The Welcoming Project


CYD initiated The Welcoming Project in 2016 as a way to foster cultural integration and social inclusion with Ireland's new communities. Through a common bond (the arts), the playing field is equal and a space is offered where people can come together, share their culture, their music, songs, dances, food and stories. A place where Irish people can be inspired to learn the cultures of others and where new communities have the opportunity to meet local Irish people.

Currently the group includes migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and local Irish spanning many countries including: Syria, Iran, Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Malawi, Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda, Ireland, UK, Switzerland, Germany among others.

The project, through dance, challenges prejudice and misconceptions, develops empathy, and promotes intercultural understanding between migrants and the host communities in Kerry, Dublin and Longford where they take place. The project also develops personal and transferable skills in migrants, making positive improvements – building self confidence and self-esteem, presentation skills, language and communication, new friendships and awareness of Ireland’s cultures. It promotes the positive contribution of migrants.

A core decision when creating the group was to have a mix of local people with migrants in order for each to get to know the other so the group strives for a 50:50 ratio of migrants to locals. To date the collective have created two full length works of excellence: ‘Welcoming the Stranger’ (2016) and ‘It takes a Village’ (2017).  The shows are all created in collaboration with professional dancers & musicians and have featured some of Ireland's finest musicians including Martin Scharer, Brian Fleming, Cormac Breathnach, Vyvienne Long, Jon Sanders, Eoin Dillon, James Mahon, Eoin Duignan and Kila.  The shows have been performed at the 2016 Commenorations on Banna Beach as part of Feile Failte, Siamsa Tire, Backstage Longford, Liberty Hall Dublin, Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival Palestine, Jerusalem, Dingle Global Rhythms Festival & The Big Bang Festival/Hotter than July Festival Smithfield and at the Jimmy's Hall Today Assembly at The Abbey Theatre - all to critical acclaim and standing ovation.


"...energetic and soulful choreography.  The work demonstrated a spirit of inclusiveness and care that set the tone for the whole event.”    - Fearghus Ó Chonchúir, director of The Casement Project  | Artistic Director, National Dance Company of Wales

“...electric, of the most enjoyable and engaging dance pieces I have seen ever."                                                                                     - Catriona Fallon, Director, Siamsa Tire Theatre


The project has been supported to date by: Kerry County Council, Siamsa Tire, The Arts Council, The Casement Project, KETB, Creative Ireland, The Dept of Justice & Equality, Culture Ireland, Backstage Theatre, Shawbrook, Longford County Council, Dingle Global Rhythms Festival, The Big Bang Festival & Improvised Music Company.





IT TAKES A VILLAGE as part of JIMMY'S HALL TODAY | The Abbey Theatre (August 27th,2018)  More info


Images: Ray Hegarty


IT TAKES A VILLAGE - Big Bang Festival/Hotter than July (2018)

Images: RF Amrod (2-11), Victor Rukman (12-18), Ray Hegarty (23-48)

Supported by: IMC, BBF, The Arts Council, Creative Ireland, Dublin City Council, Dance Ireland & Kerry County Council.


IT TAKES A VILLAGE - Dingle Global Rhythms Festival (2018) 

Supported by: Kerry County Council, The Arts Council, Creative Ireland.


IT TAKES A VILLAGE - Culture Night (2017)

Photos: Mark O'Rourke 

Supported by: Siamsa Tire, Kerry County Council, The Arts Council, Creative Ireland & Dept. of Justice & Equality


WELCOMING THE STRANGER - Backstage Theatre | Longford (2017) 

Photos: Doug Fox-Roberts

Supported by: Backstage Theatre, Longford County Council, Shawbrook, The Arts Council, Creative Ireland & Dept. of Justice & Equality



Photos: (1-7) Clare Keogh

Culture Night (2016)

Photos: (1-5) Domnick Walsh | (6-20) Richard Dwyer



'It takes a village’

“The performances provoked extraordinary audience reaction. Most of the participants in these dance performances had never taken part in such a project before, and had never danced on a public stage. The experience for the participants was described by them as overwhelming in terms of its positive results. It was clear to everyone in the theatre that these were experiences that would be formative and that would remain with these performers as seminal moments in their lives.” Catriona Fallon | General Manager, Siamsa Tire Theatre

“Spectacular. The impact of this work on the lives of the participants is momentous. We have seen their journey over the past months since volunteering to be part of the project, and they have grown in confidence, forged strong friendships and have been given a voice through dance. As a tool of integration, music and the Arts are key, as they are a common language for all, and this particular project has proven to have had very positive impact on cultural and social integration. It would be very disappointing for the impact to just have been for one event – by reaching more audiences and involving more people, the impact can spread wide.”Mary Carroll |Co-ordinator, Tralee International Resource Centre (TIRC)

“Kerry ETB are hugely supportive of the work of Kerry County Councils Dancer in Residence Catherine Young and her work “It takes a village”. It was clear that the process provided the participants with an opportunity to share their history, their culture, their gifts and strengths as well as their grief and loss. This initiative together with a similar initiative last year “Welcoming the Stranger” further highlights the important role of the arts; dance and music can play in both the healing process for refugees as well as supporting real and meaningful integration into the community.” Ann O’Dwyer |Director of Schools, Kerry Education & Training Board

“It was such a brilliant show and we hope there will be enough funding to have it shown in every town in Ireland, to give other people the opportunity to appreciate the arts as well as appreciate cultural diversity. The Arts is a mechanism for integrating Asylum Seekers/Migrants into the community.” Marilyn Counihan |Killarney Asylum Seeker Intiative, Coordinator

“The sense of camaraderie and ‘belonging’ that the work engendered among participants was palpable and has left a real legacy with friendships made locally and a sense of being part of the community that is completely unprecedented for the asylum seekers and refugees involved.” Kate Kennelly, Arts Officer, Kerry County Council


“When I came to Tralee I didn't have any friends. Then when I started working on the project I made new friends, Arabic and Irish and I felt like we were one family. When I was training with the group I felt something I never felt before. I loved working with them because of this feeling of community. And I felt respected and welcome by everyone. I didn't speak English very well but slowly I learned a little more day by day. And now I have friends that I wouldn't have met if not for this project. I feel we are better together. It changed my life." Ahmed  (Syria)

“I got to learn about different cultures and to expand my network and meet new people It improved my social life with the people from my community as we never used to talk with some (in the centres) but the dance brought us close together.Catherine is very patient, encouraging and fun to work with, easy to understand.” Siphathokuhle (Zimbabwe)

the team
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Catherine Young
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Music Director

Martin Schaerer 

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Rehearsal Assistant & Documentary Videos

 Eilise Sullivan

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Core Musicians | Sound Design

Cormac Breathnach (low whistle/vocals), Brian Fleming (percussion), Vyvienne Long (Cello), Jade O'Connor (Vocals), Jon Sanders (Mandolo) , Martin Schaerer (percussion). Sound Design: Fiona Sheil

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Lighting Design

John Hurley  &  Tim Feehily 


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Supported By:

Siamsa Tire, Kerry County Council, Backstage Theatre, Longford County Council, Creative Ireland, The Arts Council, Dance Ireland, Dublin City Council, The Big Bang Festival, Improvised Music Company, Dingle Global Rhythms Festival & The Department of Justice & Equality