THIS NO LONGER EXISTS – SWEENEY ASTRAY BY DESMOND KINNEY
I had believed that this was named Sweeney’s Ashtray.
The photographs date from 2011 so the quality is not as good as I would like. This mural was located at the Irish Life Center [now the Talbot Mall] on Lower Abbey Street.
I photographed this in March 2011 but in July 2013 it was removed. According to one report ” A historical mural was ripped off Irish Life building and put in black bags”.
My understanding is that such murals have a limited life expectancy especially if they are not well maintained.
Derry artist Desmond Kinney, who completed the work 26 more than thirty years ago, had 29 other works around the city including on Nassau Street and on the AIB centre.
The art work – Sweeney Astray – was a glass mosaic consisting of twelve 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.
Desmond Kinney (1934-2014) was born in Portstewart, Co. Derry in 1934 and studied at the Belfast College of Art where his contemporaries included Basil Blackshaw, T.P. Flanagan and Cherith McKinstry. In the 1960’s, Kinney established the innovative graphic design studio Kinney/Dobson, the first of its kind in Ireland to achieve International recognition. Kinney is also well-known for his very large-scale murals, mainly in mosaic.
In 1971 Desmond Kinney designed the The Song of Wandering Aengus mosaic for AIB bank inD ublin. He was influenced by Seamus Heaney to use the poem by WB Yeats and this interior mosaic symbolises the last lines of the poem:
I will find out where she has gone…. And pluck till time and times are done The silver apples of the moon
The golden applies of the sun.
The AIB mosaic was removed from Dublin in the 80s and found a home in the Glucksman Library Board Room foyer some time later. The University of Limerick has further links with this poem as the crèche is called Silver Apples after the poem and the last 3 lines of the poem are carved on the foundation stone of the University.
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