This month’s Thursday Doors features some more street art but this time from Ballycastle, County Antrim with some Irish mythology thrown in. Many towns in Ireland are now commissioning artists to brighten up their localities with murals depicting their history and culture. Some are epic pieces that fill the gable of a two or three story house and others are more subtle and blend in with their surroundings. I loved this first one at the Coffee Loft, where we had a delicious lunch. It’s set in a small garden centre in the middle of the town and the painted doors and windows really add that cosy, cottagey feel to the place.
I’ll leave you to figure out what is real and what is not in the next image of the buildings across the street from the garden centre.
Copies of old photographs have been magnified and added to some walls around the town and this one is probably my favourite, a little girl and her calf. Ballycastle was a thriving market town in the past and I think this is a lovely reminder of that.
Of course there is always a colourful gable mural to be found and this one was easy to spot.
I’m pretty sure this mural depicts Sadhbh, the wife of Fionn MaCumhaill who is associated with the Giant’s Causeway not far from Ballycastle. The oak leaf possibly refers to the oak tree being a Celtic symbol for strength. Because Sadhbh refused to marry a druid he put a spell on her and she changed into a young doe and remained like that for over three years. One of the druid’s men felt sorry for her and said if she entered the home of one of the Fianna (a fearsome warrior band in Irish mythology) the spell would be broken.
Sadhbh took his advice and left, eventually arriving at the home of Fionn MaCumhaill, leader of the Fianna. When she was transformed into her original human form, the mighty warrior instantly fell in love with her and she must have felt the same way, as not long after they were married. However their time together was short lived.
When she became pregnant Fionn was overjoyed but the evil druid cursed Sadhbh as he had never forgiven her for refusing him. She was once again transformed into a deer, while her husband was away in battle. When Fionn returned his wife was missing and he spent the next seven years searching the whole of Ireland for her. One day he came across a young boy who had been living wild in the forests and mountains. His two hounds ran to the child and protected him and Fionn took a good look at his face and saw a similarity to his missing wife.
Realizing this must be his son, Fionn took the boy home with him and named him Oisin, who went on to become the greatest of all the Fianna. Unfortunately, Sadhbh was never found.
Update: I have just found a link online to this street art. It doesn’t depict Sadhbh but I’m leaving the story up as it’s a good one. This mural was painted by the artist Friz and features Princess Taisie, daughter of King Dorm of Rathlin Island. She was renowned for her great beauty and was bethrothed to Congal, heir to the Kingdom of Ireland. The king of Norway also sought her hand in marriage but when he arrived to claim his bride her wedding celebrations to Congal were underway. The King of Norway and his army tried to capture Taisie but in the subsequent battle he was killed and his army fled leaderless and empty handed. I think I prefer the story of Sadhbh but at least this week you got two for the price of one.
Thanks for stopping by. There are lots more links to doors and photos from around the world over on Dan’s blog. I hope you enjoyed this month’s Thursday Doors with its street art and mythology.