Limerick City mural considered act of ‘cultural vandalism’

The mural on the Toll Cottages at Thomond Bridge.

FORMER Labour councillor Tom Shortt has deemed the mural at Verdant Place in Limerick City as “an act of cultural vandalism.”

“There is an isle”, the widely recognised anthem of Shannon Rugby Club, can be seen in giant letters as visitors enter Limerick City along Thomond Bridge. The colourful mural was painted onto the Toll Cottages façade in May as a joint project between Limerick City and County Council and TUS Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD).

Mr Shortt hit out that this public artwork is located at the most sensitive architectural heritage site associated with an appreciation of the history and character of Limerick City.

“It needs to be said, and National Heritage Week is the right time to say it, that the public artwork painted recently at Verdant Place is in reality an act of cultural vandalism,” he told the Limerick Post.

The Thomondgate art teacher considers the mural “an oppressive presence” in the daily lives of people who, “despite claims to the contrary”, were not consulted about its addition to their environment.

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“The artwork is visually intrusive in terms of its scale, its use of enormous attention-seeking lettering — stating the blindingly obvious – and its use of garish colours that are unsympathetic to the natural stone of King John’s Castle and the celebrated architecture of the Pain brothers dating from the 1820s and 30s, seen in the Villiers Alms Houses, St Munchin’s Church of Ireland, Thomond Bridge, and the Toll House.”

Rather than enhancing the location, Mr Shortt feels the mural has an entirely negative impact on this historic environment, destroying a classic riverside vista and view of the medieval city.

“Limerick School of Art and Limerick City and County Council got it wrong, and should undo the damage done,” Mr Shortt hit out.

“They should abandon the move towards seeing the terrace of houses as a ‘development site’ and should remove the giant advertising hoarding they installed. Then they might restore and perhaps reimagine the hugely successful artwork that was there for thirty years and held in great affection, because it acknowledged the four houses that exist there and celebrated lives lived in those houses in a low-key whimsical manner.

“This more sensitive approach might tide us over at this riverside location until the houses are restored or rebuilt,” he concluded.

There was no response from Limerick City and County Council or LSAD at the time of going to print.