Dart passengers encouraged to play new piano at Pearse Station

Musical distraction from stresses of commuting life installed at busy Dublin platform

Sing-songs around the piano may soon be a feature of Dublin commuter life as Iarnród Éireann installs a permanent upright in Pearse Street station.

In place on the southbound platform since Wednesday night the piano, it is hoped, will provide passing passengers both an opportunity to play, and musical distraction from the stresses of commuting life.

Piano-tuner John Murphy brought the idea to the company having seen the benefits of a public piano in train stations abroad, particularly in England.

"I had always thought it would be great to try it here and when I approached management here about a month ago they loved the idea and have really embraced it," he says. "So I bought the piano on Donedeal and sanded it down, painted it blue and then I asked artist Sarah Edmonson to decorate it."


Her specialisation, in sea-creature illustrations, suited the coastal route of the Dart-line and the piano and accompanying stool are brightly decorated with cheerful squid and octopus cartons.

Thursday morning saw adults and children playing both classical and contemporary pieces. Despite the constant hum of the arrival and departure of trains and passing crowds, the acoustics of the station ensured the music could be heard throughout.

Paul Butler, a piano teacher, not only played beautifully but also sang the Tom Waits classic Martha causing many just off the 10.10 Dart to stop and watch, with some filming on the their phones, before going on to the rest of their day.

"I have been playing since I was about 10. I was classically trained and though I didn't much enjoy the classes at the time I look back now and I am so glad I did it. I've seen pianos in stations in London and in Hungary. It's a great idea and I hope this is the first of many pianos in Irish train stations. Anyone from businessmen to builders can sit here and play."

Catherine Tyrrell, from Sutton, just in off the 10.16 from Bray was on her way to an Italian class, "I don't play but I do think it's a good idea. Listening to music will make a change to reading a book."

Serving in the Sobo coffee-shop on the platform, Catharina Ohana from Brazil described the music through the morning as "very beautiful".

“I can hear it in here. It gets very busy in the morning with the papers and the coffee, but I can hear the music. It’s very nice. We don’t have this in Brazil. It’s something different.”

Also at the piano were sisters Aela (10), Siún (9)and Eavan (9) O’Sullivan, all learning piano at the nearby Royal Academy of Music, played a number of classical pieces together and described the piano in the station as “cool”.

Some 30,000 passengers use Pearse Station, on 250 services, every day, with additional services at busy times . Iarnród Éireann spokeswoman Jane Cregan, said it was hoped the piano would not be vandalised or stolen, pointing out the station is locked between midnight and 6am every day, with staff present at all times.

“There is a late Dart service around Christmas running until about 2.30 am. There might well be some sing-songs around the piano then, even maybe a few carols,” she said.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times