Artist Name(s) Ronnie Hughes
Artwork title Keepsakes
Context/Background Keepsakes was a performative commemoration including transparent resin spheres cast from a stone cannonball containing mementoes. These were released into the sea at Streedagh Beach, North County Sligo, at evening tide. The project involved a collaboration between the artist and 320 members of a local community. It poignantly marked the loss of over 1000 Spanish sailors on Streedagh beech when attacked in 1588 by local inhabitants and Royal forces. The sailors met their deaths as they were struggling to get ashore after the Spanish fleet was driven into rocks by violent storms.   In an evening performance, at full tide, the spheres were released back into the sea as an act of collective remembrance.


The Keepsakes project by Hughes consisted of various members of the local community have placing a memento, object, poem or photograph in each of the spheres.

Participants were also asked to contribute a piece born from a consideration of their own lives, memories and values in relation to the imagined lives of those lost on Streedagh Beach. Everyone involved was invited to the beach to witness the main event which was filmed. The resin cannonballs were arranged in twelve pyramidal stacks for a stretch of a mile along the beach.

As the tide crept in, the stacks one by one toppled gently into the sea and dispersed the cannonballs, some of which were drawn out into the bay, and some pitched upon the stony ridge. Each object, each story, is cast adrift from its owner and laid open for nonchalant encounters in time.


Ronnie Hughes was born in Belfast in 1965. From 1984 to 1989 he studied at the University of Ulster, receiving both his BA and MA in Fine Art. He has had numerous solo exhibitions throughout Ireland (most recently at the Fenderesky Gallery, Belfast) and has participated in group exhibitions in America, Canada, Germany, Japan, Poland and the United Kingdom. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including a one-year residency in New York (PS1, 1990-1991) and three-month residencies at Banff Arts Centre, Canada (1994) and Bemis Arts Centre, Nebraska (1997). His work is held in many public and corporate collections including both Irish Arts Councils and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The artist currently lives and works in Sligo and is represented by the Rubicon Gallery, Dublin.

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Sligo Local Authorities
Commissioning process Open Competition
Project commission dates December 7, 1999 - January 6, 2000
Public Presentation dates January 6, 2000 - January 1, 1970
Funded By Sligo County Council
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 10000 - 30000 euro
Project commission start date 07/12/1999
Project commission end date 06/01/2000
Location Streedagh Beach
County Sligo
Town Sligo
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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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