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Bringing the Outside In

by Vicky McGauley

It had long been agreed that a room used for end-of-life care at St Joseph’s Nursing Home in Ardee, Co Louth, needed a focal point / conversation piece that would give comfort during difficult times.   

With her Seeds Grant, Vicky McGauley engaged with the residents, visitors, and staff in the creation of a mural to enhance this room. There were many discussions as to what this mural might contain and everyone had their own ideas. However, it was a photograph of the 10,000 year-old nearby Ardee Bog hanging in a corridor at St Joseph’s that sparked enthusiastic consensus.   

Aside from its undeniable beauty, the Ardee Bog has been hugely influential in the lives of residents and staff as a natural safe sanctuary for wildlife, along with being a living soothing carpet of psychedelic green, red, yellow, white, and pink heathers. Moreover, St Joseph’s Nursing Home is itself set among agricultural landscape, with views over open countryside. Hence, it was decided to use ‘Bringing the Outside In’ as the mural’s theme.  

To hone their idea further, residents and staff then engaged in creative activities, such as painting their own visions of what else the mural might contain. These activities also sparked lively discussions and reminiscences about the role the Ardee Bog has played throughout their lives, and in particular an old song called “The Turfman from Ardee”, which mentions the Bog Road. Moreover, as Vicky told us: 

“We also discussed how hard it is on families who are left behind and how very important what their last memories are of a relative. Having a space that is dedicated to this, that includes local culture, will create a homely atmosphere and provide opportunities to reminisce.” 

Artist Rozzi Kennedy has since been commissioned to undertake painting the mural in oils, which uses the Bog Road as its central focus. Although it isn’t fully completed yet, Vicky reports residents, relatives, and staff are all delighted with it. 

“The picture is worth a thousand words. The colours are bright, brilliant, deep, earthy, harmonious, intense, rich, saturated, strong, vibrant, vivid and capture so much of the Ardee Bog. The green colour of grass, the leaves of trees, and rushes represent growth and healing and a place for peace and tranquility.” 

said Vicky.

We look forward to seeing and sharing the finished piece shortly.