Sligo Tidy Towns/Young Model Mural

Had the absolute pleasure of working with the Young Model group from the Model Niland Gallery, Sligo to create a mural on the 500 feet of hoarding on the Connaughton Road in Sligo town a couple of weeks ago, funded by the Sligo Tidy Towns Committee.

Took 5 days in total to complete with the aid of the group, helped on by a healthy dose of wind and rain. For the section that follows along the road side I pre-planned the design so that I could get straight to work on the Monday morning. The section in the carpark was left in the very capable hands of the Young Model group who left their mark on the Sligo landscape.

Sligo is my hometown and there are various myths and folklore connected with the area, but for this mural I wanted to revisit two stories based around both of the iconic mountains visible from the town, Knocknarea and Benbulben. All characters were kept in black and white on a coloured background.

The wall first features W.B. Yeats, who shared a passion both for Sligo and Irish mythology.

Following on are images representing the story of  Diarmuid and Grainne

Sceolan and Bran, Fionn’s hounds sent to hunt down the fleeing couple.

Grainne, escaping by using a cloak of invisibility. Diarmuid preparing to fight his way out.

The boar that ultimately wounds and kills Diarmuid, in some instances also referred to by name as Benbulben/Bean Ghulbhan

Fionn had the power of healing if you drank from his cupped hands. He deliberately let water, carried from a river, trickle through his fingers twice before he reached the dying Diarmuid as he still held a grudge against him for taking Grainne away from him. On the third occasion he didn’t, but by the time he reached Diarmuid he had died. Grim times. Beside this image I drew a triskele to represent the three times Fionn went to the river.

Following on from this I painted the two bulls and Queen Medb(Meabh) from the Cattle Raid of Cooley/An Tain. Though in the story Donn Cuailnge is brown and Finnbhennach is white I still kept the design colourless.

And finally, the raven that proved that Cuchulainn had died by perching on his shoulder.

At the time that I had to pack up and get myself back up to Belfast the Young Model group had not yet completed the section in the carpark, hoping to get some shots of it soon. Last Saturday I also replicated a version of the Yeats design at another location in SLigo, Ballast Quay. This crumbling little building had ivy growing around it so I added this into the design as well.

Many thanks to Des and Declan from Sligo Tidy Towns, Lynda and the Young Model Group, Caroline and Brenda for transportion, Kevin for taking these photos and Aileen, Colin and Urs who brought me for hot lunches on the days that the weather was particularly nasty!

A wood carving artist called Michael Quirke, who is based in Sligo town and has a wee shop off the main street, is a fount of knowledge when it comes to local folklore and celtic mythology in general. When I was younger myself and my friends would call into his shop, he’d ask you what your favourite animal was, spin you a yarn, and present you with a little carving on an off-cut of wood to take home with you. The man is a legend and has certainly inspired me. Friends happened to be in his shop while I was painting the wall and mentioned what I was doing

and he carved this for me:

Made my day!!


….phew….that was a long post….

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