Per Cent for Art Scheme Sculptures Installed as part of N22 Road Development

Bronze Age Girl N22 Sculpture.

Two large scale artistic features have been installed along the new N22 road between Macroom and Baile Bhuirne.  The sculptural forms representing female heads were created by West Cork based artist Sarah Goyvaerts and were commissioned by Cork County Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland with funding from the Per Cent for Art Scheme for the N22 development. 

The first ancestral sculpture ‘The Bronze Age Girl’ represents a young female whose remains were found in a burial site during the archaeological works for the N22 development, having been cremated and buried with considerable care and effort at Kilnagurteen some 3,500 years ago. The second ancestor represents the mythical goddess Áine, who is associated with fertility, abundance, and the midsummer point of the year. 

‘Áine’ is located on the raised verge facing oncoming westbound traffic in the townland of Coolavokig and has been positioned to face the Summer Solstice sunrise.  ‘The Bronze Age Girl’ is located on the raised verge facing oncoming eastbound traffic in the townland of Carrigaphooca and is lined up to face the Winter Solstice sunset. The sculptures were created in ferrocement over a mesh and stainless-steel framework and include natural pigments distilled from rocks found in the Baile Bhuirne area.

Welcoming the installation of the artworks, Mayor of the County of Cork, Frank O’Flynn said,

As we unveil these captivating sculptures along the N22 development, we are celebrating the many benefits that the Macroom to Baile Bhuirne bypass has brought to the community, paving the way for future growth, while also looking to our past. Sarah Goyvaerts and her creative team have brought history and myth to life. These pieces not only beautify the landscape but also serve as a testament to our cultural legacy, marking our relationship to place and keeping our stories alive.

Speaking of her work, artist Sarah Goyvaerts says, “The sculptures serve as an acknowledgement of the deep ancestral connection and relationship to the land that is at the very core of the Múscraí’s cultural creativity and spirit of place. By drawing awareness from the wider cultural landscape of the Paps, through to the archaeological discoveries made in the course of the construction of this road, my hope is that the sculptures will act as a starting point, carrying the story of connection between the tangible and intangible, the connection between people and place that is intrinsically woven into the very fabric of the communities in Múscraí today. These sculptures are intended as a bridge linking the present day to the past, giving face to the ancestors as a mystical presence held in the landscape.” 

This public art project has seen creative engagement with local communities and a podcast series entitled ‘Céimeanna - Tales and Trails’. When making the accompanying podcast Sarah Goyvaerts and Pádraig Ó Duinnín recorded conversations with people in Múscraí with knowledge or stories to tell about the area along the N22 development. The podcast explores connections between placemaking, collective memory, storytelling, and the environment. The series is available on the ‘Céimeanna’ Instagram and YouTube channels. 

Ahead of the installation, artist Sarah Goyvaerts said of the Per Cent for Art Commission: “I’m excited for the public to finally see ‘The Bronze Age Girl’ and ‘Áine’ ancestor sculptures. It was a privilege to create works for a part of the county that I’m very familiar with.