Aileen Dillane – Ritual, Remixing, Recalibration, and Renewal?: ‘Éiru’s Threshold’ (An Artist Short Film from Covid19 Lockdown in Ireland)

Aileen Dillane
Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick/Body and Soul Ireland

Ritual, Remixing, Recalibration, and Renewal?: ‘Éiru’s Threshold’

(An Artist Short Film from Covid19 Lockdown in Ireland)


When Ireland went into a full lockdown (March to May 2020), there was much uncertainty about the festive calendar for the rest of 2020, given a rolling ban on large public gatherings. For the summer solstice festival, Body & Soul, a music and creative arts weekend event held on a 17th century estate an hour outside of Dublin, the dye seemed cast. The organisers chose not to maintain a strong online presence through a presentation of the festival in hybrid, compromised form. Instead, B&S entered into a fallow period until an announcement in late January 2021 heralded news of a multimodal commission supported by the Irish government. An 8-minute film, entitled “Eiru’s Threshold”, featured music, choreography and costuming dealing with the themes of dying and renewal, drawing from Purcell’s ‘Dido’s Lament’ and Celtic mythology. This paper offers a critical reading of the work in the context of the turmoil of 2020. Drawing on interviews with team members, the manner in which this piece was largely assembled in disparate locations while drawing inspiration from the landscape and energy of the festival site, speaks to the power of the arts to mark and assist collective grieving while pointing towards hope Further, the paper illustrates the ways in which this liminal ‘threshold’ signifies the already in-train demise of bigger music festivals, for which the virus and lock-down simply provided an impetus to recalibrate and reimagine festivity.

Biography of the author:

Dr. Aileen Dillane is an ethnomusicologist and Senior Lecturer in Music at the Irish World Academy, University of Limerick. She is PI on an EU-Funded HERA project entitled “FestiVersities: European Music Festivals, Public Spaces and Cultural Diversity” (2019-2022). Aileen co-founded/co-directs two research clusters: ‘Popular Music, Popular Culture’ and ‘Power, Discourse and Society’ both of which have associated book book series, ‘Popular Musics Matter: Social, Cultural and Political Interventions’ and ‘Discourse, Power and Society’, published by Rowman and Littlefield, Int.