TY’s Artistic Endeavours Receive National Coverage

Pandemic fails to put a stop to students’ creative endeavours for innovative art exhibition

When the world as they knew it was collapsing around them, an oak-inspired art project became a symbol of the resilience of students and teachers at St Nathy’s College.

Now the colourful mural is displayed on a school wall as a permanent reminder of the hard work and creativity of pupils at the Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon school in the year that Covid hit.

It is also one of the entries in the annual Creative Engagement Exhibition hosted by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), to showcase the artistic talent and innovation among second-level students.

The annual exhibition, which was opened by Arts Minister Catherine Martin, runs online until Saturday. It is all the more impressive this year with students challenged to complete the project during the pandemic.

Work on the St Nathy’s mural depicting the mighty oak and a rainbow, and made of bottle tops, had started well before the pandemic closed the school last March.

Pupils had collected thousands of bottletops, mainly from strategically placed baskets in the school and community settings, such as nursing homes, for their: Bringing Plastic to Life – Out of Waste Grows Beauty mural.

Local artist Mo Robertson was a guiding hand and the project started with one group of Transition Year (TY) pupils, but the sudden interruption to in-school teaching last spring disrupted the work.

That might have been the end of it, but Karen Munnelly the school’s Creative Engagement co-ordinator said: “When we came back in September, the new TY picked up the mantle and we finished it.

“You could easily have given up on it because of the closure, but we pushed through with the project and we were determined to see it through to the end.

“We showed resilience, just like the oak shows resilience. Ballaghaderreen is the ‘town of the little oak’, the oak is also on the school crest and students used this as a motivation to finish the artwork despite interruptions to class time.”

A cross-curricular approach also involved woodwork students, who made benches, complete with planters, designed to sit in front of the mural and to be filled by the horticulture class.


Above is an extract from an article in the ‘Irish Independent’ by Katherine Donnelly published on 5/3/21. To see the article in full, please click the link below: