CELEBRITY gardener Diarmuid Gavin’s visit to Ballinacurra Weston will be screened on RTÉ One tonight.
The latest episode of Dirty Old Towns sees Gavin visit Ballinacurra Weston on several occasion “to witness the start of regeneration” and if the area can “forge a new identity for itself”.
Gavin was in Weston recently to see Irish soccer legend John Giles launch his upcoming charity walk, which will mark the official launch of the brand new all-weather soccer pitch in Our Lady of Lourdes Community Centre, the foundation of which also features in the programme.
Limerick Regeneration funded the new pitch and two community gardens - which Gavin expressed his approval of on the visit - as well as a giant mural painted by local children, all of which feature in the programme.
“We had a project with children from the school here who designed murals and they were brilliant, working with local artists,” explained Gavin.
“The kids have been great, it is difficult because in this community, there is a sense that it has been abandoned for many years, so it is step by step, letting people know that things are about to happen, even in these difficult financial circumstances. People are wary, but once they see things happening, they certainly come out and get involved.
“There is a great feeling of hope here and I think that is what projects like this are all about, trying to let communities know there is a future and people who live around here are very proud of where they live,” he added.
Local artist Ana Carey, a student in LIT LSAD in the city, was one of the drivers of the mural project on the regeneration’s behalf, and worked with ten local artists to complete it.
Tasked by regeneration to include local kids in the mural’s creation, Ana went to Our Lady of Lourdes national school and encouraged pupils to take part in a Celtic drawing competition. Six winners saw their designs painted onto a wall alongside the nearby church, creating a mural almost 60m long.
“The kids got to take part, we taught them how to translate their drawings onto the wall and allow them to put their work on their, street, across from their school,” explained Ms Carey.
“Having Dirty Old Towns come in and get involved was wonderful and gives a voice to the project, but things took off more than you are likely to see on TV and the actual impact of the project was amazing. By the end of the week there were kids from all over the area coming to watch us,” she added.