Ballina 2023: Colourful new mural in St Nicholas’ School by local artist celebrates Ballina’s vibrant natural heritage
The pupils of St Nicholas’ School in Ballina now have a brighter, more colourful schoolyard to enjoy, after a local artist designed and created a vibrant and detailed mural on the rear of the building supported by the Ballina 2023 Community Fund.
Emma Donoghue, who works as manager of social club Craoibhín Ballina, worked collaboratively with the help of the school, pupils and local volunteers during the July Summer Programme to paint a colourful scene inspired by the richness of the area’s natural landscape and biodiversity.
The carefully thought-out mural, consists of an abstract landscape with defined shapes and bright colours, transforming an outdoor space into a stimulating and visually appealing area, enhancing pupils’ enjoyment of the outdoors and enabling those with visual impairments to appreciate the scene.
Poignantly, in recognition of pupils from St Nicholas’ School who have passed away, a selection of beautiful dragonflies is featured in the artwork.
Principal of St Nicholas’ School, Clare Vesey-Brennan said: “This socially collaborative project was inclusive and created a great sense of achievement for all involved. The theme of the July Summer Programme 2023 was ‘Building Confidence and Connections, and this project reflected the theme most accurately.”
“Participation in the completion of this community mural on school grounds under Emma’s guidance was a particularly positive experience for our pupils, and opportunities for them to connect and be involved in projects like these ensures that they rightfully occupy a place at the forefront of our community.”
Ms Vesey-Brennan continued: “We extend our thanks and appreciation to all volunteers and those who generously donated paint for the project, and to those who attended and assisted in preparation for the gathering at St Nicholas’ School in September for our official unveiling of the mural.”
Artist Emma Donoghue said: “Seeing all the different community groups come together to create this really strong legacy piece tor the children was powerful and moving. We really wanted to create something beautiful and impactful for the pupils, as well as telling the story of the Ballina’s natural landscape in its 300th year”
Continuing, Ms Donoghue said: “The artwork is deliberately devoid of humans and their impact, focusing instead on the of the area’s rich, pure biodiversity and our natural heritage. The sunrise signifies a positive new beginning for the children in the school, and I think everyone who worked on the mural enjoyed the experience, and gained a new appreciation of abstraction and figurative work in its creation.”
A number of volunteers locally assisted with the ambitious mural, among them Tommy McMenamin and other members of the Craoibhín Inclusive Art Group, Craoibhín staff member Gabrielle Marsh, Maureen Lawlor of Centre Stage Vocal Academy, Local artist Val McLoughlin, Isabella Doyle, members of the Ballina 2023 Youth Programme and the Moy Valley Resources IRD Community Employment Scheme, funded by the Dept of Social Protection.
The mural includes references to Belleek Woods, the River Moy and Moy salmon, the Ox Mountains, and plants, flowers, animals and insects that can be found around Ballina.
The mural is one of 17 community projects funded by the Ballina 2023 Community Fund and was supported by Moy Valley Resources IRD. Photos of the mural can be found on the school website, www.saintnicholas.ie and at www.ballina2023.ie.