Unveiling of Tree of Embracement St Joseph’s NS Ballinrobe

Posted in Connect on June 27, 2019.


A beautiful and unique piece of art created by the pupils of St Joseph’s National School, Ballinrobe was unveiled at a ceremony in the school this week. Entitled “Tree of Embracement”, the piece was created by the schoolchildren working with artist blacksmith and coppersmith Mark Wilson.

Mark, who is on the Heritage Council’s ‘Heritage in Schools’ expert panel, worked with 5th and 6th classes to develop ideas and designs for the project, and create the large wall-mounted art work.

Using recycled copper and salvaged steel sourced locally, each child made a small piece inspired by the rich history, heritage and biodiversity of Ballinrobe. These pieces were then mounted on a metal frame, which was made by Transition Year students from Ballinrobe Community School.

The project was undertaken as part of the Ballinrobe Heritage Iron and Craft Festival held in the town in October 2018. The Festival, an initiative of Mayo County Council’s Heritage Office, was organised in association with the Irish Artist Blacksmiths Association (IABA) and the Ballinrobe community.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony Deirdre Cunningham, Mayo Heritage Officer congratulated the children on creating a wonderful bespoke piece of art, of which all involved should be extremely proud. She also thanked the teachers and principal, Dympna Culhane, for their enthusiasm and involvement in the project.

Also speaking at the ceremony Ms Culhane added “the school had for some time been hoping to develop the main entrance to the school, to create a welcoming and embracing feel on arrival. When we were approached by Deirdre and Mark, we were excited to take part and get involved in the project. We then entered the Creative Ireland – Heritage in Schools competition, which provided an opportunity to creatively explore your local heritage during a series of five free visits a Heritage in Schools Expert, and we were delighted to be one of only 10 schools chosen nationally. This enabled the children to work with Mark to create their pieces in the weeks leading up to the Festival”. The finishing touches and frame for the overall artwork were then completed during the Historic Iron Festival weekend. The Tree of Embracement was unveiled by the pupils at a ceremony attended by pupils, teachers, parents, Fr. Michael Gormally PP, local elected and community representatives, Mayo County Council staff and blacksmiths from the IABA.

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