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The local cycling club in Clonegal approached the school early in 2011 and offered to raise funds for any project we would like to undertake. Obviously we were delighted to get such a generous offer and immediately started thinking of all the projects we would like to get involved with. The teachers really wanted something that would:
• involve every child in the school
• be part of our school curriculum
• be in the school into the future
• be enjoyable

Eventually, the decision was made and it was decided to design and paint a mural within the school grounds. After much discussion in every classroom about what would go into the mural it was agreed that it would be based on:
• the story of St. Brigid – because we are St. Brigid’s NS
• local history
• local scenery
• school events
• the local cycling club

The next step for the teachers was to employ an artist to co-ordinate and facilitate the work. The decision was made and a local artist, Maria Levinge, was commissioned to work with all the pupils of the school to complete the mural. She visited the school and became familiar with the area to be painted.

Her first task was to “brainstorm” with every group and come up with brilliant ideas. Everyone was delighted with the suggestions we made. We quickly set about designing templates of animals, birds, bridges, hills, people, fields, machinery, bicycles and almost anything else you could think about.When this task was complete, Maria talked to us about painting St. Brigid on one of the pillars as the centre piece of the mural, with her cloak flowing from it. Of course the River Derry would also have to go in there. Fionn McCumhaill would be painted on another pillar with his two hounds – Bran and Sceolán nearby. The stranger, from whom Clonegal got its Irish name – Cluain na nGall – the Meadow of the stranger was painted on the inside of a pillar and a pikeman from 1798 would also be included.

We made a lovely template of a cyclist – to represent the cycling club- and decided there would be a few cyclists cycling over the bridge. The past was represented by the old style penny farthing bike.

We used the templates to paint birds, animals, flowers, butterflies and all kinds of insects. Each class worked on different aspects of the mural. As we live in a rural area we had lots of fields to paint with colourful hedgerows. The boys were very enthusiastic about the tractor, the bales, and the farmland!

We painted in our school, the churches in the village and the Castle. The children playing gaelic games are wearing the county colours of Carlow, Wexford and Wicklow because children from each county attend our school.

Every pupil in the school put a handprint on a pillar and our names are also included, so when we come back in the future we can recognise our own handprint. We also drew in windmills to remind us of our responsibility to take care of the environment.

Mrs Levinge taught us a lot about mixing paints to get the exact shade we needed and used syringes to measure the correct amount of colours to mix. We really enjoyed working with her.

The official unveiling was performed by another local artist, Mark O’ Neill. We were very honoured that he gave his time to unveil our work and he also talked to us about his art.

We really enjoyed this project and we are very happy with our mural. It is very colourful and we can learn a lot of local history by talking about the images in the mural.

Have a look at more detailed pictures of our mural.