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Artist Name(s) Fergal McCarthy
Artwork title Liffeytown

‘Liffeytown’ was a public artwork devised for the river Liffey in Dublin as part of the city’s Fringe Festival in September 2010. The installation comprised 11 red and green Perspex and steel ‘Monopoly houses and hotels’ (each measuring 2m x 2m x 2.5m) which were anchored in place, and were illuminated at night via timed internal LED lighting systems. Images of the installation were circulated widely at the time, via national and international press, as visual testaments of Ireland’s property bust and unfolding economic collapse.

Those Monopoly houses and hotels were at once satirical and consoling: an arch statement on the city’s recent history and the nation’s ingrained, ruinous obsession with property, they reduced the complexity of the market to something as beautifully simple and cyclical as the level of the tide. It may fall as well as rise. This may have seemed like an obvious point, but it was more eloquently made than any economist or commentator and certainly more playful. It supplied the visuals for what was on our minds and the tips of our tongues. Understandably, images of the installation accompanied news articles on Ireland’s economic woes everywhere from The Irish Times to The New York Times, The Guardian to La Stampa, an immediate symbol of the bust, the sudden, inevitable arrest of our prosperity. Do Not Pass Go.”

At the same time as it marked the end of development folly, it recalled a game from childhood and the pleasures of toy boats in a pond. At night, when the fibreglass constructions glowed like red and green lanterns, you might have thought it a vigil, but that glow seemed more reassuring. Another ghost estate, maybe, but clear evidence of the capability of art to create, rebuild and reconnect.”


'Liffeytown' was listed as a cultural highlight of 2010 by Peter Crawley in The Irish Times. Gemma Tipton wrote about Liffeytown in an Irish Times article about Ireland’s best public art projects in 2013. Multiple international media outlets ran articles and photographs of the project including The Observer, The Guardian, The NewYork Times, The Wall Street Journal, Der Spiegel, Reuters, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Qatar Times and Le Monde. Images of the installation were shown on BBC’s Newsnight and RTE’s Primetime programmes. 'Liffeytown' was featured on RTE News. The artist was interviewed on multiple radio programmes and the installation was written about in many blogs and websites including Art Daily and The Bomb.

Richard Conway ‘Liffeytown’, Archiseek, September 2, 2010

Gemma Tipton ‘Life on the water’, Irish Times, August 23, 2012

Peter Crawley ‘How Róise Goan grew the Fringe’, Irish Times, September 4, 2013


Video Documentation 

‘Liffeytown’ (Night footage):

‘Liffeytown Test 1’:




Fergal McCarthy (b. 1973, Limerick) is a visual artist who studied at University of Limerick (1990-93) and currently lives in Dublin. Originally a painter, he later extended his practice to encompass lens-based media, site-specific installation and performance.

For details on solo exhibitions and public installations see the artist’s website:

Commissioner Name Roise Goan - Artistic Director of Dublin Fringe Festival
Commissioning process Open Submission. 50% funded by Dublin Fringe Festival, 50% funded by the artist using personal funds.
Project commission dates September 10, 2010 - September 25, 2010
Artform Visual Arts
Budget Range 10000 - 30000 euro
Project commission start date 10/09/2010
Project commission end date 25/09/2010
Location The river Liffey, west of The Ha’penny Bridge.
County Dublin
Town Dublin
Content contributor(s) Web Editor and the artist
Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Roise Goan (Artistic Director of Dublin Fringe Festival)

Ger & Andrew Clancy (Fabricators)

Jimmy Murray (Anchoring of structures)

Green Earth Light (Lighting Consultants)