Prosperity from Famine

Workhouse Attic Memorial, St George’s Church

Leitrim’s new facilities at St George’s Church and the Carrick Workhouse represent a triumph of local commitment.

​Perceiving that some of the most evocative and beautiful spaces in the town were in a state of neglect, their stories in danger of being forgotten, the members of Carrick on Shannon’s Heritage Group resolved to renew their historic fabric and share their stories.

The spaces in question could not be more different – the dormitory attic of a Famine Workhouse, preserved as in a time warp, and the jewel-like First Fruits Church of St George, built in 1829. Unlikely though their “twinning” may appear, these spaces tell a powerful story between them – of age old Christian belief, revolt and suppression, plantation and cultural patronage, starvation and depopulation, heroism in battle, the birth of the Irish Republic and growth and prosperity in recent years.

At St Georges stories are told through clusters of banners which fall through a metre high void and are choreographed to rise and fall to the music of Bach and Telemann. When the Church is required for worship or an event the banners lift into the ceiling, while showcased objects and graphic elements remain to enrich the environment.

These displays are balanced by a series of elegantly proportioned showcases containing collections of ecclesiastical silver, archival material and trophies. Quotations from local writers, John McGahern, William Slator and Susan Mitchell, embrace the space and underscore Leitrim’s literary traditions.

​The Workhouse Attic is an extraordinary place, presented in its original state and heavy with resonance. It is representative of hundreds of other such spaces across Ireland in which tens of thousands
were forced to live. It is conceived as a monument to a time in history and recognition of every individual who has suffered or died from deprivation or disease.

The significance of the Space is interpreted through a powerful artwork entitled ‘No Colouring Can Deepen The Darkness of Truth.’

Project type

Heritage / Visitor Attraction

Scope of works

  • Interpretative Planning
  • Exhibition Design and Creative Direction
  • Graphic Design
  • Media Direction
  • Design and Construct

Scale

1500m2 (threaded throughout the church), 200m2 in Workhouse

Location

Carrick on Shannon

Programme

2007-2008

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