The Rose Mural
I was contacted by Ken Tobin, founder of HQ Tralee, and was asked if I would be able to paint a mural.
Ken’s vision was to create a community of businesses within a certain area in Tralee Town that would encourage growth in the area while improving people’s experience when visiting the town centre.
This community of businesses working together was later called Tess Quarter, and many of these businesses contributed to the creation of this mural, a focal point for Tess Quarter.
The members of Tess Quarter include:
HQ Tralee, Croí Restaurant, The Abbey Inn, Yummy Cafe, B-mobile, Seán Óg’s, Ela Maria, John Dough’s, Billy Nolan, Dowlings Shoes, Surf N Sail, New Yorkers, The Coin Off Licence, No.4 on the Square, An Cearnog and Cassidy’s Restaurant.
The Rose of Tralee
I suggested that we create something based off of The Rose of Tralee since it’s such an icon event in the towns’ history.
I love the origin story of “The Rose of Tralee”.
It is a love story; one which I thought was very reminicent of the Grimm Brothers’ stories. It holds a tragic ending with a lesson near the end; don’t leave things too long or they might not be there when you get back.
My thought process then moved to Disney as the majority of older movies are based off of the Grimms’ fairy tales. The Rose of Tralee, is ultimately a fairy tale. Today, int he town’s International rose of Tralee contest, we see “princesses” up on stage, competing to be everyone’s favourite Rose, but its foundations originate from a tragedy.
This reminded me of how Disney transform these sad ending tales into “Happily Ever Afters”.
My next thoughts focused on the “rose” aspect. When I connected roses to Disney, I thought of “Beauty and the Beast”. This movie uses stained windows to tell the Beast’s tragic story at the beginning of the movie. The stained window has a gothic sadness to it, but also allows for bright punchy imagery; exactly what the businesses funding this project wanted; something to catch teh eye of those passering by. So perfect! I went with a “stained window” style.
I had worked on a few murals while travelling through India that summer, but painting a mural across both a 2 & 3 story building was no joke!
The surface of the walls was rough so I was glad I went with the block imagery. The graphic style allowed me get across the illusion of shading through panels of different colour. This made painting on such a huge scale a lot easier.
In the final image that I used for the mural I tried to tell the story of William Pembroke Mulchinock and Mary O’Connor.
In the original story William, a wealthy Protestant, fell in love with Mary, a poor Catholic maid in service of his parents. This story has many different versions but in the version I have been told his parents would not allow them to be together. If William was to choose to be with her they would deprive him of their wealth. So William decided to move to America to make a business for himself with the aim that when he had earned enough he would return to Mary.
When he returned to Ireland years later he went to have a drink at his favourite bar. When he sat down the barman closed the windows, as was tradition when a funeral was passing. William asked the barman who had passed away. The barman lowered his head and told him that Mary had died of a sickness not too long ago.
William was too late…
In this painting I drew William and Mary exchanging roses. The rose is a symbol of their promise to one another, that William would return to Mary and that she would wait for him. In this image the rose is just blooming representing their young love and contains colours from both William’s blue and Mary’s pink. However, like all images it can be interpreted in other ways.
I have also seen the rose as the inspiration that Mary left William. William had apparently always called her his “Rose of Tralee”. And so this is her passing on the inspiration to commemorate her and found the “Rose of Tralee” festival in her name.