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Morning Commute to have added cheer

16 November 2020

From Monday 16th November Iarnród Éireann customers will be treated to birdsong as they wait for their morning train at stations across the country.

On Chorus is a public art project by sound artist Christopher Steenson. The project will use Iarnród Éireann train station PA systems across Ireland to play the sound of birdsong from 08:00hrs to 09:00hrs until 29th November.


On Chorus highlights the dramatic reduction in noise pollution in Ireland during the first Covid-19 lockdown in Ireland. During this time, the sounds of towns and cities across Ireland were filled with the clear and uninterrupted sound of birdsong, which provided a stark contrast to the sounds of cars, planes and other machinery that usually consume our urban soundscapes. The sounds played on Iarnród Éireann’s PA systems was recorded by Steenson during the first few weeks of lockdown, in inner-city Dublin last Spring.


On Chorus uses birdsong as a vehicle for highlighting the biodiversity of our urban environments, emphasising the rich variety of wildlife that exists in our town and cities, which can go unnoticed amongst the noisy commotion of our daily lives. Using the collective act of listening, On Chorus asks listeners to reflect on the relative period of quietness we all experienced during the early months of the pandemic, creating a new sense of connection with our present moment as we all acclimatise to the ‘new normal’ of the Covid-19 climate. Given current restrictions, the only people that will be able to hear the birdsong in Iarnród Éireann train stations will be essential workers. In this way, the project acts as a gesture of appreciation and support as the Covd-19 crisis continues to unfold.


Birdsong Project - A bird flying through a cloudy sky

At the same time that birdsong will be heard in Iarnród Éireann train stations, birdsong will also play on the a website created especially for the project each day between 8:00am and 9:00am, for people who are still self-isolating or unable to travel. The website will provide information about the project, as well as presenting a series of 35mm photographs created by Christopher Steenson.


“Birdsong is something that is very dear to my heart,” said Niall Hatch, Head of Development and Communications with BirdWatch Ireland, “Throughout Covid-19 restrictions, it became even more important to me, as I know it did to people all across the country. 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 On Chorus project provides is 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. By collaborating with a national organisation like Iarnród Éireann, On Chorus demonstrates an innovative way that art can be presented publicly in the face of changing health restrictions, as a result of the current pandemic.”


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”


A full list of stations that will be playing birdsong is available here:


On Chorus is supported by Iarnród Éireann in consultation with BirdWatch Ireland.


The project is also supported by 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.