Project Description

Now complete, this is a series of 12 portraits of County Clare based interesting and inspiring community shapers. Through doing local radio interviews and getting the project advertised through articles in the local paper The Clare Champion, people came forward themselves to participate, or families nominated a late family member to be painted.

This is an important project as it bridges fine art portraiture with urban street art. It’s my experience that in some cases when people get older, they can, for various reasons, disappear from society, spending more times indoors and possibly being in less of a position to be out and about in the community.  I wanted to place these important community shapers front and centre in the public eye, so they can be seen and appreciated by the current and hopefully also a new generation of people who inhabit and who visit Ennis, Co Clare. The electrical boxes are on street corners, down laneways, on footpaths, and generally situated in incongruous sites around Ennis town. All are accessible by foot. The feedback has been that people come across them unexpectedly and enjoy encountering them as they go about their business.

This project has been supported by Clare Arts Office and aided by Clare County Council who provided the Electrical boxes.

Portrait participants and their locations :

Dermot Hayes. Co Clare born community figure and social and political activist. Located in Abbey Street Carpark, Ennis, Co Clare, beside the River Fergus.

Gerry Abraham, Co Clare born community figure instrumental in founding the social dancing scene here in Ennis and around Clare. Located on Abbey Street opposite Wood Quay, Ennis.

Kathleen Bolger, born in Ballyea, Co Clare, resident of Ennis town. Kathleen ran Metcalfe’s general groceries and newsagents shop on New Road, Ennis until the arrival of Tesco, which brought about the end of many small businesses in the area. This cabinet is located in the lane between Abbey Street and Upper Market Street, Ennis, Co Clare.

Madge O’ Callaghan, the writer and award winning radio documentary producer, is no 4 in a series of 12 portraits of Co Clare based interesting and inspiring community shapers. Madge’s portrait is located on the corner of Abbey Street, and Carmody Street, Ennis, Co Clare.

Tomsie O’ Sullivan, no 5 in the series of 12 portraits of interesting community shapers, painted on electrical boxes in Ennis, Co Clare. In the words of his son Owen, ‘Dad passed away St. Patrick’s Day 2022 at a fine age of 90. Born and reared in Lahinch. His mother Susan O’ Sullivan nee Flanagan had a shop and pub in Lahinch- now Daybreak and Flanagans pub. He ran the shop in the 60s and 70s before turning it into a Laundrymat the first in Munster. He had a caravan park self catering houses. One of the founder and original members of the committee for Lahinch Development, now the Sea World centre.
he was chairman of Clare Tourist council. He was in several organisations inc Social services, St Vincent de Paul , friends of Ennistymon Hospital , Founder of Clare RNLI and from his hard work got the Kilronan life boat where it is today. He was a Commandant in the FCA. He was involved in the Irish guide dogs, and many more organisations. He was an activist and wanted the best for Clare and Lahinch. He was also a PC ( peace commissioner ).
When he passed Rescue 115 hovered over the church in Lahinch as a mark of respect. He dedicated his life to search and rescue and had a great relationship with all the coast guard. He set up Lahinch rescue in the 1980s before we had the coast guard. ‘. Tomsie’s portrait is located in O’ Hallorans lane between Parnell St Carpark and Parnell Street, Ennis.

Gabriel Moylan, no 6 in the portrait series of community figures from Co Clare. Gabriel, also known as ‘Champ’, passed away in 2022 and was. He was a well known figure in Ennis, Co Clare, to be seen out and about on the streets waving and smiling to everyone who passed him.  This piece is located at the end of Francis Street, where it meets O’ Connell Street, Ennis.

Bernie Brann, no 7 in the portrait series of community figures from Co Clare. Her box is located on Clonroad Beg, around the corner from O Connell Street, Ennis.

Eleanor Feely, artist and actor, no 8 in the portrait series of community figures from Co Clare. Eleanor is Artist in Residence in St Hospital, Ennis and is Director of Clare Youth Theatre. Her box is located on Francis Street, Ennis, in front of the Poor Clares Monastery.

The late Biddy and Paschal Galvin are no 9 and 10 in a series of 12 portraits of Co Clare based interesting and inspiring community shapers. Biddy and Paschal’s portrait is Located on the corner of Upper Market St, Ennis, Co Clare, outside Kelly’s Butchers. Biddy and Paschals niece shared some information from their lives: Biddy fostered 120 babies over 20 years for Clare Social Services and was honoured with a plaque by St Catherine’s Adoption Society some years before she passed away in January 2005. Paschal worked for Tom Kelly’s butchers in Market Street and lived over the shop with his wife Biddy for several years after they married. Went to work for Clare County Council as a general operative where he was well known around the town as the lollipop man for the children at Ennis National School helping them across the road at Kilrush Cross. Died unexpectedly one month after his wife Biddy in February 2005.

Sheelagh Lennon is number 11 in a series of 12 portraits of Co Clare based interesting and inspiring community shapers. Sheelagh’s portrait is located in Friars Walk carpark, Ennis, Co Clare. I first met Sheelagh when I was painting a mural in Tulla and she stopped to chat. I thought she had such an interesting and beautiful face I asked if she would participate in this project, and she graciously agreed. I used yellow as the background colour as Sheelagh was wearing a primrose yellow sweater when I visited her home, so it reminded me of her.

Jimmy Burke is no 12 in a series of 12 portraits of Co Clare based interesting and inspiring community shapers. Jimmy’s portrait is located on Francis Street, just around the corner from The Queens Hotel, Ennis, Co Clare. Jimmy Burke was born 1919 in Newmarket on Fergus, worked with his father bringing hazels on a horse and cart to build banks for new Shannon airport in 1930s. Small farmer and worked in Airport for 45 years. Cross country athlete, won 6 All Ireland medals and numerous other medals and trophies between 1936 and 1950. Thanks so much to Geraldine Jimmy’s daughter for nominating Jimmy