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Artists Martin Shannon and Jordana Giache with some of their work at the Ennis #Drain Art trail yesterday. Photograph by Eamon Ward

Drain art proves sewer-fire winner with people of Ennis

THE town of Ennis has been making waves with a new artistic initiative which has proven to be anything but a drain.
Reports of something fishy happening in the town began to emerge last week, with sightings of sea creatures on Ennis’s streets. While robots and dinosaurs were also spotted hanging around the drains of the county capital.
However there was nothing to fear from these colourful creatures which have been the result of a new ‘drainart’ project of public art instigated by Ennis Chamber.
The artwork has already proven to be a massive hit, with the hashtag Everybody Loves Ennis, trending as people from around the world shared photos across social media of the designs.
The images were shared on RTÉ’s social media, with Margaret O’Brien of Ennis Chamber telling us that according to the national broadcaster it was one of the most positive engagements they had across all their platforms that day.
The paintings were created by artists Martin Shannon and Giordana Giache. Martin, a native of Ennis, revealed to us that painting the artworks was quite literally a labour of love.
“We had planned to finish working on them in March, but because of the Covid restrictions we weren’t able to so we had to wait until we were able to and the weather was suitable.
“It turned out that on the day we did the painting, it was the 25th anniversary of the day me and Giordana first met in Brandon’s in Ennis. We were joking while we were painting that it was a weird way to spend our anniversary,” he laughed.
Martin and Giordana, from the Lumen Theatre Company, have worked with Ennis Chamber on other projects such as the annual Halloween festival.
He said they were delighted to come on board with this project and bring some colour to the streets of Ennis.
“The day we started the painting it was great fun, hardly anybody saw us. Suddenly, the paintings were everywhere the next day because people were on their way to work or school and they saw them and started sharing them on Twitter, Facebook and other social media.
“When we went out to do the rest of them some of my relations and friends in Ennis spotted me and asked did I know who was doing them. I said if you look out the window later on you’ll see. Then, when they looked they realised it was us!
“I think the reason it has been so successful is the fact that during the pandemic lots of people have been walking, and up until recently people have been locked into a 5km route. People are doing the same route day in day out.
“Then suddenly on that route you see some of these pictures and you find out there are six of them to see. These fun things that are very bright.
“I’ve been reluctant to point out where exactly they are to people because the joy of it is in discovering all six.
“I went around looking at them with my kids this week and we met lots of people on the streets walking around trying to find them. We’ve just been blown away by how much this has been embraced by the people of Ennis.”
The couple are based in Limerick, and according to Martin there are many in the Treaty City who have been inspired by what Ennis is doing.
“We’ve had a few people onto us asking us whether we could do something similar in Limerick because they have seen the way it has been shared widely.
“And a lot of people in Limerick have said that once the restrictions are over they will be travelling to Ennis because of the pedestrianisation. There is no pedestrianisation in Limerick and they see Ennis as a destination because of this. This art gives them something else to look at and enjoy when they get here.”
There are further plans for another four artworks to appear, with Martin urging, “watch the drains”.
Ms O’Brien told us that Ennis Chamber are “delighted” with the positive response the initiative has received, with hopes it will increase footfall, and spend, within the county capital.
“It has given Ennis Chamber great pleasure this week to see the joy the new #drainart murals are bringing to residents, particularly the children, of our beautiful town.
“The idea for the drain art was hatched at an Ennis Chamber Retail Committee meeting, when the wonderfully creative Tina Grogan of Bambino’s showed us some images from Japan and other far-flung places of art using manhole covers as a canvas.
“The idea really amused us. Further research revealed ta small town in the USA did a project where they painted manholes, but also storm drains. The seed was planted! “The next step was to raise funding and to find artists who could deliver our brief. I wish to acknowledge the generosity of Creative Ireland in granting us the funding for the project, with Ennis Chamber as promoter.”
Asked why the Chamber took on this project, she said, “The goodwill this project has generated around town and on social media is phenomenal.
“At the moment #EverybodyLovesEnnis is trending at No 5 in Ireland on Twitter and that’s thanks to six pieces of amusing Drain Art! Who would have thought it? With lots of media interest please expect plenty of positive coverage over the next few weeks,” she enthused.
“We are so delighted with the success of this project that today we commissioned four more, to bring the trail to a nice ‘roundy’ figure of 10.
“When you create something of interest for children in the town centre, you attract parents and grandparents too. This creates footfall and spend. And that’s why Ennis Chamber stepped forward to commission this project.”
She praised Tina for the inspiration, to Creative Ireland for funding and to the local businesses who are promoting it across their social media platforms.
“Also, I would like to pay tribute to our two wonderful artists Giordana Giache and Martin Shannon, who celebrate their 25th meeting anniversary this week.”

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