Strangers in the Night: African Migrant Music-Making in Irish Cities

How do African migrant communities develop, negotiate, sustain and potentially transform their practices and identities through music-making at night?


1. The project, contextualised within two Irish city case studies, Cork and Galway, explores communal musical activity amongst the African diaspora at night.

2. The project, rooted in micro musical practices, addresses macro themes of cultural participation, migration, identity, interculturality and belonging within Irish cities.

3. The project maps African migrants’ music-making qualitatively taking in youth and adult age groups, amateurs and professionals, multi-musical genres, formal and informal music practices, within both rehearsal and performance night spaces.


The Irish project studies African migrants’ music-making in Galway and Cork and involves a partnership with Galway City of Culture. The project is contextualised within these two cities, due to their peripheral urban status in the country, with a high concentration of African migrants. The project specifically explores communal musical activity (amateur and professional) within public spaces amongst the African diaspora at night. This work will build on and expand the use of a ‘community of practice’ and ‘community of musical practice’ framework to highlight the salient issues of belonging and identity within such communities. The study uses a qualitative collective case study approach across the two cities to ‘map out’ the multiple musical subcultures and intercultures of African migrant music-making at night. The project examines youth and adult age groups, multi-musical genres, formal and informal music practices, and analyses data collected within both rehearsal and performance spaces. Key events such as ‘Africa Day’ (Cork/Galway) and a community music-making event, hosted in collaboration with Galway City of Culture 2020, also forms important parts of the fieldwork. Through multiple sites and types of data then, the potential of collective, group music-making opportunities in urban night scenes as spaces for interculturality will be thus highlighted.

The Irish project focuses on three main themes:

Cultural Participation: Where and how do the African diaspora make music at night in Cork and Galway? What motivates their participation? What kinds of formal and informal public night spaces are utilized? Who is participating?

Identity: What types of membership, roles and identities are formed and informed through collective musical endeavour? How are these identities ‘situated’ and projected within particular urban night spaces?

Integration and Belonging: How do these musical communities intersect and integrate with other communities across the two distinct urban landscapes? What is the relationship between the city, government support, venues, community and music amongst the African diaspora?