Launch of ‘Breath of Fresh Éire’ – Art Collaboration Between Gaisce, Oberstown and An Garda Síochána Balbriggan

Breath of Fresh Éire, a ground-breaking art collaboration between Gaisce – The President’s Award, Oberstown Children Detention Campus and An Garda Síochána Balbriggan was officially launched on Thursday March 28th 

Breath of Fresh Éire consists of three art installations, created by the young people of Oberstown and overseen by artist Joe Caslin. The three parts of the project are:  

  • Life’s Patterns, a series of ten individual art pieces drawn by Gardaí and the young people at Oberstown; 
  • A Breath of Fresh Éire, a large piece of artwork pained by the young people and community Gardaí. 
  • Outreach, a large mural, created in collaboration by Gardaí, artist Joe Caslin and the young people at Oberstown. 

The project aimed to foster a sense of understanding and connection between the young people, An Garda Síochána, and the wider Balbriggan community. 

As part of their Gaisce Award, the project was facilitated through a series of seven workshops at Oberstown, led by Joe Caslin. The artwork aims to harness the voice and imagination of a new generation, showcase their talent, and promote positive collaboration between young people from Oberstown Children Detention Campus and Community Gardaí from Balbriggan Garda Station and Gaisce – The President’s Award. 

Creating a common ground between the Balbriggan Gardaí and the young people in Oberstown was an essential factor in the success of the collaboration.  A Gaisce team member, using the Narrative 4 Story Exchange process which employs storytelling as a basis to create empathy, worked closely with both groups to empower the participants and to empathise with each other.

Check out the story of how a Breath of Fresh Éire came to life:

Joe O’Brien, Minister of State for Community Development and Charities and TD for Dublin Fingal officially unveiled the Outreach mural which is now displayed on the side of Balbriggan Garda Station. The piece depicts a varied group of hands reaching towards a single extended hand of a Garda and speaks of care, collaboration and the need to work together. The hands featured in the painting represent the young people in Oberstown, and members of the Balbriggan community. 

The Breath of Fresh Éire mural is now installed in Balbriggan Rugby Club, and the Life’s Patterns series of images are displayed on the walls of Balbriggan Garda Station.  

Avril Ryan, CEO, Gaisce – The President’s Award, is delighted with the success of the collaboration: “We are proud to partner with Oberstown and An Garda Síochána Balbriggan. Projects like Breath of Fresh Éire demonstrate the value of the Gaisce Award in the lives of young people and how Award activities can provide young people with a framework to link and positively engage with their communities. Through their Gaisce Award progression, young people can transform their lives and change their story by uplifting their spirits, providing hope for the future, and opening pathways to new horizons they never imagined were possible. This partnership is an exemplar of what organisations across society can do when we work together to ensure young people can access and achieve their full potential and have their voices heard”.   

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