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Prof Helen Phelan

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Helen Phelan is Professor of Arts Practice at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, Ireland. She is an Irish Research Council recipient for her work on singing and new migrant communities in Ireland. Her most recent book, Singing the Rite to Belong: Music, Ritual and the New Irish, was published by Oxford University Press in 2017. As a singer, she specializes in chant from global religious ritual and is the co-founder of the female vocal group Cantoral who released the much acclaimed CD recording Let the Joyous Irish Sing Aloud! in 2014. She serves on the editorial boards of a number of journals including Frontiers in Psychology, The International Journal of Community Music and Experiments and Intensities: A Journal for Performance-as-Research.  She is founder of the Singing and Social Inclusion research group and a member of the University of Limerick Sanctuary board. Her primary research interests are in singing, ritual and migration as well as arts-based and arts practice research methods.


“Sonic Citizenship: Rites and Rights of Belonging in Ireland” in Ingalls, Monique M., Swijghuisen Reigersberg, Muriel and Sherinian, Zoe C. (eds.) Making Congregational Music Local in Christian Communities Worldwide. London and New York: Routledge (2018).

Phelan H., Hortus Delicarum / Garden of Delights: A Somatic Interpretation in Müller, S.  and Pusse, T. (eds.) Ego to Eco: Mapping Shifts from Anthropocentrism to Ecocentrism. Leiden: Brill Rodopi (2018). DOI:  

Phelan H., Singing the Rite to Belong: Music, Ritual and the New Irish, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2017). DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190672225.001.0001.

Phelan H. (2017), ‘The Untidy Playground: An Irish Congolese Case Study in Sonic Encounters with the Sacred Stranger’, Religions, 8 (11), 249.14. DOI:10.3390/rel8110249.

Phelan H., Navigatio: A Commissioned performance of song and chant from the Immram tradition,  Festival of Lifelong Learning, Limerick City Art Gallery (2017).   

Phelan H., Chappell D., Hennelly J. and Robert A.N. (2017), ‘The Irish World Music Café: Performing and Recording as Tools for Sustainable Social Integration’, Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 17.   DOI:10.15845/voices.v17i3.939.