Arts and Health Research Network

The Arts and Health research network was formed by researchers interested in the relationship and interaction between arts and health. The cluster aims to create a hub for networking and collaboration between academics and practitioners in this field, facilitate collaborative research between arts and health disciplines and to promoted and develop interdisciplinary research between humanities and STEM experts. The cluster welcomes a diverse array of theoretical perspectives and research methodologies. To date there are 30+ members, from a diverse range of academic disciplines including music, dance, medicine, nursing and midwifery, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, visual art, law, music therapy, contemporary dance, traditional dance, sociology, theology and history as well as service user representatives. To join the group or find out more please contact the Chair of the Arts and Health Research Cluster, Dr Hilary Moss at

The group aims to:

  • Bring together an interested body of researchers, from a wide variety of disciplines, to share research interests in arts, health and humanities
  • Facilitate trans-disciplinary research partnerships and research groups within UL and potential cross-departmental funding applications.
  • Embed arts and health  research at UL
  • Connect the UL arts and health research group to the national and international field of research and practice

Terms of reference

  • The group will be open to all research methodologies, actively encouraging artistic output as well as research activity.
  • The group will keep person-centred care at the centre of their work and remit. Service user representatives will be sought to participate in the research group.
  • The research network will be grounded in faculty teaching and learning in the arena of arts, health and humanities.


Arts; health; well-being; arts and health; arts therapies; medical humanities; health humanities; narratives; narrative medicine; well-being.


Dr Hilary Moss: Hilary Moss is Senior Lecturer in Music Therapy at the World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, Ireland and previously the Director of the National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght Hospital, Dublin. She completed her PhD in 2014 on aesthetic deprivation and the role of the arts for older people in hospital at Trinity College Dublin School of Medicine under the supervision of Prof Desmond O’Neill. She is a musician and Music Therapist and has an MBA in Health Service Management. Her research interests include the role of music in chronic pain, dementia and the aesthetic environment of hospital; music therapy in mental health; health humanities and inter-disciplinary research. She has recently conducted a study of the benefit of health service workplace choirs and the role of music and music therapy in spirituality and health. She is co-founder and chair of the Arts and Health Research Cluster at UL. 

Professor William T. (Billy) O’Connor: Foundation Chair and Head of Teaching and Research in Physiology at the University of Limerick Graduate Entry Medical School. Prior to this appointment, he was Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and Head of Neuroscience Research at University College Dublin. His research focus includes an understanding of illness of mind and brain as a disorder of the nerve network and in the emerging field of neuroeducation – the brain science of learning – which arose from his long-standing interest in education, particularly those factors which allow the human brain to learn optimally. Professor O’Connor has authored more than 450 original papers, chapters, editorials, reviews and one book; Monitoring Molecules in Neuroscience (2001). He has collaborated with over thirty research scientists from seventeen countries, over the past 35 years. Billy retains a strong commitment to scientific outreach and communication. This is best illustrated through his popular Inside-the-Brain website, Twitter and Facebook accounts which report on the latest findings from the world of brain research.

Dr Dorothy Morrissey:  Dorothy is a lecturer in drama education at Mary Immaculate College, where she is course coordinator of the College’s MA in Education and the Arts (META). Her research interests include: gender and education; teacher identity; arts education; theatre for young audiences and partnership in the arts and education. She regularly employs narrative and arts-based approaches in her research; using them as both methods of inquiry and modes of research representation. Dorothy also worked for many years as a primary teacher and as a provider of Continuing Professional Development for primary teachers. She is interested in extending her expertise as an arts practitioner (in drama, dance and poetry) and arts-based researcher into the area of health and well-being.

Dr James A. O’Hare: James graduated from UCC and completed post graduate medical training in Ireland and Harvard Medical School where  he was Chief Fellow and Instructor in Medicine  at the Joslin Clinic Boston. He was appointed consultant physician- endocrinologist and UCC Clinical Senior Lecturer in Medicine at UL Hospitals.  He has served in national and international committees and is on the editorial board of the European Journal of Internal Medicine. He is Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine and Module Lead in Professional Competencies year 3-4 at ULGEMS. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians Ireland and London. His recent research interests are in humanities and the arts in medical education.

Ms Sophie Lee: Sophie graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a BA(Mod) in Music in 2015, achieving First Class Honours. She undertook an MSc in Performance Science at the Royal College of Music in London, graduating with Distinction in 2018. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Limerick where she is investigating the effects of music–based psychosocial interventions on the wellbeing and cognition of persons with early-stage Alzheimer’s Disease and their caregivers, supervised by Dr Hilary Moss and co-supervised by Prof Desmond O’Neill (TCD). Sophie worked for Breathe Arts Health Research in London in 2017 and currently works for the National Centre for Arts and Health at Tallaght University Hospital. She is a Musicianship Teacher at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and an avid pianist and chamber musician, winning the Senior Piano Competition and the Elsner Memorial Cup at Feis Ceoil, and attaining her LRIAM.

Dr Emma Fisher: has recently completed her PhD from the Department of Drama and Theatre Studies, Mary Immaculate College. Her research explores unconventionally constructed puppets that reflect the disabled body and looks at the history of puppetry to see how it has been applied in ways that transcend oppression of the body. She founded Beyond the Bark<>, an inclusive puppet and installation theatre in 2007, which has toured Europe. Emma is a puppeteer, theatre designer and playwright. She was nominated for an Irish Times theatre award for set design in 2010. Emma runs puppetry workshops in universities, schools, community centers and hospitals. She is president of Irish UNIMA (World Puppetry Organisation) and on the working group of the UNIMA Research Commission, where she conceived and co-organises the Broken Puppet Symposium series on puppetry, disability and health. She has articles published in RIDE (Research in Drama Education) and The Puppet Notebook.

Ms Jessica O’Donoghue: is a doctoral music therapy student and IRC award holder at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick. She qualified with a Master of Arts in Music Therapy from the University of Limerick and also holds a BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Jessica has a broad range of clinical experience with individuals who have communication difficulties, developmental disabilities, and mental health concerns. Her PhD research explores the effectiveness and potential benefit of music therapy for adolescents who experience developmental stuttering. Jessica’s research interests are in the areas of mental health, communication impairments, and listening to the perspectives of service users.

Dr Niamh Geaney (Bohane): is a GP in Limerick city, a graduate of University College Cork and the Mid-Western GP training program. She is also a writer, completing an MA in creative writing at the University of Limerick. She is involved with Limerick Mental Health Association’s Le Chéile peer support program, facilitating writing and creativity groups. Her areas of interest are in medical humanities, narrative analysis in medicine, and the role of creativity and the arts in mental health rehabilitation and maintenance.

Tríona McCaffrey is a Lecturer on the MA Music Therapy at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance (IWAMD). Her clinical background is in adult mental healthcare where established one of the first full-time music therapy posts in statutory health services in Ireland. She has also worked as clinical supervisor, guest lecturer and music skills tutor prior to becoming a full-time faculty member of the Academy in 2010. Her research is primarily qualitative and focuses on mental health and well-being. In 2014 she completed her PhD in service user evaluation of music therapy. She is particularly passionate about mental health recovery and the use of arts-based research methods to engage minority groups in health research. Tríona is a member of the Health Research Institute and co-founder of the Arts and Health Research Cluster(IWAMD) at the University of Limerick.

Dr Róisín Cahalan is a chartered physiotherapist and lectures in Respiratory and Cardiovascular Physiotherapy in the School of Allied Health in UL. She is also an Irish dancing teacher and adjudicator, and a former professional Irish dancer. She toured with Riverdance the Show for 8 years where she was the lead female dancer. Her PhD work explored pain and injury in elite adult Irish dancers. Her post-doctoral work has expanded to study pain and injury in contemporary and ballet dancers, as well as elite adolescent Irish dancers. She is passionate about improving dance health and has run regular workshops for dancers, teachers and parents under her “Complete Dancer Project” initiative,  Róisín also leads projects related to improving the health of persons with Cystic Fibrosis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease via behavioural interventions and exercise.

Deirdre Ní Loingsigh, Stiúrthóir na Gaeilge at the University of Limerick, is Director of Aonad na Gaeilge, the Irish Language Centre. She is the Principal Investigator of a Community-Based Research Project called BLÁTHÚ (Flourishing). In the current phase of this project, a strategic approach to Irish language planning and support in tandem with health promotion is being explored. The emphasis, in supporting language learning and a new kind of networking in the local community, is on flourishing and positive lifestyle in health and wellness terms. Coming from a background in adult education, Deirdre is particularly interested in the scope of participatory research methods in arts and health related research. CONTACT:

Dr Jason Noone is a music therapist working mainly in the field of disability service provision. In his work with people with disabilities, Jason employs innovative and person-centred applications of mainstream music technology to facilitate access, inclusion and creativity in music making. His doctoral research explored these applications using participatory, arts-based and rhizomatic methodologies, identifying empowering potentials of music technology through improvisation, performance and workshops.

Swedish born traditional dancer, choreographer, and researcher Mats Melin has worked professionally with dance in Scotland since 1995 and in Ireland since 2005. He has been engaged in freelance work nationally and internationally as well as having been Traditional Dancer in Residence for four Scottish Local Authorities. Mats co-started the dynamic Scottish performance group ‘Dannsa’ in 1999.  He is a former member of the Scottish Arts Council’s Dance Committee and Scottish Government Working Group on Traditional Arts, and currently an office bearer for Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland. Mats is a Lecturer in Dance at the Irish World Academy, University of Limerick, Ireland. My arts and health interests lie in injury prevention among dancers, and various wellbeing initiatives through the medium of movement, combining step dance, tai chi and health and energy initiatives.

Dr Maggie O’Neill researches twentieth century and contemporary Irish fiction, medical humanities and cultural gerontology. She is currently Project Coordinator for the Gender ARC research consortium in the University of Limerick. She has taught in the University of Limerick, Maynooth University and Dublin Business School. Recent publications include a feature article entitled “Angina Pectoris, Emotions and Kate O’Brien’s Mary Lavelle” in the Irish University Review and three edited collections on the theme of women and ageing with Palgrave, Life Writing, and the Nordic Irish Studies Journal. She is co-editor of the Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists Journal.

Olive Beecher is a professional dancer and dance academic.  She trained at the Nikolais/ Louis Dance School in New York.  She perform at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1991 with Daghdha Dance Company which were funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. Her PhD thesis (2005) is on Therapeutic applications of Modern Dance and focuses on children with cerebral palsy and spina bifida. Olive has presented at Conferences both nationally and internationally. Her artistic work is influenced by the Experimental Dance Periods of the 1960s and 1970s in Europe and America. Olive is a dance tutor at the IWA, University of Limerick since 2006.

Other members include: Aileen Dillane, Amanda Clifford, Anne MacFarlane, Antonia O’Keeffe, Carmel McKenna, Ciara Breathnach, David Meagher, Deirdre Ní Loingsigh, Deirdre Munro, Dominika Lisiecka, Helen Phelan, Ian Murphy, Imelda Doolan, Jane Kavanagh, Jennifer de Brun, Jennifer McMahon, Jennifer Schweppe, Jennifer Stritch, Jessica O’Donoghue, Joanne Shanahan, K Harris, Katie Fitzpatrick, Katie Verling, Katie Robinson, Leonard O’Sullivan, Lisa McLoughlin, Mats Melin, Matthew Herring, Olive Beecher, Orfhlaith Ni Bhriain, Sarah Hyde, Sheila Richardson, Sinead Dinneen, Stephanie Moloney, Clare Townsend, Tracy Fahey, Marie Glynn, Shane Cassidy, Yianna Liatsos and Siobhán Nelligan.

Past Events and relevant reports

A small selection of events and publications by members of the network are listed here. For full details please see individual members profiles at



Monday 15th March: Music, Dementia and Positive Ageing

This event, live streamed from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, aims to disseminate current research on positive ageing and dementia through the medium of music. As part of National Brain Awareness week, the event will feature performances of original musical compositions by Ian Wilson and Paul Noonan depicting experiences of living with dementia. It will also feature presentations by leading researchers and clinicians on positive ageing and music and dementia research, and an experiential workshop exploring the effects of singing on well-being and cognition in older age. This event welcomes service users, family carers, healthcare professionals, policy makers, academics and members of the public.


Tuesday 6th October: Music, Health and Wellbeing Symposium

The first online symposium on Music, Health and Wellbeing, hosted by University Hospital Limerick, aims to gather clinical professionals, music therapists, musicians, representatives from relevant NGOs, service users and members of the public, to share in a day of research, workshops and performances exploring music, music therapy, health and well-being.

Led by the music, health and well-being research team at the University of Limerick, this day will provide research findings and share clinical practice to show how music therapy can enhance medical outcomes.

Presentations on the evidence for the use of music in healthcare will bring together speakers from the University of Limerick Hospitals Group, Tallaght University Hospital, the National Rehabilitation Hospital and the University of Limerick. Topics to include: Music in the Irish Medical Context, Music Therapy in Acquired Brain Injury, Music and Chronic Pain, Music, Dementia and Mental Health, Music Therapy for Children and Adolescents, and Music and Perinatal Care. Workshops will include sessions on music and mindfulness and singing for your mental health in the workplace and hospital.


Humanities and Medicine Lunchtime Seminar Series University of Limerick 2018-2019

SPECIAL EVENT: Music Therapy and Pain Medicine with Dr. Joanne Loewy Wednesday 15th May 2019


January: Art exhibition in the Graduate Entry Medical School

March: Lunchtime concert at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance The Claddagh Rogues

March: Arts and health research cluster meeting and lunch with guest speaker Prof Des O’Neill, Geriatrician and Chair of the TCD Medical/Health Humanities group. This was followed by a performance of ‘…therefore I am’ by Ian Wilson. Wilson was in residence at Tallaght Hospital and wrote this piece reflecting on the experience of meeting and shadowing people with dementia. The work, for saxophone, violin, viola and double bass, was performed by members of the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

May: “Transitioning Embodiments in Health Humanities” symposium. Dr Yianna Liatsos (School of Culture and Communication) organised this one-day interdisciplinary symposium in the field of Health Humanities with support from in IWAMD (Dr Hilary Moss), Law (Dr Lydia Bracken and John Lombard), and GEMS (Dr Antonia O’Keeffe).  Prof Paul Crawford, author of the book Health Humanities  was one of the keynote speakers.

Sing While you Work: the Well-Being Benefits of Workplace Choirs

Report on a pilot study of Health Service Executive (HSE) workplace choirs. Authors: Dr Hilary Moss & Ms Jessica O’Donoghue, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance,University of Limerick. 21st October 2018.This study was supported by the HSE Health Promotion Department.

Read full report here

Dance and Health Training Research: An Arts Council Commission

Read full report here

Examining the Benefit of Music and Music Therapy for People Living with Chronic Pain

Read full report here

Arts & Health Research Network Meetings

The network meet three times a year to share research interests. To join the group please email or