A public sculpture entitled ‘Paper Boats’ by artist Amanda Ralph has been on quite an expedition. They began life as a fleet of seven boats that call upon the wistful desire for adventure you sometimes get when watching a boat going out to sea, and were commissioned by Offaly County Council in 2000 for the River Brosna in Clara. Two winters later, the river rose considerably after a storm and debris swirled around the chained anchors, dragging some of them under. The OPW were called to dredge the river, and Offaly County Council employee Dominic Fleming spotted the machine hauling the boats onto the riverbank. Rescuing five of the seven, he placed them in storage in Clara, waiting for someone to claim them. Around this time, the Arts Office in Offaly County Council was undergoing a change of personnel and somehow the fate of the rescued boats was overlooked.
Arts Officer, Sinéad O’Reilly says, “When I took up the post in 2005, I found a record of them having being commissioned, but nothing of what had happened to them subsequently. I had heard in conversation that the OPW removed them, but nothing further. In 2014, Amanda contacted us to ask if we knew anything about what had happed to the sculptures. We started to ask questions locally and amazingly we found them, stored in a loft in a depot in Clara. We are very grateful to Dominic Fleming for rescuing the sculptures when he did. He even managed to avoid them being turned into planters over the years! Two of them are still missing, possibly buried into the river bank from when the river was dredged.”
Amanda assessed their condition and brought them to Arklow Marine Services where they had been originally engineered, 14 years earlier. “I was worried that there would be nobody who would remember making them and we’d have difficulty in getting them restored, but Billy Tyrrell, a fifth generation boat builder, recollected them immediately. Arklow Marine are one of the leading boat builders in Ireland, so I imagine a project like this sticks in their minds”.
While being restored, a new home was found for the remaining boats at Lough Boora Discovery Park in the context of its existing Sculpture Park. The boats were placed in Lough an Dochas at the Visitor Centre just before Christmas. Sinéad says, “We are delighted with the new location and wish to thank Bord na Mona and Kilcormac Development Association for providing a ‘safe harbour’ for them. They are the first sculptures visitors encounter at the park from the centre, and their original meaning of a wistful desire for adventure and discovery retains its value here too
Paper Boats will be re-launched at the Visitor Centre at Lough Boora Discovery Park on Friday January 16th at 3.30pm by writer and documentary maker Manchán Magan, and all are welcome.
The Lough Boora Discovery Park website has been announced as a Finalist in the Best Practice category for this year’s Web Awards, which take place at Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin on Wednesday 22 October 2014.
The new Lough Boora Discovery Park website was launched in early August 2014 as part of a Bord na Móna initiative to increase awareness of the park as a free amenity in the heart of Ireland that offers something for everyone.
The website highlights the activities that are available for all ages and abilities, with information about the park’s nature and biodiversity, history and the story of Bord na Móna. The new website testing.loughboora.com encourages users to visit Lough Boora Discovery Park, discover and explore all this amenity has to offer.
The 2014 Web Awards take place at Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin on Wednesday 22 October 2014.
For more information, visit testing.loughboora.com and connect with us on Twitter @loughboorapark, Facebook and YouTube.
As part of the Offaly Walking Festival 2014, a dusk to dark walk will take place at Lough Boora Discovery Park on Friday 10 October 2014 from 6.30pm.
Walkers are invited to join us for an amazing nature experience full of sights and sounds as night falls. Bring a torch and your walking shoes and meet at the new Visitor Centre car park to explore the soft bog land underfoot during this hour long moderate walk.
For further information, download the Offaly Walking Festival 2014 [PDF] contact the Kilcormac Development Association on 057 9135445 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walking at Lough Boora Discovery Park
Lough Boora Discovery Park offers trails ranging from a short stroll to longer treks to take you through our diverse amenities. All routes start and end at the new Visitor Centre, with a level walking landscape that can be enjoyed by all age groups.
The park’s walks are rated as easy, so mildly challenged walkers can estimate distances using the scales listed. This is advisable so as to ensure walkers can pace themselves comfortably.
The park is in a continuous state of flux depending on the season. Birds depart or arrive, breed and rear their young. Plants flower and fungi appear and disappear, while the resident animals go about their lives. The varying sights, sounds and smells ensure a walk through Lough Boora always has something new, exciting and interesting to offer.
Discover Lough Boora’s walking trails in your own time, year round.
A Sculpture Park tribute for artist Jean Conroy was held by the Art Hedge School at Lough Boora Discovery Park on Sunday 28 September 2014.
The event was organised by Sinead O’Reilly, Arts Officer with Offaly County Council and was hosted by fellow Sculptor, Tom Mescall, who worked with Jean over the years prior to her passing.
Approximately 30 adults and children joined in crafted temporary art pieces made from the natural materials found around The Boora Pyramid sculpture. This was the fourth year the Art Hedge School gathered at Lough Boora.
Additional photos from the tribute can be found on the Lough Boora Discovery Park Facebook Page.