U2 are set to play six shows, in Belfast and Dublin, during their sell out tour iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE European Tour, this November. The Irish rockers have announced that they will donate $2.2 million (€2m) from these shows to Music Generation, Ireland’s national music education programme.

Music Generation provides high quality subsidized music tuition to some 26,000 children and young people. It was originally set up with $5 million (€5m) in funding from U2’s Croke Park shows in 2009, along with a further $2.2 million (€2m) raised by The Ireland Funds. These donations represent the largest ever philanthropic donation to music education in Ireland in the history of the state.

The core objective of Music Generation is to provide access for children and young people - annually the programme now reaches some 26,000 children and young people in 12 areas of the country. Music Generation also provides employment opportunities, especially for musicians - the programme has a workforce now of some 330 people, over 300 of these are musicians.

Ultimately Music Generation wants to achieve a sustainable outcome that would live beyond the term of the $7.8 million (€7m) gift and not become another arts education project that was only as good as the money lasted - through partnership a sustainable model has been created. Music Generation is managed by Music Education Partnerships (MEP’s). The programme is in Carlow, Clare, Cork City, Laois, Louth, Limerick City, Mayo, Offaly/Westmeath, Sligo, South Dublin and Wicklow.

The further $2.2 million from the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour will go a long way to further expanding and maintaining the programme.

The tour kicked off in May in Vancouver to rave reviews and the US leg saw the band joined onstage by specials guests including Jimmy Fallon, Bruce Springsteen, and Lady Gaga, as they performed songs from across their career.

The iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour is the first time the band will perform songs from their recent album “Songs of Innocence” to a home crowd. The album released last year, charts the group’s earliest experiences of growing up in Dublin influenced by 70s rock, punk and early 80s electronica and gives insight into how and why U2 came together. With its themes of home and family in songs such as “Cedarwood Road,” “Iris (Hold Me Close)” and “Raised by Wolves,” which deals with the impact of the ‘74 Dublin/Monaghan bombings, “Songs of Innocence” charts the end of the time of innocence for all four band members and their friends, as teens growing up.

The iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE European Tour 2015 will finish with two shows in Belfast (November 18 & 19) and four shows in Dublin (November 23 & 24, 27 & 28). For full details see www.U2.com/tour.