the world of a song, dance, poem, piece of music, DIY, cookery demonstration, or any cultural activity! They will share a selection of these videos each day from June 20th, World Refugee Day, until the live event on June 26th at 3pm. Contact [email protected]

For more information on Doras Luimní, click here 

For more stories on World Refugee Day, click here


Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.