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

Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) Project – The Lonely Traveller

Playing the music score

In 2020 ‘The Lonely Traveller’ Project was one of the recipient’s of the Portal Documentation Award. View the project documentation video here.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

The initial aim of the project was simple: increase the access that deaf children have to the music and find new ways of delivering and differentiating the music curriculum for this cohort of pupils.  I enrolled on the Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) CPD summer course at Limerick Education Centre with the specific purpose of gaining a residency with a musician in order to achieve what I set out to do.

After being paired with Limerick composer Fiona Linnane we got the opportunity to get to know one another and discuss our project ideas at length during the TAP lead facilitator training which we were both chosen to attend. With an initial very loose plan/structure in place we kicked off the school based part of our project with a trip to University Concert Hall, Limerick to attend a “Music in the classroom” performance with the pupils.

A lot of background work was undertaken in the classroom prior to our engagement with Fiona. As my pupils had differing levels of hearing loss from mild and moderate to severe and profound it was important to explore with them how sound travels and how we can all experience sound in different ways ie some with ears and hearing some with hands and touch. It was important also to make the children aware that being deaf was not a barrier to experiencing, enjoying and producing music. In our english lesson we wrote to Dame Evelyn Glennie, a world famous percussion artist from Scotland who herself is deaf. The children were thrilled when Evelyn wrote back to them offering words of encouragement and praise. Ms.Glennie proved to be a very positive role model for all the pupils throughout the course of this project and her composition “The Lonely Traveller” became the central point around which our project evolved.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

Much of my preparation for this project involved meeting the students and gaining perspective on their experience of sound and music; the mix of abilities within the group; and how I would need to refine my practice to maximise the impact of the workshops for the group. This ranged from managing my communication style to allow for the use of ISL within the classroom to leaving more space in each session for students to move at a pace that worked best for them. I joined the teachers and students as they attended a “Music in the Classroom” performance at the University Concert Hall, Limerick and this provided me with great insight into how these children would respond to musical ideas.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

Fiona took the lead by facilitating engaging and experimental weekly workshops which were loads of fun. Both myself and the class SNA’s were on hand to assist with ISL and the provision of additional support to any pupil that needed it. After the first couple of sessions the pupils became very familiar and at ease with Fiona and after this point we all very much worked as a unit and in partnership with one another developing ideas and expanding on themes. Much of my curriculum planning for other curricular areas was influenced by the enjoyment that the children were experiencing in Fiona’s workshops. We chatted at length about “The Lonely Traveller” who it might be and where they might be travelling to/from in our oral language sessions. In history we explored the voyages of St. Brendan and the Imram tradition and in SPHE we spoke lots about how being deaf is no barrier to achieving one’s dreams as Dame Evelyn Glennie had illustrated.  Our workshops with Fiona influenced our class work and equally our class work across other curricular areas influenced the direction of our workshops with Fiona.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

I first designed and facilitated a series of workshops on experimental composition starting with simple rhythm exercises and graphic notation. Once I had established where the students were in their musical development, we began to plan a theme for our project. By linking in with the student’s interest in the work of Evelyn Glennie I introduced a simple piece (by Glennie) which I felt we could work within the framework of the project. Using chime bars and the graphic notation learned in the first phase of the project, we began writing songs and improvisation using The Lonely Traveller as a starting point. The students immediately responded enthusiastically to songwriting and so I began to look at ways to expand on this.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

This was an incredibly successful project on so many different levels. Fiona was a joy to work with. She was always so patient, kind and enthusiastic. She brought an open mind, in depth knowledge and a great sense of fun to the project. She engaged with learning ISL from the pupils and  always followed their lead no matter where it went. We very quickly established a three way partnership between pupils, artist and teacher which worked for everyone. This project started out as something quite simple and small but very quickly grew to become a fairly ambitious project. We had secured funding from Limerick Education Centre for a follow on workshop with local Puppeteer Emma Fisher to develop the visual aspect to our project. Unfortunately with the arrival of the covid 19 pandemic, extended school closures and no visitors policies we were unable to go ahead with this. However a promise is a promise and when schools reopened I took what little knowledge of shadow puppetry I had gained from my conversation with Emma and made this the focus of our art classes to complete the visual aspect of our project. The film was made with a mix of live acting and shadow puppetry. Working with deaf pupils in near darkness wearing visors and masks whilst maintaining social distance and pod groupings was challenging indeed but we got there in the end and we all agreed on seeing the final piece it was worth it.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

This project’s success was driven by the investment by the teacher, Jacintha Mullins.  It is difficult, as an artist to attempt to link in the topic your are covering with the subjects in the classroom as we are only physically in the classroom for the sessions.  Jacintha immersed the class in the project by linking it with other aspects of her teaching.

The usual challenge of engaging all students, even reluctant ones, was present but not to the same extent as other projects.  Again, I feel this was thanks to Jacintha’s leadership.

Obviously the big challenge arrived in the form of schools being closed in March.  We had just enough material already recorded to put the film together but plans to continue our work together had to be put on hold.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

The increased levels of self esteem and confidence that our pupils displayed both during and after this project were incredible. They were immensely proud of the work they had done and what they had achieved. Singing was something that these children had always done primarily with their hands through ISL. Hearing them spontaneously burst into song with their own compositions on a regular basis in our classroom and around our school is something really special indeed.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

I listened to the announcement of school closures in my car just before what would be our final session.  It was an especially poignant session – I remember feeling a sense of calm in the classroom, while chaos ensued in the world around us.  It would be my last engagement with a school for the rest of the year and, most likely, until September 2021.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

Working in partnership with a professional in the area of the curriculum that I found challenging was a very valuable experience. It showed me the value of arts in education and how bringing someone into the classroom can open up endless possibilities and new ways of teaching and learning for all involved. I will be seeking out opportunities to engage in further partnerships in the future.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

I recognise the importance of real engagement by the teacher.  Also not to feel like everything about the project is my responsibility, allow others to cover their areas of expertise.

On the flip side in future I will allow myself to be more involved in the artistic outcome.  Before this I had always allowed the students complete control over the final work, however, as I finished editing the sounds we had recorded it occurred to me that if I take on the more technical work myself it allows more time for the students to explore the more creative aspects of the projects.




Composer Fiona Linnane

The main goal of my work in schools is simply to highlight how accessible contemporary music can be.  There is a persistent perceptions that composers are old, male and dead!  And even among adults there is a sense of mystery around the art of composition - there is no mystery.  It is simply one sound after another.

Exploration of sound is also important to my practice - we are constantly bombarded by imagery in the modern world.  In my Arts Council of Ireland Artist in the Community Project ‘Bells across the Burren’, I encouraged visitors to simply stand and listen (on the side of a hill).  It was remarkable to see people carry out this simple task with wonder and enthusiastically call out the variety of sounds they heard: ‘a crow’, ‘a tractor’, ‘people talking in the courtyard’.  This was built on the simple action of putting a sign which said ‘Just listen’.

Collaboration is a large part of my practice.  My main output, at present, is in opera and vocal music.  Current projects include a site responsive work commissioned by Limerick opera company Opera Workshop (Arts Council of Ireland opera Commissions Award).  The work is inspired by the Georgian House No 2 Pery Square with the initial ideas coming from workshops with the cast (Arts Council of Ireland Opera Projects Research and Development Award).  This work is now being developed into a full length opera for production in 2022/3.


Teacher Jacintha Mullins

Jacintha qualified from the Limerick School of Art and Design with a degree in Fine Art. She went on to complete a Master of Arts in Interactive Media after which she qualified as a primary school teacher and completed specialised training and qualification  as a teacher of the deaf. Jacintha currently teaches children aged 8-12 years at the Mid-West School for the Deaf in Limerick.

As a teacher of children with a wide variety of  hearing impairments and special needs Jacintha is constantly employing her artistic skills to deliver the curriculum in a way that is active, engaging and relevant to the children in her classes. Jacintha understands the importance that the visual environment holds for deaf children. She is also acutely aware of the need that these children have to find ways within which they can express themselves. Jacintha endeavors to provide an arts rich approach to teaching and learning at the school for the deaf. In 2019 she undertook the TAP summer course and trained as a TAP facilitator later that same summer. She is also currently working as a creative associate within the creative schools initiative.

(Curator, agency, etc):

Teacher-Artist Partnership Programme


Fiona Linnane


Fiona Linnane

Jacintha Mullins


Jacintha Mullins


Music & Sound

School Level


Participant Group

Mid West School for the Deaf

No. Participants





7 - 12 year olds


September 2019 - December 2020

Leading Agency

Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) CPD

Other Partners and/or Funders

Limerick Education Centre

Key themes/ lines of enquiry

In no particular order: soundscapes, composition, Irish sign language, movement, shadow puppetry, performance, graphic scores, deaf identity, music, drama, story telling, story writing, sound and video editing

Curriculum Strands

Music, visual art, drama, SESE, SPHE, ICT

Hearing them spontaneously burst into song with their own compositions on a regular basis in our classroom and around our school is something really special indeed.

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

Practising a music score

A still from the final film 'The Lonely Traveller'.

Practicing the music score

Practicing and recording the score for 'The Lonely Traveller' written by the class.

Playing the music score for the film 'The Lonely Traveller'

Creating the shadow puppets set for 'The Lonely Traveller'

Editing the final film

Filming the shadow puppets for 'The Lonely Traveller'