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Blessington CC creates a live burning phoenix in response to Covid pandemic

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Dylan Friel, Finn Jordan, Finn Behan, Katie McNally and Jack McManus at Blessington Community College.

Dylan Friel, Finn Jordan, Finn Behan, Katie McNally and Jack McManus at Blessington Community College.

Students watching as the Phoenix sculpture burns.

Students watching as the Phoenix sculpture burns.

The Phoenix before it was set on fire.

The Phoenix before it was set on fire.

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Dylan Friel, Finn Jordan, Finn Behan, Katie McNally and Jack McManus at Blessington Community College.

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MONTHS of hard-work culminated on Wednesday as students from Blessington Community College set alight a larger-than-life sculpture of a Phoenix in mid-air, suspended high on a wire in the school grounds.

The past two-years have proved difficult for all students due to the Covid pandemic, and second-year art students from Blessington Community College decided to express their feelings by developing the ‘Phoenix Project’. They commenced in January by designing and building a large-scale sculpture of a Phoenix.

“The sculpture is made from Papier Mache on a chicken wireframe,” explained art teacher Turlough O’Donnell

“Using Newspapers collected over the last two years, the final skin of the sculpture was made up of headlines associated with the Pandemic. These headlines are still visible on the surface of the finished work. The students also invited all year groups and classes in the school to write a note on a yellow post-it which expressed their individual experiences.

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“This note could represent frustration or hope for the future. Around 500 notes were collected and these were then transformed into yellow feathers and were glued to the underside of the wings. The paper was folded first so that the message remained private and cannot be seen or read.”

Once the sculpture was complete, it was suspended in the school concourse for all to see, in preparation for burning it on Wednesday. At 12.45 p.m. students Meerab Fiaz, Tessa Karels and Holly O’Reilly introduced the event to the entire school population who had assembled outside the main school building. They explained the background to the project and how it developed. Then the three girls, along with Ceadan Ashe and Adam Willoughby, took giant flaming torches and lit the sculpture of the Phoenix.

The sculpture burst into flame and after about five minutes of intense burning it was completely gone. In the fire-pit just below the sculpture the students had placed a large ceramic egg which was removed from the fire and placed in the schools special display cabinet.

This egg which symbolises new life will be kept in the school as a constant reminder of this event and of the pandemic which has been part of all our lives for the last two years.

As a safety measure a local fire engine was on standby manned by school caretaker Donal Rossiter who is a member of the Blessington Fire Service. His knowledge and expertise were an essential part of the success of the project.


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