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Fiona Whyte, committee member of the Miltown Malbay, Community Enhancement Group with Mural Artist Neil O Dwyer, working on a mural at Canada Cross, celebrating a local song entitled Three Brave Blacksmiths. Photograph by John Kelly

Mural magic and a burst of colour lifts Miltown spirits

MILTOWN Malbay has had a colourful make-over and is looking ahead to a bright future, after an enhancement project which has given a facelift to 30 local properties.
Community interests, businesses, homeowners and school students have been working together for a several months on the initiative, which includes the painting of a number of murals on landmark buildings.
Last November, Miltown Malbay Community Enhancement secured €40,000 to paint buildings and shop fronts, under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, and the funding has led to an estimated investment of up to €90,000 locally.
“Like a lot of rural towns, Miltown has been on its knees,” said committee member Seán Malone.
“We set up a group five years ago that has since turned into the Enhancement Committee. We’re working on several projects including walking trails and thanks to some perseverance, we managed to secure the €40,000.
“That was to paint 30 buildings and we then decided to do the murals.”
Expertise on colour choices was provided through the Dulux Colour Hero Scheme.
“We didn’t completely stick to their suggestions,” said Fiona Whyte, another committee member.
“We asked the property owners for free rein in terms of colours and we’ve chosen a really nice range of pinks and purples and a real burst of brightness around the town.
“As we were planning the painting, we started looking at prominent buildings where murals might work and we got in touch with Neil O’Dwyer in Tipperary to paint those.”
To-date, four sites have been chosen for the murals and their themes reflect the vibrant history and traditions of Miltown.
“In the town centre, we have the Three Brave Blacksmiths and that story really resonates with people,” said Fiona.
“It’s located across from Maguire’s forge, which is still there today.
“On the Ennistymon Road, we have a great mural featuring two great local men who were renowned for their music and for passing on the tradition to the younger generations – Michael Mahony and Peter Haugh.”
Getting as many people as possible involved was another major aim of the project and on the Flag Road, students from St Joseph’s Secondary School have been making their mark.
“We felt it was really important, from an inclusion point of view, to get the students involved,” said Lorna Cahill, a committee member and mother of a first year pupil.
“We contacted Paul Reidy, the principal, who was very supportive. The students have been painting for ten to 14 days and the theme they picked is ‘All Roads Lead Home’, representing everything they feel is important in their lives.”
Lorna paid tribute to local businesses and school staff for making the experience so memorable for the students.
“A different business has sponsored lunch for the students each day,” she noted.
“That’s been hugely appreciated. Lourda Talty, the art teacher, has been working with students, even though she’s on her summer holidays and she’s giving her own time.”
James O’Brien, secretary of the committee and leader for the painting project said the scheme has generated huge positivity.
“This has given a great lift to people’s spirits in Miltown, especially after lockdown,” he said.
“We started the surveying back in November and were held up a bit by Covid, but May was a great time to start the painting. Out of a total of 30 buildings, we have just two left to go and this is something that has really brought the community together and given the town a new lease of life.”
A fourth mural is also planned, for a site on the Ennis Road, but the theme is still under wraps.
“We’re probably going to start on this in the first week in July,” said Fiona.
“We won’t reveal the theme just yet, and we’ve opened it up on social media where people have been giving their ideas. It’s going to be very special and will be a fantastic welcome into the town.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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