Shane Crossan pictured alongside a prototype Iora Nua installed in Longford County Council offices
Longford County Council is inviting locally based artists to submit proposals under a new public art project marking Longford’s infamous historical association with squirrels.
Longford Arts Office in partnership with Longford Live & Local and Mide Arts Group are currently developing the Iora Nua (New Squirrel) project that is set to reinvigorate three town centres with an injection of artistic flair this spring.
This project is part of Longford County Council’s Public Art Programme, funded by Longford Arts Office, the Creative Ireland programme and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
Iora is the Irish word for squirrel and many people may not be aware that it was at the grounds of Castle Forbes in County Longford where the North American grey squirrel was first released into Ireland in the summer of 1911.
A number of grey squirrels were presented as a wedding gift on the lawns of the beautiful castle, but the invasive breed ultimately went on to cause a 20% decline in the numbers of its smaller cousin, the native Irish red squirrel.
This Iora Nua project involves the placement of giant fibreglass squirrel sculptures in each of the three municipal districts of the county.
The Mide Arts Group is looking for Longford-based artists to submit proposals for the design and rendering of the sculptures’ surfaces. Selected artists will be given a financial grant to cover their time, materials and venue rental in order to render their design on the sculpture. Finished works will be placed at designated sites in Longford Town, Ballymahon and Granard.
“This is a fantastic project”, said Arts Officer Fergus Kennedy, “It taps into Longford’s association with the squirrel and adds some more colour and fun to towns of the county as we emerge from this pandemic”.
Details of the Iora Nua open call including submission forms can be found on www.republicofculture.ie or by contacting email@example.com. Deadline for submissions is 5pm on Monday, January 31, 2022.
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