A huge mural commemorating the late and legendary Wexford accordion champion George Ross has been painted on a gable wall in The Faythe area of town where he lived.
George who won an All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil accordion title in 1956 is captured in a 440 sq ft larger-than-life painting on the end wall of a property owned by the well-known Drinagh builder and traditional singer Paddy Berry of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann who came up with the idea of honouring him in this way.
The mural was designed and executed by third year Fine Art Degree students at the Wexford School of Art and Design in association with South End Family Resource Cente and with the help of pupils from the Faythe School. It features George and his accordion with a music note line from his favourite tune 'The Mason's Apron' and also a boat, symbolising the proud maritime traditon of the locality.
After winning the All-Ireland, George, a blacksmith with Pierces foundry, made four 78rpm recordings which are now collectors' items and embarked on a tour of America. He performed solo and with the Mayglass Ceili Band the Loch Garman Ceili Band and also broadcast on Céilí House on RTE as part of the Tuskar Quartet with Gerry Forde, Conor Geoghegan and Liam Gaul whom he taught to play the button accordion. He had a talent for composing new tunes and extra parts to existing tunes.
The striking mural is a symbolic gesture in Wexford's bid to host the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in 2020 and underlines the town's proud traditional music heritage.
Art students Jamie Sinnott, Patrick MacMonagle, Ronan Moore, Richard Walsh, Laura Flood, Eddie McGuinness and Sonya Weston became involved as part of a community practice model on the Wexford School of Art and Design Carlow Campus course and finalised the project in partnership with the Southend Centre, using photographs of George to work through various sketches and come up with an agreed design and final draft.
Paddy Berry supplied a cherry picker for the artists to reach the higher points of the wall while Faythe school students worked on the lower sections.
The project took a year to organise with the earlier preparations put in place by the 2017 third year students at the Carlow Campus and brought to completion by this year's students.
According to Paddy Berry, there are plans to hold a big seisiún in the area to launch the mural. 'This is a fantastic community, there are so many great projects and activities going on here', he said.