Murals with PJ Lynch

Photo PJ took just as Niamh and myself began to work on our walls.

As part of his Laureate na nÓg Big Picture project, my good pal and birthday bud, PJ Lynch took on the task of organising SIX permanent murals (or muriels, as we say in Dublin) for a school in Cork, the very lovely Gaelscoil Mhainistir na Corann in Midleton. He invited Niamh Sharkey, Chris Judge, Lauren O’Neill, Michael and myself to join him and each take on a wall. Here are some photos of each mural as it happened, from blank to finished – click on the first photo to get larger images and some notes on what’s happening. Then keep clicking right.

PJ’s wall; The Children of Lir

Niamh’s wall; the King of Ireland

Lauren’s wall; Gulliver in Lilliput

Chris’s wall; Irish Creatures, Past & Present

My wall; image from The Long March

The school requested an image from my book The Long March (see two previous blogposts) as Midleton is home to the Feathers sculpture which commemorates the Choctaw gift to Ireland in 1847.

The whole team -Niamh Sharkey, Chris Judge, Jenny Murray (CBI), Lauren O’Neill, me, Aingeala (L na nÓg project manager), PJ Lynch – Laureate na nÓg.

Aingeala and Jenny looked after us so well (of course) and the school laid on a constant supply of sandwiches and scones and smiles and encouragement plus a laughter-filled night with the teachers at Muinteoir GrĂĄinne’s on Saturday night. Unfortunately Michael was sick – whooping cough – and missed the trip, but he will tackle a wall for the school in May or June. We’ll add photos then.

Top photo of Niamh and myself beginning our murals is one PJ quietly snapped from the return of the stairs.

Irish Legends and Belfast Murals


Amongst the various murals we were shown in Belfast were these two, standing near each other in Shankill. One shows the Irish hero, CĂșchulainn. Apparently he regularly features on murals from both sides of the divide.

‘The image of CĂș Chulainn is invoked by both Irish nationalists and Ulster unionists. Irish nationalists see him as the most important Celtic Irish hero, and thus he is important to their whole culture. By contrast, unionists see him as an Ulsterman defending the province from enemies to the south.

Like all Irish folk I know the legend of CĂșchulainn from my schooldays; the story of the how the Red Hand became the symbol of Ulster (on the other hand) was new to me. Our taxi driver/guide told us that there are many versions but they all involve a race between two boats.

The boats are racing for the leadership of the province of Ulster -whoever  touches land first will win.  As one boat draws in front the captain of the second ship draws his sword, chops off his own hand and throws it to shore, thus becoming (with his blood -red hand) the first to touch land.


The end of every row of houses in this Unionist estate are painted. You can see how imposing the murals are – look how tiny Michael is beside that hand. The hand turns up on everything, including Belfast beer!