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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 9 July, 2020

Here's an unusual way to raise €20k for the homeless (and see a new side to Dublin)

The power of music.

Donal Lunny
Donal Lunny

MUSIC IS A powerful thing – and when you get a group of music makers and music lovers together, you can create something very special.

Siobhán Kane, a freelance journalist and music writer, knows this more than most. And with her Young Hearts Run Free collective events, she’s proved that a good gig can also benefit those who really need help.

Over the past six years, the Young Hearts collective has raised €20,000 for Simon Community, helping the homeless in Dublin while bringing music to some of the capital’s more unusual locations.

Young Hearts Run Free

It all started with a birthday party: Kane wanted to throw a bash of her own, having usually shied away from big events like this. “I never had birthday parties when I was little, as I hated them,” she says.

Gathering her friends, many of whom are musicians or DJs, and putting on a gig was her way of doing it. Another friend was on hand to supply the cake.

“It was just an excuse for a party,” she says of the night, which she held in Taylor’s Lane in Dublin’s Christchurch. “It ended up as a big hooley.”

She had volunteered for the Simon Community over the years, and wanted to help out more. “I thought: why don’t I just do a party but for the public, in somewhere like this, in the same vein? And make it almost like a birthday party in a weird way, but then all the money goes to Simon.”

Though she says it “seemed like a crazy thing to do”, with her connections she had soon gathered a group of enthusiastic performers. She got the venue for free, made it an all-day event, and ended up having to turn people away from the packed gig.

“I thought, ‘oh my God – there’s something in it’,” she says of that time. It really came into its own in 2009, when she held a three-night event for the DEAF music festival, and since then Young Hearts Run Free has consistently held gigs in unusual venues across Dublin.

Loving Dublin


Using non-typical venues is one of YHRF’s key draws. “I thought, we’ve got such a great city – why not get into these spaces people are not used to, and take it into new venues?” Kane was “almost giddy” at the thought of exploring the city with others, and bringing music to formerly silent rooms.

Just like raising money for those in need, she sees this aspect as part of her civic responsibility as someone who lives in Dublin (she’s originally from Mayo). “It’s so easy to give out about things,” she says. “For me, it was a big thing saying ‘let’s love our city’, because so many people give out so much and so many things go wrong.”

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“I find it much more interesting to bring a musician out of the traditional context and put it somewhere that’s more intimate or unusual,” she adds.

A recent trip to Simon’s detox and recovery programme to meet participants helped her see with fresh eyes where the Young Hearts Run Free money goes too.

“It was really humbling,” she says.

It just reconnects me back to where the money goes. Sometimes I’ve been down with Young Hearts, when things aren’t maybe so well-attended. But then I think: ‘That’s why I do it’.

Over the six years that the gigs have been going, one Young Hearts Run Free highlight that stands out is a night in the Civic Museum.

Inside it was like an oasis of calm. It was like a little secret. And I thought: ‘That’s why I love this city’.

Young Hearts Run Free will hold ‘Yule’, a Christmas event with artists including Dónal Lunny, Brigid Power Ryce, the Jimmy Cake and Temper-Mental MissElayneous, from 7.15pm to late on Saturday 6 December at Dublin’s CO-OP, 12 Newmarket, Dublin 8.

Read: In his own words: Jonathan Corrie on homelessness – and hoping for a chance>

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