Saturday, July 23, 2016


Click on any image for a larger version

Dublin Canvas is an effort to brighten up the city, and its environs, by giving a new life to some of those old grey or green boxes you see sticking up out of the ground all over the place. Most of them turn out to be traffic light control boxes, and Raheny has one for every set of traffic lights in the village, of which there are many.

This is what you start with - a nondescript grey box on the inside of the pavement.

First you need an idea of what to decorate it with. In Raheny's case there is no shortage of heritage objects: the millennium clock, the old church and graveyard, the old parish pump, and so on.

Then you need an artist to do the job, and that's where local man Michael Gaffney steps up to the plate.

Then you need to get the whole plan agreed by the City Council who will then supply the materials for the job.

First on goes the base, and the thing is already looking the better for it. But you don't want to leave it too long like that as a possible source of temptation to the local creative youth.

So it's on with the first draft of the Millennium Clock.

Details of the clock are left aside for the moment while the background is filled in. This is the old church and graveyard which is to be seen behind the clock as you look down Station Road.

The site is said to have housed the old fort of Raheny and the location of a church there may go back to the 12th century or even way beyond. In any event it became the local Protestant church at the Reformation and remained in use until the "new" All Saints church was built by Lord Ardilaun in 1889. The graveyard is still full of lots of interesting people, some of whom once escaped into the outside world, but that's a story for another day.


In the interest of simplicity, Michael has left out a load of modern clutter such as the traffic lights themselves, lamp posts, railings, and so on.

The clock itself is the tricky bit and Michael has made up some stencils to ensure he gets the lines and dimensions right.

Pure freehand here would be in danger of producing a slightly wonky result and squares, polygons, circles and ovals can be unforgiving.

Having laid the foundations, Michael now sets about carefully filling in the clock in black and white and gold.

Et voila, the final result, a wonder to behold encapsulating a millennium, and possibly more, of "village" life.

And the time on the clock? Nearly ten past ten.

I asked Michael about that and he said as far as he could see that was the time which most frequently appeared in ads for clocks and watches.

I subsequently looked it up and he was right. The reasons given were that it looked like a smile and also allowed the manufacturer's name to be clearly seen.

Michael's name, however, is proudly displayed on the side of the box. And it will be the first of many. Next comes the parish pump and who knows what after that.

Well done Michael.

Incidentally you may have noticed a slight difference in the location of the first two photos above and you'd be right. The first is at the Catholic church and is as yet untouched while the second is in front of the Watermill pub. The reason is simple. I only noticed the box which ended up with the clock when it was already half done and no way was I going to ask Micheal to start over from scratch !

So that's the box outside the library.

Meanwhile inside the library, the Raheny Active Retirement Group have their art exhibition so I popped in for a look.

And what did I find. Michael's clock as a piece of exhibition art. Oil on canvas in a conventional setting. So whoever ends up with this picture will not only have two pieces of Raheny heritage depicted on their wall, they will have a replica of those two pieces as depicted on the traffic light box outside the library.

You can hear an interview with Michael by NearFM here.

And see his page on Dublin Canvas here.

No comments: