three people sitting having coffee laughing

Conversations on Ireland

We asked Irish people and people living in Ireland to speak freely about their sense of Ireland today.

The question “What is Ireland?” could never have a single, simple answer.

We needed to hear a range of voices from across the spectrum of Irish society. A conversation rather than a sequence of individual responses seemed like the best way to find common ground, uncovering the shared values that are central to the experience of being Irish today.

Music as conversation

Musician Martin Hayes speaks of how traditional Irish music took a conversational form: a question is articulated in one musical phrase and answered in the next. A metaphor for the distinctive Irish predilection for conversation and storytelling.

Old becomes new

In the film, Martin performs The Girl That Broke My Heart, alongside Crash Ensemble’s Artistic Director Kate Ellis, while Morgan Bullock from Richmond, Virginia, dances. The music and the dance have been transformed into a contemporary art form. The old has become the new.

At the centre of these conversations are three values that resonate through time:

  • Community — the bonds that hold us together, even as we become a global society
  • Creativity — the multiple art forms through which we express our identity and our perspectives on the world
  • Transformation — how we create and adapt to radical change, moving forward together, renewed and renewing.



Martin Hayes, Musician
Kate Ellis, Artistic Director, Crash Ensemble
Justine Stafford, Comedian
Morgan Bullock, Dancer, Riverdance
Orla Feely, President, UCD
Mercedes Kevill, Organic Food Producer
Ciara Ní É, Artist and Broadcaster
Harry Arkwright, Student
Ciarán Murphy, Podcaster and Author
Liswa Mc Donald, Co-founder, Umoja linn
Noeline Blackwell, Chief Executive, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre
Jane-Ann McKenna, CEO, Dóchas