Last Sunday, while I was over in Dublin, walking down Nassau Street from the National Gallery I happened to glance down a little side street between the Kilkenny Shop and Reads bookstore and . I’ve passed by many a time in the past, but on this occasion I spotted something and thought I’d take a closer look.
This is what I saw
A quite stunning mosaic mural on the wall behind a car park.
There was no information about the mural or the artist, but it appeared to show mythological characters. In the 1970’s I had a copy of the Táin , a concept album by the Irish folk rock band, Horslips which was based on the Irish epic, Táin Bó Cuailnge (The “Cattle Raid of Cooley“) so I guessed it had something to do with the legend. After a little research on t’internet I managed to find this blog post about the wall which revealed that I was right.
The mosaic was created by Desmond Kinney in 1974 for the owners of Setanta House which is opposite the wall. Since a change of owner, it seems to have been rather neglected and tucked away off busy Nassau Street it doesn’t appear to be well known.
The mosaic shows key scenes from the story of the mythological hero Cú Chulainn– the Hound of Culann, whose original name was Setanta, and how he defended Ulster from the forces of Queen Medh who had invaded to steal the prize stud bull Donn Cúailnge.
The Táin by Horslips was released in 1973 . The most popular track, driven by a rather excellent guitar riff based on from a traditional folk standard, “O’Neill’s Cavalry March”, was “Dearg Doom” (“Red Destroyer”) , yet another name for Setanta / Cú Chulainn.