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Teanga - Aisling an Phobail

Artist Name(s) Brian O'Doherty
Artwork title Teanga - Aisling an Phobail
Context/Background An Nasc (a non-profit Irish language development organisation based in West Belfast) commissioned a large scale public art piece to celebrate the Irish language and to ‘act as a landmark for An Cheathru Ghaeltachta/ Gaeltacht Quarter of Belfast’.

Teanga - Aisling an Phobail is a stone labyrinth which was inspired by the St. Brigid’s cross – Ireland’s oldest peace symbol.

The labyrinth has been an archetypal form in O’Doherty’s work since the mid-1960s. Unlike the labyrinths of ancient mythology, O’Doherty’s labyrinths do not threaten the visitor, but rather facilitates an experience which connects the body with the mind.

The perimeter of the stone sculpture is engraved with various Belfast place names, including Ráth Cúile (Rathchoole) and Bóthar Seoighe (Shaws Road).


‘Belfast draws on the old for new art work’, Irish Echo, 9th June 2011


Brian O’Doherty was born in 1928 in Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon, and currently lives and works in New York.

He studied at University College Dublin, graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine in 1955. O’Doherty later emerged as a highly influential figure of the 1960s art scene. In addition to his work as a visual artist, he is a renowned writer and critic and a significant cultural figure, both in Ireland and America.

O’Doherty’s seminal essay ‘Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space’ first appeared in 1976 in Artforum.

In 2000, the University of California published a collection of O'Doherty's essays "Inside the White Cube, the Ideology of the Gallery Space", with an introduction by Thomas McEvilley. (ISBN: 9780520220409)

As a protest to the events of Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972, Brian O’Doherty famously adopted the pseudonym and identity ‘Patrick Ireland’ in a public performance at the Project Arts Centre. He exhibited under this name for thirty-six years in numerous exhibitions, including Documenta, the Venice Biennale, and ROSC.

With the establishment of an all-party government in Northern Ireland, the identity of 'Patrick Ireland' was officially waked, and an effigy buried at a large public ceremony in the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Kilmainham in 2008. Loopline Films documented the live art performance, excerpts of which can be seen on-line.

For further on O'Doherty's alter ego, Patrick Ireland, see

Commission Type Other
Commissioner Name Máirtín O'Muilleoir, Chairman of An Nasc Ltd.
Commissioning process Open submission: Two-stage competition, publicly advertised tender. (Selection and tendering procedures in compliance with the Council’s Draft Procurement Policy).
Belfast City Council - Integrated Development Fund (£80,000).
Arts Council of Northern Ireland - Re-Imagining Communities programme (£50,000). Foras na Gaeilge (£30,000).
Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.
Greater Shankill Enterprise Council. Ullans Academy.
Artform Visual Arts
Art Practice Arts Participation
Budget Range 150000 - 250000 euro
Location At the entrance to the Beechmount Leisure Centre, The Gaeltacht Quarter. 
County Antrim
Town Belfast
Street Address Falls Road, Belfast.
Content contributor(s) Web editor
Relationship to project
Public engagement

The sculpture is a labyrinth and so invites public interaction and spontaneous engagement.

Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Artist Robert Ballagh & Architect Ciarán Mackel