Ciaran Walsh,, Sean Lynch, Public Art Project, Listowel Writers Week


Ciarán Walsh joins Sean Lynch, the internationally renowned Irish artist, in a public art project in Listowel.


The Maid of Erin

A public art project by Sean Lynch
Listowel, County Kerry
1st June –  27th August 2011

In summer 2011, the Maid of Erin premises will re-open in Listowel, Co Kerry, to function as an exhibition and study centre of the plasterwork of Pat McAuliffe.  Directed by artist Sean Lynch, the centre will consist of a collection of archival material, a reading area, a revolving photographic display and an audio-visual presentation that all explore McAuliffe’s legacy in North Kerry and West Limerick. During the project, local painter and signwriter Freddy Chute will restore and repaint the building’s façade which features one of McAuliffe’s most famous artworks, The Maid of Erin.

Pat McAuliffe lived and worked in Listowel from 1846 to 1921. In a career as a builder he applied exterior plaster, or stucco, upon shopfronts and townhouse facades in the region. From the 1870s onwards he began to develop an ambitious and often exuberant style, using a broad range of elements culled from the vocabulary of classical architecture and ornament while exploring an eclectic mix of art nouveau, Celtic and Byzantine influences.  Over 35 buildings can be attributed to him. Local writer Bryan MacMahon, in typically poetic fashion, described McAuliffe:
In retrospect I see him quite clearly, great and black-bearded, his dark eyes alive under a cream-coloured straw hat.  He came of an old-established family in the town. As a young man, Pat McAuliffe had in him a restless, imaginative streak that left him dissatisfied with the chores of plastering in an average Irish country town.  After a span of run-of-the-mill work, he began, without any formal training in art, to experiment in casting in concrete in his little yard.  These experiments gave him a new sense of power.  Subsequently, when engaged to plaster the front of a house, he demanded a free hand with the design or else refused to execute the work.

All exhibited material at The Maid of Erin will be freely reproduced and disseminated to the public. Detailed information on buildings where McAuliffe’s artworks are located will be available. The centre will also continue to pro-actively gather further information and material related to the town’s architecture and plasterwork traditions. It will open to the public Wednesday, 12-6pm, Thursday to Saturday 2-6pm, and by prior appointment.

All enquiries about The Maid of Erin project should be directed to Sean Lynch, at 0874138791, or

Artists Biography

Sean Lynch (b. 1978, Kerry) was educated in fine art at the Stadelschule, Frankfurt, and Limerick School of Art and Design. He is represented by the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery in Dublin, and divides his time between Berlin and Limerick. Recently he has exhibited at neugerriemschneider, Berlin, Camden Arts Centre, London, St Paul Street Gallery, Auckland and the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin. Concurrent to this project, his work will be presented at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin and the Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh. He is also author, editor and publisher of several books and pamphlets that focus on Irish art and architecture. Another public artwork, entitled Me Jewel & Darlin,’ was commissioned in 2011 by Dublin City Council and is currently on show on O’Connell Street, Dublin.

The project is funded by the Percent for Art Scheme, Department of Environment,
Heritage and Local Government and Kerry County Council