Buile Shuibhne mural destroyed

Sweeney Astray, the mosaic mural at the Irish Life Centre on Abbey Street in Dublin, by Desmond Kinney, the same artist who made the Setanta Wall pictured above, was seriously damaged by a storm in February. When I saw it a few weeks ago, the damaged section was loosely and ineffectively covered by black plastic, but a large part was intact. Now the entire mural has been removed, with the approval of the artist and various experts, and the mosaic pieces will be donated to the National College of Art and Design for recycling. The artwork depicts the popular story called in Irish Suibhne Gealt (Mad Sweeney) or Buile Shuibhne (The Frenzy of Sweeney), about the king who was driven mad by the noise of the AD 637 Battle of Moira near Belfast and took to living in trees, believing he was a bird. Words are from Seamus Heaney’s 1983 poem “Sweeney Astray”.

I took these photos in 2005. The piece was too wide to get in one shot. Click to enlarge.

Sweeneyleft

Sweeneycentre

Sweeneyright

Sweeneytext

This text was on the wall around the corner from the mural. If the work is salvaged, the misspelling of “monastry” might be corrected.

Here is an article about the mural, with photos of the removal, in The Journal. You can see how much of the mural had remained intact.

Angela Bourke’s article in The Dublin Review describes the valley — Gleann na nGealt/Glannagalt — in County Kerry where Sweeney took refuge with other madmen.

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About Richard Marsh

Bardic storyteller and author
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