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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 9 July, 2020

Historical mural ripped off Irish Life building and put in black bags

The mural had been part of the Irish Life Centre on Lower Abbey Street since 1987.

Updated 18:43

A POPULAR, LARGE-SCALE  mural on the northside of Dublin city centre was ripped down today and put in black bags.

The colourful mosaic – ‘Sweeney Astray’ – was well-known in the area and had been part of the Irish Life Centre on Lower Abbey Street since 1987.

The glass mosaic was comprised of 12 panels depicting the story of Sweeney’s wanderings through forests and hills, from prose and poems dating back to the 1600s and updated by Seamus Heaney in the early 1980s.

Derry artist Desmond Kinney, who completed the work 26 years ago, also has 29 other works around the city including on Nassau Street and on the AIB centre.

A reader who works in the Irish Life Centre told that the work was being removed with “hammers and put in black sacks” this afternoon.

She said the workmen were “removing another piece of Dublin’s heritage,” and asked, “could it not be preserved or restored instead of being torn off the wall with hammers?”

Aramark, the property management company that looks after the Irish Life Centre, had to take down the mural as it has been damaged and is rotting underneath. In a statement today, Irish Life Group said that it is “following best practice guidelines” and that it has the agreement of the artist.

The company said it is removing that artwork from public display “due to safety concerns following irreparable weather damage”.

The mural, which was installed 27 years ago at Abbey Court garden, has suffered significant damage and erosion to its underlying hanging structure, caused by weather, which only became apparent in recent months leading to loss of a significant portion of the tiles. Irish Life Group, advised by Business to Arts, made contact with the artist to alert him of the damage, and commissioned reports from both a noted ceramic conservationist and public art consultancy on the possibilities of repairing the work. However, this is not economically viable due to the sheer scale of the structural damage to the work.

The mosaic materials will now be stored by the company which is in dialogue with the National College of Art and Design “with a view to a future decision on how best to use them”.

(Images a reader)

First published 16:42

- Additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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