• One Town One Voice programme seeking towns to establish new multicultural singing groups across Ireland
  • Singing groups to reflect cultural diversity in Irish towns today
  • Building on success of first group in Fermoy, Co Cork

A ‘Solidarity-through-song’ initiative established in Cork is now looking to attract towns across Ireland to its unique model.

‘One Town, One Voice’ aims to establish secular community singing groups made up of Irish people and those who have moved to towns from other countries in recent years.

The aim is to use communal singing to bring people together regardless of nationality, enable and enhance greater community integration and build closer communities.

Founded by Graham Clifford, who also established the Sanctuary Runner movement, One Town One Voice’ is modelled on the success of a group in Fermoy, Co Cork.

The Fermoy International Choir has welcomed over 200 members since it started in early 2019 from across 35 nationalities and has helped enhance community integration in the town – in which 23 percent of the local population comes from another country originally.

Members of the Fermoy International Choir (L-R) Jackie Mocheko (South Africa), Eileen Barry, Dalia Biletskyy and Elena Bilozor (both Ukraine).

“The impact of the pilot in Fermoy was just amazing,” said Graham Clifford, “We’ve had singers from Ireland, South Africa, Estonia, Iran, South Korea, Germany, USA, Brazil, Lithuania, French Polynesia, the Netherlands, China, Portugal, Antigua, the UK, France, Ukraine, Poland, Italy, the Czech Republic…and so many other places. All coming together to sing as a group working with a musical lead. Informal but with a common purpose. And the fun, craic, social nights out, the bonding, the offshoot activities have all been amazing. It has energized the area.”

And now the hope is more towns will become involved.

“It’s a lovely initiative and can be so impactful. Our towns are now more culturally diverse and we must ensure everyone feels part of their towns so that they can contribute and enjoy being part of an Irish community. We want people in towns across Ireland who feel this is something which could work in their town to contact us. We’ll help with a little seed funding and provide a musical advisor to get them going. We want to establish One Voice Singers in towns, villages and communities right across Ireland,” said Clifford.

Members of the Fermoy International Choir: (L-R) Ted O’Leary, Roman Biletskyy (Ukraine) and Jelvon Doran (UK/Antigua)

The One Town One Voice initiative is funded by the Tomar Trust – a philanthropic trust based in North Cork founded by the recently departed Dr. Tom Cavanagh who was passionate about community integration.

There were 645,500 persons born outside of Ireland residing in Ireland in April 2021 – accounting for 12.9% of the total population (this was prior to the war in Ukraine).

And its hoped that each summer a festival will be held in Fermoy bringing together participating One Town One Voice groups from across the country to perform together.

To find out more or nominate your town as one of those to start a One Voice Singers group just email info@onetownonevoice.ie