Ark of Tides

Artist Name(s) Marie Barrett
Artwork title Ark of Tides
Context/Background This project was commissioned utilising Per Cent for Art funds arising from the construction of is the Carndonagh Sewerage Scheme.

The Ark of Tides (2003) was a sculptural, photographic and socially engaged art commission which was temporarily located at Pollan Beach, Ballyliffin, Co. Donegal, Ireland.

The project was inspired by the life of Fr. John Colgan, O.F.M. (1592-1658) – a hagiographer whose family came from the Carndonagh area. Colgan’s work on the ecclesiastical history of Ireland is unequalled. He recorded information about the lives of saints, monasteries, shrines, ruins, relics and sacred images, which otherwise would have been lost. He also brought together much useful information on Irish nomenclature, especially place-names from across the country. In addition, the town of Carndonagh on the Inishowen peninsula, was an important ecclesiastical site from the 5th century. Prior to this there is strong archaeological evidence to suggest it was a place of worship for the Celts.

Marie Barrett’s commission investigated elements of religious practice and ritual in relation to local experience, and had three elements:

The Ark was a sculptural interpretation of the altar-like structures that were carried or rolled onto the beaches during Penal Times, and placed within the tidemarks – land not technically owned by landlords – where celebrants of Catholic Mass might thus avoid prosecution.

An exhibition/process room entitled ‘Turas’ was temporarily situated in the Pollan Beach car park area, show-casing a collection of photographic images of local ancient ecclesiastical sites, and documentation of other religious ephemera – prayer tallies, mass rocks, holy wells, pilgrimage and the Turas (the sacrificial practice of walking barefoot and praying).

Mission Bells were two bells which could be heard by parking at the roadside lay-by on the Mountain Road. They invited the audience to contemplate how, for centuries, bells have played an important role in calling people to work and prayer, and marking the time of day.




Cultural Connections: Strategic Plan For Cultural Services Division, Donegal County Council 2009–2014’, Donegal County Council publication.


Marie Barrett creates site-specific artwork through collaborative engagements which utilise processes of community development and dialogue. Previous projects have taken place nationally and internationally, including ‘Sitework’ public art project, Orchard Gallery, Derry; The International Studio Programme (P.S.1.), New York; and the Artists Work Programme, Irish Museum of Modern Art. She has been the recipient of several national and international awards including the Alice Berger Trust Award (Berlin), and the Cultural Relations Travel Award (Quebec).

Barrett has on-going involvement in international conferences and seminars that address issues relating to socially connected ways of making art. These included: New Zones for Critical Practice in Art Salford 1994; Chimera, Sydney 1995; Littoral, Dublin 1998 and InSite, San Diego/Tijuana, 2001.

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Ms. Terre Duffy, Public Art Officer, Donegal County Council
Commissioning process Open two-stage Competition
Public Presentation dates September 7, 2005 - September 10, 2005
Artform Visual Arts
Funded By Donegal County Council
Percent for art Yes
Project commission end date 10/09/2005
Location Sculpture – Pollan Beach; Exhibition – Pollan Beach car park; Mission Bells – Travelling north from Drumfries to Carndonagh along the ‘Mountain Road’ (R244), Bell 1 was located on the island in the smaller right-hand lake of Lough Naminn, while Bell 2 was located in the opposite lake of Lough Fad.
County Donega
Town Ballyliffin
Content contributor(s) Web Editor
Public engagement

An education project was undertaken by the artist with Transition Year Students from Carndonagh Community School.



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Nazareth Housing Association provides independent living houses for individuals and couples who are 65 and over and on the Sligo County Council housing list.  Nazareth Village is comprised of 48 houses in a garden setting.  The Village was financed as a public-private partnership between Nazareth Housing Association and Sligo County Council with funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.  

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