05 Oct 2022

Mount Carmel mural is helping to reconnect with the Callan community

A splash of pop-art colour looks out from a wall at the Mount Carmel Care Home in Callan, and onlookers can’t help but be cheered by the vibrant portraits of residents and staff.
The five-panel mural was unveiled just in time for the home’s summer open day, recently, and the collage of familiar faces was a real hit with family and friends.

Scroll down to read about this amazing project and click 'NEXT' to see more photographs of the artists!

ABOVE: “That’s PJ Fitzpatrick up there,” says Joan Camp. “No,” says PJ, “that’s me down there!”

The mural is part of a project to reconnect the residents of Mount Carmel with the wider community, after two years of Covid restrictions.
Now, not only has it done just that, but some of the men and women involved have discovered a love and talent for art they never knew they had!

Lockdown meant big changes for the Mount Carmel community, which is very much focused on involvement with the local community.
The home provides supported living for low dependency residents over 65 years, long-term and respite care for residents who are mainly capable of living independently and who require minimal assistance in a home-from-home environment. There are 20 single bedrooms in the main building as well as independent living bungalows on the grounds of Mount Carmel and the occupants can avail of meals in the centre.
Pre-Covid the centre also had day services for non-residents.

As restrictions eased, manager of the home, Fergus Keane, wanted to reconnect the residents with the community, and the local community with Mount Carmel. He came up with the idea of the art project.
Rachel Burke, an artist facilitator in community education with the ETB, worked with the residents and the day attendees at the centre, on the project.
The ETB funded a year-long project, starting last summer. A lot of foundation work was done before the mural was completed - the budding artists did drawings on paper and canvas, and the mural is ‘just a slice’ of the work they have been doing.

When it came to mural it started with photographs of each other, other residents and the staff. Rachel outlined the drawings and the artists got to work with bright paints. The combined effect of the portraits together is a stunning and vibrant display.
An important part of the mural is the portraits of people who have moved on, to other residences or who have passed away. Rachel said that it is important for the families of those people to see the impact they made in the Mount Carmel community.

While the portraits do look very like the subjects, Rachel said they could also be ‘anybody’ and even if people don’t appear on the wall it represents them.
She paid tribute to Fergus for being ‘amazing’ and always putting the residents first.

Men and women who participated in the project cherish the friendships and fun that comes with the art classes.
Joan Camp said she would be lost without the painting classes and the craic with everyone else. Bridget Carroll agreed. She said she lives alone and the group is ‘a break from the house.’
“I’m not good at it, but I really enjoy it,” Nancy Power said. Ethel Norman said: “It was lovely to have someplace to go and we all have a laugh, which is what we need.”

Although he never thought his painting would be on a wall, Pierce Barry said he is very pleased with the mural.
Tom Hickey and Seán Kennedy now plan to continue painting and attend classes at KCAT in Callan. Tom said he “never had a brush in my hand before Rachel came here” but he has found a new hobby he loves and plans to continue painting.

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