Eyes on the road!

Road users driving between Macroom and Baile Bhuirne might feel like they’re being watched of late, but don’t worry, it’s art!

Two large sculptures of female heads have been installed on the N22 in county Cork representing women from the Rebel County’s ancestral and mythological past. The first sculpture, The Bronze Age Girl, represents a young female whose remains were found in a burial site during the archaeological works for the N22 development, having been cremated and buried with considerable care and effort at Kilnagurteen, some 3,500 years ago.

The second sculpture represents the mythical goddess Áine, who is associated with fertility, abundance, and the midsummer point of the year.

Áine is located on the raised verge facing oncoming westbound traffic in the townland of Coolavokig and has been positioned to face the summer solstice sunrise. The Bronze Age Girl is located on the raised verge facing oncoming eastbound traffic in the townland of Carrigaphooca and is lined up to face the winter solstice sunset.

The sculptures were created by West Cork-based artist Sarah Goyvaerts and are made of ferrocement over a mesh and stainless-steel framework. They include natural pigments distilled from rocks found in the Baile Bhuirne area.

They were commissioned by Cork County Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland with funding from the Per Cent for Art Scheme for the N22 development. Welcoming the installation of the artworks, Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Frank O’Flynn said: “Sarah Goyvaerts and her creative team have brought history and myth to life. These pieces not only beautify the landscape but also serve as a testament to our cultural legacy, marking our relationship to place and keeping our stories alive,” he added.

Speaking of her work, artist Sarah Goyvaerts said the sculptures serve as an acknowledgement of the deep ancestral connection and relationship to the land that is at the very core of the Múscraí’s cultural creativity and spirit of place.

“By drawing awareness from the wider cultural landscape of the Paps, through to the archaeological discoveries made in the course of the construction of this road, my hope is that the sculptures will act as a starting point, carrying the story of connection between the tangible and intangible, the connection between people and place that is intrinsically woven into the very fabric of the communities in Múscraí today,” said Ms Goyvaerts.

The project has seen creative engagement with local communities and a podcast series entitled ‘Céimeanna - Tales and Trails’. When making the accompanying podcast, Ms Goyvaerts and Pádraig Ó Duinnín recorded conversations with people in Múscraí with knowledge or stories to tell about the area along the N22 development.