vital signs IN A VAN

Fostering healing and resilience through poetry and song.

Vital Signs Tour

Curated by poet and editor Martin Dyar and guided by the poetry anthology Vital Signs, this tour brought poets and musicians to staff and clients in care homes, community hospitals and day care centres across the country. 

These exciting gigs were followed up by workshops and Poetry SOS clinics, run by Poetry Ireland for Festival in a Van, where poets prescribed poems to help and support care and health workers. These ran throughout September and into October 2023.

View Events Schedule



This special tour with Poetry Ireland took place in Louth, Dublin, Waterford, Monaghan, Cavan, Longford, and Roscommon during August 2023.

VITAL SIGNS featured many of Ireland’s best poets and musicians, offering a series of new gigs that focused on health, healing and wellbeing. First piloted in Mayo last December, and leaving a vapour trail of heart-warming joy and delight, this work was shared far and wide as this curated collection of poets and singer-songwriters took part in pop-up gigs around the country.

Festival in a Van is very grateful to the Arts Council, Poetry Ireland, Louth County Council, Dublin City Council, Waterford City & County Council, Monaghan County Council, Cavan County Council, Roscommon County Council and Mental Health Ireland.

This project is in partnership with Poetry Ireland and is supported by the Arts Council.

Vital signs tour 2023

Watch back: online seminar

To celebrate the close of the Vital Signs tour, we presented an online seminar to discuss insights and key learnings from the tour.

For this one-hour online lunchtime seminar, Martin Dyar, poet, editor, and curator of the Vital Signs tour, was joined in conversation by Ger Walsh (Mental Health Ireland) and Enda Wyley (poet) and Emer Mayock (musician) to share their experiences of bringing the arts into healthcare settings. The Festival in a Van team Elizabeth Mohen (Director) and Anne Hendrick (Project Manager) opened and closed the seminar with a few words of their own.

recent events


Trudie Gorman facilitated a free two-hour creative writing workshop at Ballyfermot Library: 'Writing the Body: Poetry and Disability'.

Tuesday 24 October | Dublin

Enda Wyley hosted a Poetry SOS Clinic for staff at The Rotunda in Dublin. This private clinic was for hospital staff.

Monday 16 October | MONAGHAN

11:00 - 14:00: Mairéad Donnellan hosted a Poetry SOS Clinic at Carrickmacross Library.

various dates in OCTOBER | Cavan

Healing Poetry with Noel Monahan

Noel Monahan facilitated several free workshops at Cootehill Library which reflected on themes of healing.

various dates in OCTOBER | Waterford

Lani O'Hanlon facilitated three workshops at Dungarvan Community Hospital. These private workshops were for staff and residents.

various dates in OCTOBER | Roscommon

Amy Abdullah Barry facilitated three workshops at Sacred Heart Hospital. These private workshops were for staff and residents.

various dates in OCTOBER | Monaghan

Steve Lally facilitated three storytelling workshops in Monaghan at Castleross Nursing Home and Cloughvalley Day Care Centre. These private workshops were for staff and residents.


Translating the Painting - Poetry and Healing with Enda Coyle-Greene took place in several libraries across Louth, inviting workshop participants to explore the intersection of creativity and healing.


Frank Farrelly facilitated a Poetry SOS Clinic in the Old Market House Arts Centre, Dungarvan.


Nithy Kasa delivered a Poetry SOS Clinic at Louth County Museum.

Mairead Donnellan delivered a Poetry SOS Clinic at Bailieborough Library, Cavan

Gerry Boland delivered a Poetry SOS Clinic at Roscommon Arts Centre

Friday 23 September | DUBLIN

Trudie Gorman facilitated two free writing workshops at Pearse Library as part of Culture Night.

14:30: Everyday Revolutions: Writing Working-Class Stories
18:00 Healing Words: Writing our Stories

Tues 29 August 2023 | ROSCOMMON

Poet and dramatist Terry McDonagh with musical duo Emer Mayock and Donal Siggins visited Sacred Heart Hospital & Care Home, Arás Mathar Phoil, and Plunkett Community Nursing Unit

Mon 28 August 2023  | LONGFORD

Widely published and highly regarded Longford-based poet Mary Melville Geoghegan read her work along with classical singer Josephine Dolan at Glenavon Community Residence, Longford Day Care Centre, and Ashford Community Residence in partnership with Mental Health Ireland (PRIVATE COMMUNITY EVENTS)

Tues 22 August 2023 | CAVAN

Belfast poet Stephen Sexton and harpist Alannah Thornburgh visited Clogher House Day Activation Unit, Virginia Day Activation Unit and Irish Wheelchair Association Cavan (PRIVATE COMMUNITY EVENTS)

Mon 21 August 2023  | MONAGHAN

Poet and fiction-writer Mary O’Donnell visited Castleross Care Home and Ann’s Care Home (PRIVATE COMMUNITY EVENT) with music and song from long time collaborators Stephen Doherty and David Doocey. The tour then moved to Rossmore Park (PUBLIC - 4.30pm)

Wed 16 August 2023 | WATERFORD

Local poet Clodagh Beresford and Waterford folk artist, songwriter and poet, Tadhg Williams visited Dungarvan Community Hospital and Care Choice Dungarvan as well as Cappoquin Community Centre at 17.15.

Tues 15 August 2023 | DUBLIN

Poet Nithy Kasa performed alongside storytelling musician Fin Furey, composer and musician Michael Flemming with singer-songwriter Alison Quigley for visits to Willie Bermingham Place Housing Community (Alone), Mary’s Hospital, and Killarney Court Housing Community.

Mon 14 August 2023 | LOUTH

Lyric poet Tom French was joined by Irish folk musician Seán Mathews for visits to Drogheda Care Hall, Ardee Community Centre at 14.15 as well as Market Square Dundalk at 17.15