Citizens of Limerick: Sandra Joyce

Sandra Joyce is director of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at University of Limerick.

The Academy provides a space where musicians, dancers, composers, singers, conductors and choreographers research and perform together.

“I’m from Co. Galway originally, Tuam. I studied in Cork. Limerick has been my home for 21 years so I see myself as a native now. I live out the countryside. I embrace different parts of the experience of living in Limerick, I have the rural house but I work on the periphery of the city but the city is really the heart of what happens in the county and in the university too.”

“The university is beginning to mature itself now and beginning to embed itself in the city. A lot of our students are basing themselves in the city centre because they love the vibe of living in the city.”

“I came initially as a student to study my PhD at the Irish World Music Centre and I was one of the first people to base myself at the centre when Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin moved here and I was very lucky to be part of the start-up situation with the academy and with traditional arts in particular at the university. As director I have an overview of all the courses. We grew from a base of 0 to about 20 programmes now. UL has the only third-level training for dance on the island of Ireland. We have a very high proportion of international students; we are very proud of that.”

Sandra has great insight into the relationship between the university and the city, “The university can’t exist, I don’t believe anyway, without the city. There was a perception that it was existing in an oasis outside of the city but for me the vibrancy of the city makes the university what it is. It’s got this rural feel right next door to the city.”

Proving that there is a good working relationship between the university and the city, Sandra works close with a number of city-based institutions such as Dance Limerick.

“It’s a fantastic resource and institution. I go to as many dance events as I can. I’m delighted Dance limerick is located in St. John’s Square.”

Recently Sandra helped coordinate the Songs of Liberation, Rebellion and Resistance conference and event held in the city and the university. “In my job I get to go to a lot of events and I try to go to as many as possible but I can’t keep up. There is so much on, it’s wonderful! I would love to get to more visual arts events if possible. I think the process of being involved in the bid is very good; I would hope for a successful outcome. I think in general the bid has been very inclusive, people have been consulted as much as possible. It seems to be a no-brainer that Limerick would get it because even with infrastructure alone Limerick has the best bid.”

Win or lose the European Capital of Culture 2020 bid, Sandra hopes to attract the North Atlantic Fiddle Festival to Limerick in 2020. “They are very interested in coming to Limerick. It was last in Ireland in 2012 in Derry and Donegal. It will be the first time that Limerick has something like that. It will be exciting for the academy because it has a conference and festival aspect. We would be very excited about the potential for that.”

To learn more about the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and any upcoming events, follow the link to the website. 

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