What’s the story, Limerick?

Rita and I have had a lovely reunion in Limerick starting Monday the 22nd of August. Just like in our first residency in Varjakka with Taikabox in July, many of the most meaningful conversations are had in the kitchen while one of us is cooking at the end of the day. The one big difference between the residencies is that while Varjakka was a rural place, we are this time in an urban setting here in Limerick. 

We have been warmly welcomed by Jenny, Philippa, Fiona, Alice and Gearoid from Dance Limerick, and already within a couple of days we have a rather comprehensive understanding of the city and of Dance Limerick. Philippa, who is our facilitator in this residency, has proven to be quite the networker, and it is a joy to follow how she connects us with people and communities in the area. 

Rita and I find ourselves working from a beautiful old church on John’s square. The church has been repurposed for dance and it is where Dance Limerick hosts most of its activities. It must be the most impressive dance studio I’ve ever worked in. Next to the church in the graveyard you can find many fascinating graves with touching memorials written on them. Just like in Varjakka, past has a ghostly presence here. We keep the church as a centre point while we visit people and places elsewhere in Limerick.  

Rita is continuing her research on food activism and visits local markets in the Limerick area. I on the other hand continue an approach of looking into the geography and landscape of the place that I enter as a way of connecting with the community. I have gotten interested in the river Shannon, which is the longest river in Ireland, and runs softly through Limerick. The river is meaningful to many different communities in the area, and also some art projects are already built around it. Most people seem to have something to say about it. 

Yesterday Philippa and I visited historical Curraghgour Boat Club and got an extensive introduction on the history of boats on Shannon from one of the boat club members Andrew. We also ended up chatting with two other members of the club Eugene and Tom. We must have spent more than an hour on our spontaneous visit, and left the site impressed and fascinated. 

On our sofa in the house that we are staying in with Rita is a pillow with a gaelic sentence Cad é an scéal?. The sentence translates into what’s the story? and according to Philippa “is a very Dublin expression – meaning ‘ howse it going?’ how are you doing?”. It seems to me that stories and oral history come quite naturally to the locals. This question works as a nice guide for meeting the locals: a lot could arise simply from asking “what’s the story?”. Actually, most times one does not even need to ask, and the story is already coming your way.  

We are very much looking forward to the days to come. Tomorrow Friday there’s a Big Dance Night at the church where we get to meet many locals.

Until later. -Warmly, Silja Tuovinen

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