What does Arts in Education practice look like? Read about the processes and partnerships behind current projects happening around Ireland.

A Day in the Life of Rathkeale

The Wall of Happiness from A Day in the Life of Rathkeale exhibition, Limerick and Clare Local Creative Youth Partnership

The Wall of Happiness from A Day in the Life of Rathkeale exhibition, Limerick and Clare Local Creative Youth Partnership

A Day in the Life of Rathkeale opened in Rathkeale Arts Centre in February 2020 and will be exhibited again in Limerick City Gallery of Art and in The People’s Museum of Limerick on August 27, 28 29 & 30 2020 as part of the Scairt na hÓige festival presented by the Local Creative Youth Partnership.

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

This project evolved from exploratory discussions and consultations between Limerick Youth Service in Rathkeale Youth Space and the Local Creative Youth Partnership based at Limerick and Clare Education & Training Board.  Following a number of exchanges, Limerick Youth Service Coordinator, Lisa Quirke identified photographic artist, Stephen Lappin as someone with whom the young people in the centre already had a relationship.  With support from the Partnership, Lisa engaged Stephen as the facilitating artist for the project.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Stephen Lappin, Photographic Artist

The main focus of this project was to allow the young people as much creative freedom as possible without straining to instill a technical ‘know-how’ of photography.  I believe that dwelling on things like aperture/depth of field/lighting etc. would only bog down and ultimately put off such young participants.  My approach, rather, gave the young people freedom to explore the subjects they wanted to shoot, developing their own creative ideas with minimal instruction from me.  This style of facilitation allowed the young people to own their creative process with my support around technical issues such as setting up the camera for a particular shot.

With this in mind we decided to go with a ‘street photography’ theme where the participants would try to capture candid and unforced scenes of everyday life in their hometown of Rathkeale. We discussed where would be good to photograph in the area, who might make good subjects and how we should go about taking the photos?   Between us we thought it practical, as the number of participants was large and their age so young, to split the group in two with one group led by the artist and teacher and other led, initially, by youth workers.  Both groups explored the streets of Rathkeale for an hour to take photographs before returning to discuss and review the material. We repeated this method on three occasions until we had accomplished a requisite portfolio of work.

Lisa Quirke, Youth Work Coordinator

Having previously worked with Stephen, he was the perfect ‘fit’ for this project. The programme was designed, developed and completed by the young people. They guided the programme though each step; coming up with a concept, how it should be carried out, what pictures should be selected, what title we should give them, where the exhibition should take place, etc. They had the main pivotal role at all stages of the programme.

The young people thoroughly enjoyed the experience. They had great fun using the cameras and enjoyed telling us stories about the places that mean something to them in Rathkeale.  The young people gained skills and confidence through this experience. The programme showed the great pride young people have in their community and the response from the local community was amazing. It was pleasure to see young people being acknowledged for something positive in their community.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Stephen Lappin, Photographic Artist

There were so many successes with this project:

  • Allowing participants to become creative through a medium they may never had thought of;
  • The fun side and the excitement of rampaging around the streets taking the photos—seeing the joy they gained from doing this;
  • Allowing the young people to have editorial inputs into which photos they liked the best, wanted to use, to get framed;
  • The professional approach the participants took to preparing the exhibition All these and more made it such a worthwhile and enjoyable experience for me.
  • Challenges arose mainly with hardware and time constraints and also the young age of the photographers. It would have been nice to have had more hardware to distribute (cameras) and more time than the one hour a week to explore the creative side even more and because the age profile was 10-12 years there were obstacles involved there that older teens might not have—such as having access to their own phones to take photos with capacity for emailing and sharing.

Lisa Quirke, Youth Work Coordinator

This project not only showed the pride the young people have in their community but it also served to enhance the community spirit in Rathkeale as it created a real ‘buzz’ in the area. It also enhanced the relationship young people have with some older individuals in their community.

This programme highlighted the importance of sourcing the right tutor and the significance of the working relationships between all parties involved. It’s vitally important that all people involved have the same goal and values or the programme may not succeed. On this occasion, LYS, the tutor and the LCETB/LCYP  were very lucky in that we all had and continue to have an excellent working relationship and kept our target group in mind thorough all stages of the programme. After all, the programme is about the young people!

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Stephen Lappin, Photographic Artist

To see a complete cycle of events unfold during the project was significant. From the inception and initial discussion, to basic composition and camera handling, to then going out and taking the photos and editing them, selecting and framing all proved rewarding. The final stage of the cycle, finishing with the exhibition and how well it was received by the townsfolk and broader community was truly amazing.

Lisa Quirke, Youth Work Coordinator

As a youth organisation, we continually strive to support young people to get involved in their community, to have their voices heard and the engage with their local community at various levels. This programme was an excellent example of how young people can have a positive impact on all individuals in a community – young and old, different backgrounds and cultures, the isolated and sometimes the forgotten. In essence, this programme highlighted those people that are visible to young people in their community but often invisible to the wider community.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Lisa Quirke, Youth Work Coordinator

I will certainly consider planning more creative programmes and will look to the Local Creative Youth Partnership for advice and direction in exploring funding opportunities in this area.



Stephen Lappin, Photographic Artist

Ballyneety, Limerick.

Trained as a photographic technician in the day before digital photography where photographs needed to have their negatives developed and then projected onto photopaper in a darkroom before you could see the results.

Worked as a photographic archivist with the Limerick City and County Council in conjunction with the Limerick Leader for projects centered on Limerick City of Culture 2014 which included the exhibition From Limerick with Love and the hardback publication Limerick Through the Lens.

My photographic work today focuses on the local landscapes of Limerick, Clare and Kerry.



Lisa Quirke, Youth Work Coordinator

Limerick Youth Service, Rathkeale Youth Space, Abbey Court, Rathkeale, Co Limerick.

Limerick Youth Service (LYS) is a leading provider of youth work, education, training & employability opportunities for young people and, with over 40 years’ experience, is to the fore in providing quality youth led programmes.

LYS supports a number of diverse youth work projects including Comhairle na nÓg, Garda Youth Diversion, Youth Cafés, Youth & Family Support, Be Well: Youth Mental Health Service, a Youth Information Bereau, international youth work & volunteer led youth clubs across Limerick City & County.

Education & training remain key features of the organisation with a variety of course including an Ability Programme, Digital Skills, Employability Skills, Early Childhood Care & Skills, Bike Project, Retail Skills, Catering Course, Baking Skills, iScoil initiative & Leaving Cert Applied among the many courses young people can study.

LYS enhances the civic, educational, personal & social development of young people with programmes focusing on a broad range of topics from leadership skills, animal welfare and web safety to creative arts, music and sport.

LYS works in partnership with a number of national and regional organisations including Youth Work Ireland, Solas, Tusla, Limerick & Clare Education & Training Board, the Department of Justice and Equality, Limerick City & County Council, the Department of Children & Youth Affairs, the Department of Social Protection, the Irish Youth Foundation, Leargas, European Social Fun & the HSE along with many voluntary and community groups.

Rathkeale Youth Space, located in Abbey Court Rathkeale in County Limerick, mainly serves Rathkeale Urban and Rural is largely a disadvantaged area and a designated RAPID area.

Currently the Youth Project operates an open door policy to all young people ages 10 to 18 years living in west county limerick. Therefore the target group is quite broad, in that we work with those that are very much in need of support and those that would be deemed ‘mainstream youth’. The project is also quite unique in that it engages a large traveller population living in the area and an additional number of transient Travellers that come ‘home’ to Rathkeale over the Christmas holiday period.

The staff and support personnel at the Youth Space offer a broad range of services to all the young people we engage with throughout the year for example:

  • Individual Support
  • Group Activities
  • Healthy lifestyles Programme
  • Skills-based programmes e.g. music, drama, etc.
  • Citizenship Programme e.g. tidy towns
  • Indoor games
  • Team Challenges
  • Sports Programmes
  • Soccer tournaments
  • Inter- agency programmes
  • Personal Development Programmes
  • Healthy Relationships programme
  • Community Engagement
  • Youth Leadership Training
  • Youth Exchange Programme
  • Social skills programme

(Curator, agency, etc):

Monica Spencer, Coordinator

Local Creative Youth Partnership

Limerick & Clare Education & Training Board

A Day in the Life of Rathkeale represents the type of collaboration the Limerick and Clare Local Creative Youth Partnership strives to nourish.  The project truly represents the voice of the child, both in the choice of activity and through the project’s artistic process. The project is built on strong partnership and celebrates the work of the seldom heard.

About Limerick and Clare Local Creative Youth Partnership (LCYP)

In September 2018, Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board successfully applied, to Creative Ireland, to establish one of three, pilot, national Local Creative Youth Partnerships.  In June, 2019, the Local Creative Youth Partnership (LCYP) appointed a coordinator, Monica Spencer, to develop a plan and programme to be delivered throughout Limerick and Clare over the life of the Creative Ireland plan up to 2022.

Guiding Principles

  • Creative youth’s overarching principle ‘to enable the creative potential of every child and young person, is pivotal to the Limerick and Clare LCYP
  • ‘the voice of the child’ is embedded through policy and activity associated with the partnership’s work
  • ‘the seldom heard’ and ‘hard to reach’ voices of children and young people are sought through a consultation process across both counties
  • ‘the meeting point between formal and informal education’ is identified as the site for nurturing  the work of the partnership

Strategic Goals

The Local Creative Youth Partnership will:

  1. Develop the partnership, nourishing existing and cultivating new relationships with key stakeholders from youth work, culture and education
  2. Initiate and grow creative programmes in consultation with young people, in response to their expressed opinions
  3. Develop a strategic plan based on the consultation process
  4. Ensure that quality and visibility are valued throughout the programme, promoting awareness of young people’s work and of Creative Youth
  5. Work with early years agencies both in the region to enhance and support creative practice for ELC staff
  6. Collaborate with the commercial film sector in Limerick and Clare, to initiate training programmes for young people

Stephen Lappin, Photographic Artist


Stephen Lappin


Lisa Quirke, Youth Worker



Participant Group

Rathkeale Youth Space

No. Participants





10 to 12 year olds


October 2019 to February 2020


Leading Agency

Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board

Key themes/ lines of enquiry

Identity, sense of place, my community

Research or relevant publications

Limerick Youth Service Strategic Plan.

LYS Baseline Study & Needs Analysis of young people aged 10-18 in Rural County Limerick.

Creative Youth: A plan to enable the creative potential of every child and young person

Limerick & Clare Education & Training Board Youth Work Plan 2018-2021

This programme was an excellent example of how young people can have a positive impact on all individuals in a community – young and old, different backgrounds and cultures, the isolated and sometimes the forgotten.

Lisa Quirke, Youth Work Coordinator

Photographer working with children

A Day in the Life of Rathkeale, Cinema Scene,

A Day in The Life of Rathkeale, The Rathkeale Rider