On Wednesday July 15th 2020, Richmond Barracks was delighted to welcome eleven musicians from the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra who played to a small audience from Bluebell Community  Development Project.

This gathering reunited the two groups, who had worked together on a  project last year which saw members of the Bluebell Community Development Project performing their own compositions with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in the National Concert Hall for one night in September 2019. That performance was two years in the making and began when composer Séan Millar began visiting the Bluebell Community Development Project as part of The National Neighbourhood, a Dublin City Council Culture Company programme.


RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at Richmond Barracks
© Dan Butler Photography

It was a memorable night for all involved, and showcased not only the great talents of all the participants but highlighted the unique stories and friendships that were formed during the project.

Flash forward to summer 2020 and all the world is entirely changed. 

Sylvia Roberts, a member of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, had been thinking of the people Bluebell during lockdown, after enjoying the project with them last year. She reached out to see if it would be possible to put on a performance and so a small concert was decided upon.

When a suitable venue couldn’t be found, we at Richmond Barracks were delighted to be able to help out and offer the spacious Gymnasium for a small socially-distanced concert.


RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at Richmond Barracks
© Dan Butler Photography

The Orchestra played a selection of songs that spanned the musical universe from Abba to Guns and Roses – many of which had members of the audience singing along from behind their masks.

But it was the Orchestra’s rendition of Hallelujah, performed under the watchful eye of Peadar Clancy, ringing out through the Gymnasium, that caused more than a few tears to be shed from staff and audience alike.


RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at Richmond Barracks
© Dan Butler Photography

After the concert, there was lots of talk in the air of goosebumps and chills from the wonderful performances but also from what in the end felt like a celebration of music and community and how much we’ve all been missing both.

So huge thanks to the Bluebell Community Development Project and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra for sharing a bit of their magic with us last week. We felt lucky to welcome old friends, to come together (albeit in a new way) to share a moment of beautiful live music, to remember an extraordinary night in September 2019, and to be reminded of all the good things that are yet to come.


RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at Richmond Barracks
© Mark Stedman Photography

The National Neighbourhood

The National Neighbourhood is a year-round programme that creates ways for people to see and make culture in their place with people they know. These new experiences, explorations and connections are the foundation for people to build creativity into their everyday lives.

Made by Dublin City Council Culture Company in partnership with Dublin City Council (Dublin City Libraries, local area offices, Arts Office, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane) and National Cultural Institutions (Abbey Theatre, Chester Beatty, Irish Museum of Modern Art, National Archives, National Concert Hall, National Gallery of Ireland, National Library of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland).