The Great Famine Mural
Artist in Residence Project – Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc

Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc was born in 1984 in Co Clare and has been living on Cape Clear Island the past few winters..

Pádraig achieved an honours degree in History, Archaeology and Celtic Civilisation in Dublin University in 2002. He is very interested in the Celtic languages particularly Irish and Welsh, Folklore, Art, traditional crafts and calligraphy.

He has spent the last four years perfecting traditional Celtic style penmanship on velum and has participated in a number of collaborative projects with other artists and craftsmen. His works can be seen in the Caggaunowen Heritage project, Co Clare, The National History park in Wexford, La Café des Celta, Sonetc in Brittany and here in Club Cléire.

His manuscripts have won praise from recognised experts in the field including Timothy O Neill, the author of ‘Airy Plume Heights’ and Dr Dorothy Kelly, of University College Dublin, an authority on Celtic Art.

Pádraig also practises various traditional crafts including weaving and items made from straw, rushes, sallys and other traditional materials.

In 2007 Cape Clear Co Op which owns Club Cléire successfully applied to Ealaíon na Gaeltachta Teo for funding under their Artist in Residence program to enable Pádraig to implement a collaborative Art project on the Island. The theme chosen was The Great Irish Famine which reached its perk at this time 150 years ago ( 1847). The proposal is to develop a number of murals on removable marine plywood panels which can be erected on an old timber cladded timber shed directly across from the Club and defining the entrance area. When the shed is redeveloped as planned in the next few years the panels can be temporarily removed while construction takes place.

Pádraig’s brief is to carry out this project through collaboration and interaction with the various local stakeholders, senior citizens, young people, other artists and others interested in contributing to the project.

We are very proud of the last collaborative project in the Island which was inspired by the Millennium Celebrations and spearheaded by the Island National School, Scoil Náisiúnta Inis Chléire. This involved the re building and re routing of a stone wall in the South Harbour area to create a small amenity area overlooking the Harbour. This was decorated by various artefacts all of which were designed free by local artists. The wall itself was erected in three days from December 27 to the 30th 1999 by voluntary effort . There were approximately 30 people involved ranging from 6 to 70 years of age. To this day the small garden which was created is maintained by the local school children.

Another cooperativeproject was ‘Bóithrín na Smaointe, A Miscellany of Cape Clear Memories which was published in 2006. This is a collection of island folklore collect by Nuala Hayes from older members of the island community. These are interspersed with a series of black and white photographs take by renowned photographer John Minihane. The originals can be seen in the Club. This book was published by Cape Clear Red Cross Group, which is very active locally with support from Age & Opportunity, Cork 2005, Skibbereen Credit Union, Údarás na Gaeltachta, West Cork Arts Centre, The NDP Program and Drinagh Co Op.

Part of the brief for this new project is that Pádraig will continue his interactions with our community to promote various aspects of our art and culture while enriching his own knowledge of the language and improving his musical skills .In this regard his efforts have had considerable success to date.

In the Autumn of 2006 for the first time in many years Pádraig promoted the making of traditional straw costumes which are normally worn by the ‘Wren Boys’. These are musicians and singers who traditionally visit the various homes in an area on St Stephens Day, the Day after Christmas Day. The year 2006 saw the ‘Wren tradition’ restored to Cape Clear Island and the group were give a heartfelt welcome throughout the Island. St Stephens Day 2007 saw even more elaborate costumes and more musicians/singers.

In the run up to Christmas 2007 Pádraig also conducted a number of craft work shops with more planned. Thanks also to Pádraig the various musicians and aspiring musician/singers on the Island are coming together more regularly than before and the store of music and song is improving both in quantity and quality.

We show some of the preliminary sketches prepared by Pádraig for this project . These have been prepared after extensive research including visiting and photographing mural art work in other parts of the country, particularly Northern Ireland which this art form is most prevalent.

Following various local consultations it was agreed to change the theme of the mural which will now feature an image of St Ciarán, the Islands Patron Saint, an image of the fishing industry in the 19th Century and an image of various Island writers and poets. Some of the preliminary sketches are enclosed below.

In this part of the website we plan to keep you as up to date as possible on the project as it unfolds in all its various aspects and invite your response and participation. Those of us fortunate enough to live on the Island recognize the wider community of those who for one reason or another have Cape Clear Island in their thoughts and hearts and welcome your assistance and input in whatever way possible. We can be contacted at info@clubcleire.com

We also gratefully acknowledge the support of Ealaíon na Gaeltachta Teo for this project and will make every effort to deliver a worthwhile project.