West Clare Youthreach · Age Group · Clare
We are learners in West Clare Youthreach, Kilrush, Co Clare. Inspired by the theme ‘This is Extraordinary’ we went looking for someone in the community who we felt was extraordinary. Very quickly we found our person. Fionnuala Walsh, a native of Cappa, who is the first Irish female to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming by successfully completing the English Channel 2012, Catalina Channel 2013 and Manhattan Island Swim 2014. In particular her crossing of the English Channel was very challenging, with her first attempt aborted due to fog when she was metres away from the finishing line. But with an amazing show of determination she went back two months later and successfully completed the swim.
We found Fionnuala’s achievements inspiring and her ability to overcome huge setbacks and go onto succeed is a lesson to us all. We wanted to honour her with a mural and what better place to do this than down at Cappa pier, the place she had grown up in and developed her love of swimming and the sea.
The council gave us permission to paint the mural on the side of a toilet block at the pier and over the last week in April, 2022, with the sun shining, we carried out the painting. We brainstormed and worked on ideas for the mural in art class, doing various sketches until we reached our final design. We wanted an image that would brighten up the wall which was in shadow and not very nice to look at. With a new public seating area nearby we wanted to create a piece of art that could be enjoyed by all the local community.
Our design depicted the view across the mouth of the Shannon with Scattery Island and the hills of Kerry in the background. Abstract shapes and colours show a swimmer and the movement of water. A scroll at the side of the scene lists Fionnuala’s achievements.
We have worked with the local tidy town’s group in the past creating other murals around Kilrush. The satisfaction in taking a wall in the community and turning it into something bright and colourful is very rewarding. We really enjoyed the process of doing this mural in particular because we got to meet Fionnuala and talk to her about her experiences. We also had the opportunity to swim with her on May 3rd at Cappa as part of the ‘Make a Splash a Day in May’ fundraising challenge for the Irish Cancer Society.
We are very excited to enter our mural into the competition. We really enjoyed the process of creating the mural and we are delighted that due to the theme we have become familiar with Fionnuala’s extraordinary swimming journey. All through history, art has been used to commemorate great events and people and here at Cappa pier we have been able to continue this tradition by paying tribute to the Open Water Swimming legend, Fionnuala Walsh.