‘Do You Know the Five Lamps?’ mural was a project initiated by Eoghan Cleary and the young people of Swan Youth Services in the North East Inner City. Driven by their interest in cycling and graffiti murals, the group cycled around the city each week looking at different images they could draw upon for inspiration. They also organised a trip to Belfast to tour the iconic murals there on both sides of the conflict. When Roisin Lonergan came to them with a space beside Marino College they leapt at the opportunity to create a piece of mural art in such a prominent and central location within their local community.
The young group collaborated for over 6 months with local artist Fionnuala Halpin to develop a piece that would incorporate all the aspects of the North Strand area and communities, spanning across all of the seminal moments in history through the centuries from the arrival of the Vikings to the modern issues faced by the community today.
In late June 2015 with the support of the Croke Park Community Fund, and Marino College of FE and The Five Lamps Arts Festival the plan was put into action. With an extended group of youth people from Swan Youth Service along with a host of local artist volunteers, the group spent an entire week for often 12 hours a day, transferring the ideas developed from their workings on paper to the paint on the wall that you see today. The result of their successful collaboration spans the wall of the Memorial Garden beside Marino College on the North Strand Road.
The first swan flies out of the flames with the title of the proclamation of Independence written on it symbolising the new republic emerging from the flames. The swans represent the Children of Lir, the young people of SWAN Youth Service, and the socialist republican ideals born from the flames of the GPO as they carry the proclamation forward through time across the Dublin night sky as the historical development of the community continues below. The bomb that was dropped in this very location n WWII killing 28 people; the flooding of 1950; the tram that would have run along the North Strand Road to Howth; the Monto and the lion that was shot outside the North Strand cinema in 1953. The Five Lamps represent the point at which the mural moves from the events of the past to the issues of the future; the right to water; helping the homeless and the right to a home as well as the marriage equality rainbow over the canal.
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From left to right the waves of foreign lands carries the arrival of the Vikings from Asgard representing the fact that we are all original immigrants to this country as well as representing the more obvious diversity that exists in the community today particularly in respect to the generations of new Irish young people. It quickly changes to the 20th century with the IRB bringing guns (carried by the Asgard) to the city in 1916 as they would have walked along the North Strand Road. These gun runners lead us to the central image of the image of the GPO in flames that drives the main idea of the mural that the ideals put forth in the proclamation of independence in 1916 are still being realised and fought for 100 year later in our communities today.
The musicians symbolise the rich cultural history of the area echoed in the signpost for the Five Lamps Arts Festival. The starry plough, a salute to Sean O’ Casey. The cyclists old and new show how the function of the road has been the same steadfast pathway for travellers over the ages. Finally James Joyce, who wrote about travelling along the North Strand Road in Ulysses, sits on the landmark bridge over the canal as he did in Dubliners, as the last swan flies overhead having transformed into an airplane. In it, the words of the proclamation that address our exiled children abroad represents the diaspora of millions that have left our shores when it was impossible to stay, again echoing the transient nature of what it is to be Irish.
We decided to title it ‘Do You Know the Five Lamps?’ after the famous local Dublin saying. As well as the local familiarity and ownership of the phrase it also asks people who may not be as familiar with their own community to ask themselves if they really know about all the events that has come to pass in the area known as the five lamps.