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An Teanga Bheo

Artist Name(s) Róisín de Buitléar & Maree Hensey
Artwork title An Teanga Bheo
Context/Background An Teanga Bheo explores the concept of language in Pobal Scoil Coirce Dhuibhne and its wider school community. Communicating in more than one language enables the ability to transmit cultural knowledge that has no equivalent in the world-view and language of outsiders. The students of this school developed an understanding of their linguistic and cultural heritage, as well as developing a language unique to them and the time they live in. In this the first year of Pobal Scoil Coirce Dhuibhne the artists wanted to discover, record and celebrate what this means to the students and the school community as a whole and to use this information to develop a sculptural work for the school.


The work consists of large scale abstract sculpture which is mounted on both faces of the spine wall at the entrance to the school. The forms are drawn from investigation of the schools identity while working as artists-in-residence with the students and the wider school community. Investigations covered expression, sentiments and communication through the Irish language, incorporating sounds and rhythm of the language. Wide ranging discussions on cultural heritage were also facilitated.

The spine wall is a structure which forms a boundary for the school building; it protects and marks its outer limits. The sculpture weaves its way through and along this architectural feature. This work is a visual interpretation of how the Irish language is interwoven in the community and how it is influenced by what is happening inside the school building and outside in the locality. The continuous nature of the form illustrates how language is passed from one person to another. The rise and twists of each individual element can be seen to describe undulations and rhythm of speech.

On one extreme of the wall, a delicate curled form seems to unfold and to be barely attached to the wall, these delicate forms remind us of the tenuous position a minority language can have in society. The colour was inspired by a student field trip to the Conor Pass which focused on collecting information directly from the landscape.The soft contours of this sculpture announce its presence at the entrance to the building. The sculpture appears to transcend the wall and emerge on the opposite face in a rolling gentle movement. As the individual passes through the gate, the continuous form reveals itself in the side elevation of the wall and entices the viewer to continue his path to face the sculpture from the western side at the student entrance to the building.

Mediation photographic essay was produced on the project.
A TG4 radio interview
Press reviews
A blog spot was created:


Róisín de Buitléar is an internationally renowned glass artist. Born in Dublin, 1963. She has been working with glass as a primary material since 1984. Her cultural heritage inspires her work. Her blown and cast work is in private and public collections in Ireland and abroad, including the National Museum Collection at Collins Barracks and the Ulster Museum Belfast. Site specific installations using a wide variety of glassmaking methods can be seen in public buildings throughout Ireland, including W5 Science museum Belfast and the Blasket Island Centre in Kerry. As an educator she has given workshops in the USA, Japan, Britain, France, Canada, and Ireland and regularly lectures and writes on contemporary Irish glass. Her teaching at the National College of Art and Design Dublin spanned two decades. Next summer sees her returning to the USA to the prestigious Pilchuck Glass School as invited instructor of hot glass. She is chairperson of the Golden Fleece Art Awards advisory committee.

Maree Hensey is one of Ireland’s leading visual artists. Her work embraces drawing, sculpture and glass. She was born in Dublin in 1962 and after working as a midwife for many years decided to change direction. She studied at Galashiels College of Textiles, Scotland. After graduating in 1991 she  returned to Dublin in 1993 to work with John Rocha on a collection of drawings for printed textiles. Maree has successfully completed a number of public art commissions in the Per Cent for Art Scheme, the latest being an external sculpture for St. Patrick’s National School, Diswellstown Dublin. She has extensive community based experience and is has recently completed an artist’s residency in Carnew Day Care Centre, Co. Wicklow as part of the arts in health program.

She has been commissioned by the OPW to produce artwork for textiles and furniture for the Irish embassies in Belfast, Rome, Lisbon, Copenhagen and The Hague. By collaborating with cutting edge architectural practices Maree has been instrumental in evolving contemporary styles for a number of site specific projects. She is currently engaged in a community based participatory public art project Connect 87, through Kildare County Council and working towards an exhibition in the Courthouse Tinahely for 2010. She is a visiting lecturer at the National College of Art and Design Dublin at the faculty of Art and Design, Belfast.

Maree currently lives and works in Dublin and Carlow with her husband Mark Ryan and children Ella and Conor.

Commission Type Government Department
Commissioner Name Department of Education and Science
Commissioning process Open submission
Project commission dates February 1, 2008 - September 30, 2008
Artform Visual Arts
Art Practice Arts Participation
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Project commission start date 01/02/2008
Project commission end date 30/09/2008
Location Pobal Scoil Corca Duibhne
County Kerry
Town An Daingean
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Content contributor(s) Maree Hensey/ Róisín de Buitléar
Relationship to project Artists
Public engagement

Students and staff of the school, Board of Management, and the wider school community participated in the artist led workshops and field trips.

Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Engineer Brian Grogan Assc.