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Motorway masterpieces get show on the road

TO some they are a roadside distraction, but to others they are motorway masterpieces.

The highways and byways of Ireland are increasingly flanked by massive artworks -- from iron age warriors on horseback to cut-out cattle.

Many of these intriguing landmarks have been photographed and collected for a new book by Ann Lane, who travelled 25,750km around the country in her trusty Honda Civic.

The 760 pieces of roadside art she documented feature in 'By The Way -- A Selection of Public Art in Ireland'.

"What started me off was a calendar given to me by my late sister Kathleen, which featured roadside art in Cork," she said

"One piece, 'An Capall Mo', intrigued me. It's a huge Celtic horse by Tighe O'Donoghue Rosson on the Cork/Kerry border, I went to photograph it and was so impressed it inspired me to catalogue roadside art right around the country," she said.

The Cork woman estimates there are as many as 1,500 pieces of roadside art throughout Ireland.

And we can thank presidential candidate Michael D Higgins TD for most of it.

As minister for arts in 1997, he was mainly responsible for the Per Cent For Art Scheme, which approved up to 1pc funding for public art in the budgets of public bodies delivering capital programmes.


"Mainly this money ended up in public art and that's why there's a proliferation of it on motorways -- and why so much of it is quite recent," added Ms Lane, who worked as a personal assistant to Mary Robinson for 28 years, and now works with Senator Ivana Bacik in Leinster House.

However, the author said she was unable to feature many more pieces of art in her 350-page book because she had been unable to identify the artists responsible. "I feel strongly there should be a plate with the name of the artist and the title of the work on each one," she added.

Irish Independent