Ringsend Electronic Music School RMS: Rooney Music Services

Louise Whelan

RMS is an electronic music school and entertainment business that offers DJ tuition, music production, audio recording, editing skills and also caters to corporate and private events. Located at the back of Ringsend and Irishtown Community Centre (RICC) it is run by local entrepreneur Pierce Rooney and has been growing over the past six years.

Pierce, a self-taught DJ with over 30 years experience, and over 20 years teaching, grew up in the 80’s, a time where things were hard for a lot of people and families. He always had a passion for music and got into it during his teen years when he used to go to his nanny Rooney’s flat in O’Rahilly house after school. She had an old radiogram from the 1940’s and he was fascinated with the records and how it worked. Pierce inherited that radiogram after his nanny passed away in the late 80’s and had it in his bedroom. His older sister Christine would buy vinyl records to play and Pierce used to ‘borrow them’ to scratch them on the radiogram. He then got his first set of decks and he used the radiogram for the stand to hold the decks and he learned how to mix through turntables.

After the radiogram phase, Pierce got signed to some good labels like Tripoli Tracks and Tidy and moved to the UK on and off for nearly 11 years working for various producers, doing gigs and working with different bands. He travelled the world djing some of the biggest events and meeting people that he’d always looked up to.

Pierce has his own record label called Unity Records since 2005 and released his own music, which he is still doing today. After a lot of globetrotting, he decided to come back home to Ringsend with his dream of opening a music school and being able to teach on a bigger scale. In order to save on rent and keep his prices low he approached the Community Centre (RICC) and outlined to them his vision for the community. They took Pierce in and he started RMS off in the Youth Centre up in Irishtown (RICCY’S) in 2016 with a few laptops and some controllers where he could run classes focusing on digital and analogue djing and a small bit of music production. After three years, and receiving a Sean Moore Community Award in 2018 for all his amazing work with the youth, Pierce was offered space at the back of the community centre to rent and his dream of a music school began to materialise in earnest. In a twist of fate, behind the wall is where his nanny Rooney lived in the flats and where it all began for Pierce so it was kind of a serendipitous moment that came full circle where RMS was going to live and thrive.

Students who excelled

Raymond Alwright, despite having Down Syndrome, wouldn’t let anything stop him from his dream of becoming a DJ, was one of the first to knock on Pierce’s door in RICCYS. Raymond was so eager to learn he never missed a class and at the end of the first year he won the award for best DJ. Under Pierce’s guidance and support, Raymond found employment in the local pub, The Shipwright (Sally’s) to DJ on a Saturday night and they loved him down there. Raymond’s confidence has soared since and he is pushing through to his next goal which is to dj in the nightclubs. Raymond’s parents are so proud of their son and cannot thank Pierce enough for all his dedication and commitment throughout the years with Raymond.

Another of his protégés is Holly Larkin, who joined RMS when she was just nine years old and has exceeded all expectations of a natural talent. She has blossomed from a youngster into a young woman of 16 playing in some of the biggest clubs in the country. Holly has a residency with Insignia Nights and she plays to 1200 under 18’s a couple of times a month in a controlled environment. Holly has been on RTE, and she is getting some amazing experiences. She also teaches and helps the after-school group with all the knowledge she has learned so far. She is inspiring so many young kids and proving nothing is impossible if you keep believing.

Pierce first set up RMS with the aid of I.C.E. (Inner City Enterprise) and he started to build his school with all his DJ equipment, state of the art software and hardware from old school analogue all the way up to the digital age. He has software which is the foundation of the way music sounds, machines like the TR808, TR909, TV303 among others which without these, we wouldn’t know dance music, techno, acid house and hip hop.
Most people don’t start learning this industry until they’re 17 or 18 because that’s when the club scene is more in their life, but in RMS Pierce offers kids and young adults the gift of learning everything about DJs, Djing and all the various different levels that he has set up in the school.

Pierce has also a connection with BIFE (Bray Institute of Further Education) a college dedicated to electronic music production, and collaborates with Doug Cooney and Sunil Sharpe who are teachers in the college. So students of Pierce’s aged 15 or 16, and coming to the end of secondary school, who wish to pursue a 3rd level course in music, can progress to BIFE. Conor Cullen was the first of the students to graduate from RMS to BIFE and has passed with distinction in all of his classes. Conor djs for events and parties and has the talent to go far. Pierce advises and encourages all the students to go onto 3rd level education if that is what they wish to do.

Some students don’t necessarily want to be DJ’s but they find other aspects of the club enjoyable, like the social aspect, learning to work within groups, learning to interact with each other and that makes a huge difference to their way of thinking and how they do things. Everybody benefits from RMS, the community as a whole, the local businesses, and especially the kids.

Pierce’s ethos is one love, one family, regardless of your status or ability. Anyone is welcome and he has many kids from all around Dublin, not just Ringsend. It is such a unique thing that Pierce does down in RMS, it’s never been about making a lot of money, it’s about improving and bettering people’s lives and that is a beautiful thing to see.

He also works with a lot of different organisations in the community and only recently added a new class to the schedule, a music and gaming club for the older kids from NIRP (Neurodiversity Irishtown Ringsend & Pearse St) and they are having a wonderful time. Furthermore RMS gets involved in charity-based events and always offers their services to the community when needed. Also Pierce liaises with the local Gardaí and is very proactive in approaching youths who might be showing signs of anti-social behaviour, and invites them down to RMS to chill out, play some pool, video games or just have a chat. He has a good relationship with these kids and they respect him too.

At the moment Pierce is a sole trader but is in the process of being a non-profit organisation and this will enable him to apply for financial grants that will hugely benefit the school and its students.

It was music that brought Pierce here to where he is now, music grabbed him and changed his life.

He possesses an endless array of knowledge and technical expertise while also being so grounded, selfless and easy going with an incredible work ethic. What he has aimed to achieve down here, he has done ten fold across the board, smashing so many goals and always adding new ones. The things Pierce has dreamed about for the students are all coming to fruition and this makes him so proud to see them on their journey with music, as young kids developing into young adults.

And that is why our community is so lucky to have Pierce Rooney.

Classes at RMS are all inclusive, and the time breakdown is as follows:

The differently-abled group is from 12-2pm every day; then after school the 6 to 10 year olds is from 3-4.30pm; and the 11 to 15 year olds 5-7pm; and the last class is from 7-9pm and is aimed at those 15 and older. The RMS provides the computers, controllers, food, entertainment and a safe environment and it’s like a little family where music bridges the gap between everyone. Pierce also does private lessons for any age on a one-to-one basis.

RMSdublin can be found on Instagram

Images: courtesy of Pierce Rooney