Artist Name(s) Andrew Kearney
Artwork title Illumination
Context/Background Breaking Ground - the Per Cent for Art programme for Ballymun Regeneration Ltd. - was launched in February 2002. Breaking Ground produced some of the most engaged, diverse and challenging public art projects in Ireland, and as such is widely recognised as the flagship for contemporary public art projects.  The Boiler House Built in the 1960s the Boiler House in Ballymun provided the district heating and hot water system for over 2,800 families in the area. With its distinctive red and white striped chimney, the building was always an iconic landmark in Ballymun. On the 29 July 2010 the Boiler House shut down, to facilitate the demolition of the remaining flat blocks in Ballymun. Early in 2010, the iconic Boiler House site was put forward for an international competition – the ‘Europan 10’ architectural competition – to attract young talent to find an innovative architectural and urban solution for the site. ‘Boiler-House Art Studios’ by Ross Lambe Architect (UK) won the award for the Ballymun site. In early May 2014, it was confirmed that the building would be saved from demolition and transformed into a centre of ‘green’ learning, thanks to a successful campaign led by local environmental group, The Rediscovery Centre, backed by Dublin City Council, who secured €3.6 million of funding through the E.U’s ‘LIFE+’ environment fund, to develop the site. The new eco centre will provide education and training programmes in sustainable development. Work is expected to begin before the end of 2014 and will be facilitated by co-funding from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Andrew Kearney was curated by Breaking Ground in 2002,, to make a non-permanent installation to mark the beginning of the series of art commissions attendant to the Ballymun regeneration programme. After consulting with residents, Andrew made a public artwork which illuminated the iconic Boiler House, located in the heart of Ballymun and which generated underfloor heating and hot water for the flats up until 2010. (See below). Illumination was first lit at a public ceremony on 14 February 2002, Valentine's Day.

On his research visits, Andrew had been struck by the darkness of the area around the Boilerhouse in the evening and night and so proposed illuminating the area in a wash of pink light. "Illumination" consisted of a series of light installations, which illuminated the building of the Boiler House at the heart of the Ballymun estate. The lighting techniques included low-tech red flood-lighting, and a shaft of deep magenta directional spot-lighting, positioned at the base of the chimney, introducing a vertical strip to light up the full height of the building. A spot-lit, motorised mirror ball was also installed in the internal spiral staircase, introducing a ‘whimsical thread’ to the building, playing on its perceived role within community.  

A low budget project which was intended to be operational for just a couple of months, the installation was so well loved locally and by the staff of the Boiler House, that Breaking Ground maintained the work over three years, timed to turn on over the Winter months, from 4.00 p.m to midnight. The warm pink glow at the centre of Ballymun was missed when it had to be finally dismantled.


Local residents who had expressed an interest in the greater Breaking Ground project and who had been heavily involved in the drafting of the commissioning strategy and subsequent artists' brief, along with neighbours from the immediate neighbourhood Coultry, were invited and brought to see Kearney's solo exhibition in Limerick City Gallery in January 2002.


Publication and Art Trail Map: ‘Breaking Ground 2001-2009’: 200 page A5 publication mapping the work of Breaking Ground from 2001 – 2009. The book presents commissioned work undertaken by artists and residents around the Ballymun area.

Exhibition: ‘Breaking Ground & Ballymun, 2001 – 2009’, Axis Gallery, Ballymun, (23rd October 2009 – 1st January 2010)

‘Ballymun Boiler House Shuts Down’, Ballymun Regeneration News, Issue 90, July/August 2010

 Dublin City Council Press Release ‘Green plan for Ballymun’s boiler house wins €3.6m EU funding’, May 2014:



Andrew Kearney, a mixed media installation artist, was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1961. He studied Fine Art at the Limerick College of Art and Design, and then went on to Chelsea College of Art and Design where he obtained an MA in sculpture.

He won the Barclays Young Artist award in the Serpentine gallery London in 1992. The same year he was awarded a fellowship in the PS1 studios of contemporary art in New York. He moved back to London in 1993 where he developed an installation for the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin. The following year he developed other installations for the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, the Camden Arts Centre, London and the Ottawa Art Gallery, Ontario Canada. Site specific work led to collaborative architecture and public art projects, including Heathrow's terminal 1 pier 4A (architect Nicholas Grimshaw) and Public Art Development Trust, also Glen Howell architects "Courtyard Project" involving South Thames College, London and the Public Arts Commission Agency. He developed two large installation projects in Ireland in 2001-2002 and in 2004 he returned from his second residence at Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada. He completed a three year fellowship in Middlesex University funded by the AHRC in 2008 with the publication of two books and culminating in an instalation on the South Bank – part of the London Architecture Biennale. He is currently working on an integrated intelligent lighting system on the fly tower of the Wexford Opera House entitled ‘Liquid Mountain’.

Commission Type Local Authority,Regeneration Agency
Commissioner Name Aisling Prior for Breaking Ground, Ballymun Regeneration Ltd
Commissioning process Curated Commission: Implemented and administered by Breaking Ground - the Ballymun Regeneration Ltd. Per Cent for Art scheme.
Artform Visual Arts
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 0 - 10000 euro
Project commission end date 14/02/2002
Location The Boiler House
County Dublin
Street Address Main St, Ballymun, Dublin 9
Content contributor(s) Web Editor
Associated professionals / Specialists involved

The Staff and Crew of the Boilerhouse

Cian Harte, Architect, Ballymun Regeneration

Eamonn Elliott, Photography, Ballymun Regeneration

Dublin City Council Electricity and Public Lighting Department



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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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