Irish rail services to play birdsong for commuters on early morning journeys

Irish rail services to play birdsong for commuters on early morning journeys

THIS COULD make the dreaded commute a little easier...

While many of us have been placed on temporary leave or are working from home as Ireland's second lockdown enters its mid-way point, thousands more continue to go to their essential work which cannot be done from home.

Doctors, nurses, shop staff and pharmacy staff are among those still doing the early-morning slog on public transport, be it on trains, trams or busses-- but a new nationwide art project aims to make those journeys a little more bearable.

"On Chorus" is a project by sound artist Christopher Steenson which will see birdsong be played in Iarnród Éireann stations across the country from 8am to 9am every morning until the end of November.

The Birdsong Project aims to highlight the dramatic reduction in noise pollution seen during the first Covid-19 lockdown, where the natural sounds of Ireland's wildlife were much more noticeable due to the reduction in traffic.

Remarkably, Mr Steenson recorded the loud birdsong in inner-city Dublin last spring during the first few weeks of lockdown, and commuters are asked to reflect on this relative period of quietness we all experienced during the early months of the pandemic.

Speaking on the new project, BirdWatch Ireland Head of Development and Communicatons Niall Hatch, said "Birdsong is something that is very dear to my heart".

"Throughout Covid-19 restrictions, it became even more important to me, as I know it did to people all across the country," he added.

"Hearing the sound of the birds singing around my home, and especially the beauty of the dawn chorus, became a real source both of entertainment and of comfort to thousands of people, many of whom had never really paid it much heed before."

Steenson's project "provides a unique and exciting nationwide art project, providing the public with the opportunity to experience art at a time when most cultural institutions in Ireland remain closed", he added.

Iarnród Éireann’s Environmental Executive, Emer Bambrick said: “Iarnród Éireann is delighted to collaborate with On Chorus to deliver this unique project which will broadcast the soothing sounds of biodiversity to our passengers in stations across the country this Winter."

For those of us who do not have to travel for essential work, or who are self-isolating at home, you can also hear the On Chorus project on the website between 8am - 9am each morning.

The project is supported by Iarnród Eireann in consultation with BirdWatch Ireland, as well as Fire Station Artists' Studios, RTÉ Supporting the Arts and Fallow Media.

The project is funded through the Arts Council of Ireland’s Covid-19 Crisis Response Award, with additional funding from The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.