The Marram Meitheal, 2017
Commissioned by the Mayo Arts Office and the Tir Saile Public Art Residency 2017
In 1991, Claggan Island, Belmullet, Co Mayo, was awarded Island status. Marram grass –also known as Bent grass - was planted along the Claggan coast to help slow dune erosion and re-enforce the islands access route. Using the Marram Grass planting that resulted as a direct consequence of this as a starting point, the Marram grass was utilised as a focus for discussion, interaction and exploration with the local people of Claggan.
A handmade paper was created using the local Marram Grass, made with local people. Public Marram grass planting events were organized, to help replenish the Marram grass cut for the paper making, and to re enforce sand dunes. The handmade paper was incorporated into a sculptural sand fence installation on the dunes leading to Claggan. This disappearing Sculpture acts as a small scale demonstration of slowing dune erosion on the Islands main access route onto the island. Each posts represents an inhabitant of the island today, and uses the paper they created. As sand builds up over the next 25 years, the posts will slowly disappear as they re enforce the island road. This sculpture aims to highlight how limited access is an ongoing problem for each of the ten people currently living on the island. This video documents the process of this project, with narration by the local people discussing daily life and their restricted access into and out of the Island.
With sincere thanks to the inhabitants of Claggan Island for their kindness, assistance and generosity throughout this residency: Sarah Ginley, Laurence Howard Snr, Patricia Ginley, Laurence Howard Jnr, Maura Howard, Cian, Oran and Dara Howard, John Ginley, Mary Lavelle and Dom Dalton. With special thanks to John, Eva and Kevin from Belmullet Tidy Towns, and Olivia Jones from Clean Coasts Ireland with their assistance in the Marram grass planting, and local carpenter Brendan Henry for his generous assistance.
Note: The area leading into Claggan Island and Shrah Beach is an SAC, a Special Area of Conservation, and comes under the protection of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Special consent was sought and granted by the Park Ranger for Belmullet, Irene O’Brien, for each aspect of this project. This project was created as part of the Tir Saile Residency 2017, and was funded by Mayo County Council Public Art Office, in association with Aras Inis Gluaire Belmullet.