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18-metre mural marks 50 years of Down Syndrome Ireland

The artwork depicts 21-year-old Amanda Butler from Mullingar.

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Amanda Butler stands beside a street artwork of herself (Damien Eagers/PA)

Amanda Butler stands beside a street artwork of herself (Damien Eagers/PA)

Amanda Butler stands beside a street artwork of herself (Damien Eagers/PA)

An 18-metre (60ft) mural of a 21-year-old woman with Down Syndrome is the newest work of art to adorn the walls of Dublin city centre.

Created to mark the 50th anniversary of Down Syndrome Ireland, the mural – which took three weeks to produce – was unveiled on Harcourt Street on Tuesday.

The image is of Amanda Butler from Mullingar and was created by Irish artist Joe Caslin – perhaps best known for another large-scale mural in 2015 that featured prominently in the Irish campaign for same-sex marriage.

Entitled Don’t Talk Down To Me, the artwork took some 12 hours to place on the wall.

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Amanda Butler stands beside the street artwork with activist Joe Caslin in Dublin (Damien Eagers/PA)

Amanda Butler stands beside the street artwork with activist Joe Caslin in Dublin (Damien Eagers/PA)

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Amanda Butler stands beside the street artwork with activist Joe Caslin in Dublin (Damien Eagers/PA)

“The artwork is Amanda looking down on the world and she is asking you to consider her place within a community, a workplace, and the healthcare setting,” Mr Caslin said.

“I first met Amanda a year ago – the idea I get to work with a friend, there is an honesty in that. I haven’t come along and put someone on a wall I don’t know.

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“It’s a friendship and it’s lovely and I am really proud.

“I feel like I am only the middle-man, it’s about Amanda and those with Down Syndrome and what they can bring to your world if you allow that positivity in.

“Amanda came into the studio and we ran through some poses and looked at the structure of the wall. So the drawing leans into the building and uses the architecture of the building as if she is leaning out.”

The unveiling of the image also coincides with a new report from Down Syndrome Ireland that reveals how the reality of life for people with Down Syndrome and their families often falls short of many people’s aspirations.

We hope the artwork shows the positivity and vibrancy in terms of what people with Down syndrome can bring to societyBarry Sheridan

Barry Sheridan, CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland, said: “We want to celebrate how far we have come over the last 50 years, but we want to use the opportunity to present the difficulties and challenges that people with Down Syndrome in this country still face.

“We hope the artwork shows the positivity and vibrancy in terms of what people with Down Syndrome can bring to society.

“We want people to start conversations, we want people to raise awareness, and we want people to understand why we have done so much.”

Mr Sheridan said there is much more Ireland can do to ensure it is an inclusive society.

He said that people with Down Syndrome face difficulties throughout their life.

“It’s right across life cycle from early years through education and employment and health complications,” he added.

“Fifty years ago, people with Down Syndrome were often forgotten about and hidden away, so we have progressed in society, but are we really truly inclusive?

“We have children waiting four years for hospital appointments, we are really under resourced for services in this country.

“Families have to raise money to try and get the type of therapies that should be provided by the state.”


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