• West Cork Literary Festival 8-15 July 2022

Visual Artist will wash Joyce’s words into Liffey walls

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Derek Flynn

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In what sounds like an exciting new project, quotes from James Joyce’s Dubliners are to be washed into the grime on the Liffey wall. From Independent.ie:

 As part of a new €8,000 public art project, random words from the short stories’ collection will be power-hosed into the “patina of the quay walls”, Dublin City Council has revealed.

 The artist who came up with the plan, Fergal McCarthy, has previously devised Liffeytown and No Man’s Land, “two enormously successful interventions on the river in 2010 and 2011”, the local authority said. Completing the trilogy, the new Word River project “takes the form of a site-specific, public art project on the Liffey quays in Dublin”, it added.

In a report, senior planner Mary Conway stated: “This project celebrates Dublin’s unique status as a Unesco City of Literature and pays homage to the river that has inspired many of its writers, especially Joyce. Word River involves the washing of a 1.5km long sentence of words taken randomly from Joyce’s Dubliners into the patina of the quay walls. The words will be washed using stencils and a power hose operated from a boat on the river.”

“It will take up to 12 months for the words to fade and disappear,” Ms Conway said. It will be stencilled on the south quay walls, between O’Connell Bridge and James Joyce Bridge.

 McCarthy, a visual artist from Co Limerick, wrote on his blog:

 “Much of my recent work has centred on the Liffey. Behan said that Joyce had made the river ‘The Ganges of the literary world’. I began to think that it would be interesting to make my next Liffey based project about words and marry these two seemingly unconnected strands of my practice. I hope to stencil hundreds of metre high words into the grime of the Liffey walls using a powerhose to form a 1km long linear stripe of text visible from the quays.

 The words will be sourced from Joyce’s Dubliners (another Liffey obsessive) and this time members of the public will be invited to join me on a personal tour of the intervention in a rowing boat.”

 The artist’s previous works are fascinating. This is “No Man’s Land”:

No Man's Land

and “Liffeytown”:


McCarthy says he is “currently in discussions to try to make Word River happen in 2013.”

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