Skip to main content
Aches Final Piece, Ardú Street Art Initiative, supported by Cork City Council Arts Office and Creative Ireland. Credit: Clare Keogh


Behind the street art projects bringing colour and imagination into our communities

6 min read

Behind the street art projects bringing colour and imagination into our communities

6 min read


Behind the street art projects bringing colour and imagination into our communities

Throughout 2020 a series of incredible street art projects, all supported by the Creative Ireland Programme, brought colour, joy and imagination to the street of towns and cities across Ireland from the busy centre of Cork city to the quiet and picturesque laneways of Roundstone in County Galway.

In dark times, street art was one of the only remaining accessible art mediums available as the public were able to enjoy these artworks outdoor and while safely socially distancing. As the year draws to a close, we take a look behind the scenes at these projects and speak to some of the artists who created magic on our streets. 

Ardú Street Art Initiative – Cork City 

Ardú (meaning the Irish for ‘Rise’) was launched in October 2020 as some of Ireland’s most-renowned street artists including Aches, Maser and Shane O’Driscoll created vibrant work at locations throughout Cork including Henry Street, Anglesea Street and Harley Street. Deirdre Breen was one of the artists involved in the project and her stunning Placemaking Mural on Wandesford Quay was one of the standout pieces. Here she documents her personal connection to the work and how delighted she’s been with the incredibly positive public response. 

Deirdre Breen: I’ve previously had a project space at Backwater and am a member of Cork Printmakers, so I work regularly from the complex, so personally it has a lot of meaning for myself. It’s a really vibrant, supportive and important space in our city centre. 

It took about two weeks in total. First we have to prep and prime the walls. Once that was complete, the design was mapped onto the wall in metre squares. I used the X and Y axis of each individual square to plot line points from which I could connect the lines. That was the trickiest part, especially in areas where there are a lot of smaller shapes and angles. Once the design was mapped it was a case of painting the wall section by section, and making sure all the lines were nice and sharp. Luckily for the two weeks we had the weather on our side which made a big difference. The mural was finished just in time for Culture Night, so it was nice that people could come and sit on the wall across the way by the river and take it in.

The reaction has been amazing so far. I’ve had so much lovely feedback from any of the images and video footage online, and lots of people have sent me photographs of themselves or others engaging with the piece. With the current restrictions, museums, galleries and arts organisations have had to close their doors so many exhibitions and art production has been put on hold. The Ardú festival has been a welcome initiative that takes the experience of new artworks outdoors, to the streets. People have really enjoyed the festival trail, and it’s had a positive impact on our local communities bringing joy in what feels like a relentless tough period. 


Waterford Walls Project 

Waterford Walls International Street Art festival has been wowing audiences for years at various locations across the city, however in 2020 these murals took on special significance. Vanessa Power’s typographic mural was one of the show-stopping pieces unveiled this year, and she shares her stories of creating this piece. 

Vanessa Power: My piece in this year’s Waterford Walls was sponsored by Ardkeen fresh food store, I wanted to paint something in response to this. SO FRESH is a play on the store’s offerings and also on the 80s slang term for something being new or nice. The lettering style is slab serif with the SO in a script style, and keeping with traditional sign writing shading techniques for the FRESH. I wanted the lettering to make a great impact and expand the borders of the space. They were the biggest letters I’ve painted to date so it was a great challenge for me creatively. I was on a cherry picker for the five days working on it, I drew it all out with chalk first with a spirit level. 

The sketch up stage of any mural is always the most time consuming and requires the most concentration to ensure the lettering is as perfect as I can get it. The painting is always the fun part of any mural work where I can just enjoy the process. I love painting murals and I hope to get the opportunity to paint some more large scale letters in 2021. I’m looking forward to painting again at next year’s Waterford Walls. 

Above: Vanessa Power

Maser Mural at Ballina Fringe Festival – Ballina, Co.Mayo 

Inspired by the floral countryside of the surrounding Mayo landscape, Maser’s gorgeous mural transformed the facade of this building on Hill Street, Ballina in October during Ballina Fringe Festival. This stunning juxtaposition of urban surroundings mixed with natural inspiration of flora and fauna has uplifted the entire townscape.  

Above: Maser

Maser at Ballina Fringe Festival

Open Video

The Sacred Heart of a Nurse by Siobhan Harton – Roundstone, Co.Galway 

The Sacred Heart of a Nurse by Siobhan Harton Studio was unveiled in November 2020 as part of Samhlu, Creative Ireland’s 90-minute TV special with TG4. It paid tribute to the frontline workers who have protected us all year and elevated the rugged and poetic Roundstone streets with its beautiful colours.

Above: Siobhan Harton

Find out more about Irish street art: Aches and the creative explosion of Irish graffiti art

Stay up to date