Thursday, September 22, 2022

A STUNNING street mural has been unveiled in Mountmellick in advance of Culture Night tomorrow.

The fabulous swift mural at Butch’s Bar is now in flight and will be officially launched at a ceremony in Mountmellick Community School next door at 5.30pm this Friday.

The mural is located on the gable end of the pub owned by Gearóid Horan and was created by renowned street artist James Kirwan.

Mountmellick native Ricky Whelan of BirdWatch Ireland, who worked with James on the project, said: “The town is a stronghold within Laois for these charismatic and threatened birds, which is something we should all celebrate and be vigilant to protect into the future. Mountmellick has a wonderful cultural heritage and I am so proud to see its rich natural heritage enshrined by the swift mural.”

Wexford-born James said he was “very interested and excited” when Creative Ireland Laois asked him to paint the mural, especially because he loves swifts, so it was an added bonus to work closely with Ricky and learn even more about these fascinating birds.

Laois County Council heritage officer Catherine Casey explained: “We are delighted to be launching this wonderful mural, as it represents the coming together of the biodiversity of Laois through the swift and the creative artistic side of the county through the medium of street art.

“As swifts are such an urban bird, living in our towns and villages, I can’t think of a better subject for a large-scale street mural.  This project will raise awareness of the importance of Mountmellick for swifts and also the other work being done to survey and conserve swifts across Laois, with the support of the Heritage Council and the Local Biodiversity Action Fund.”

A small migratory bird that arrives from Africa each May to breed and departs by August, the swift is more common in urban areas and builds cupped nests in small crevices in buildings, as well as in the eaves of houses. Swifts pair for life and return to the same nest site for many years, spending most of their lives in flight, drinking, feeding, mating and even sleeping in the air.

Weighing about 40 grams, they are among the fastest of birds and Ireland’s swift is able to reach speeds of over 110km/h.

An experienced artist based in Dublin, James favours bold colours and has a keen interest in the protection of birds and their habitats. He is scheduled to return in October for a creative workshop with art students in Mountmellick CS, which will explore his street artworks and techniques, his interest in nature and his use of abstract shapes.

Laois County Council and BirdWatch Ireland said they were very grateful to Gearóid Horan for the use of his building and to Mountmellick CS principal Larry Curtin and deputy principal Frances Kerry La Rosa for their support.

Other Culture Night activities in the county will include the Fadó Faces exhibition at the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, which celebrates the lives and stories of local older people through traditional portrait painting and digital art by a selection of local artists: Bronagh Conroy, Aishling Hennessy, Ray Murphy, Kevin McCann, Mike Rafter, Pauline Conroy, Antoinette Breen, Kate Deegan, Allen Scully and Mark Fisher. The exhibition is open to the public until Friday 30 September, from 10am-5pm on Tuesday through to Saturday.

More information about Culture Night is available from Laois arts office at 057 8664033/8664192 or [email protected] and on the website.

A close-up of the fabulous mural. Photos:




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