A Very Grand Canal

Photo of the Grand Canal in Tullamore by Clare Dunne

A Very Grand Canal is a collection of artistic responses to the Grand Canal commissioned by Offaly County Council through the per cent for arts scheme. It features three main elements. A short film entitled A Grand Experience by Mixed Bay Media featuring three local artists as they create new work while travelling along the Grand Canal. A sound installation by Susanna Caprara and eight prints by Geraldine O'Reilly.

DVD's & CD's Available to Buy & Download

The DVD A Grand Experience can be ordered from www.mixedbagmedia.com. A trailor of the film can be seen on our OffalyArts Youtube.

The CD of Wayne Brennan's song 'Roots in these Lands' is also available from Offaly County Council for €5 or it can be downloaded free by following this link.

A Very Grand Canal - About the Project

In 2011, Offaly County Council embarked on a project to use the per cent for art scheme to re-imagine the Grand Canal in Offaly for its cultural values, including its cultural tourism potential. Lots had been done in terms of leisure tourism but we felt we needed a whole new approach with regards to its cultural potential.

Artists really have the most unique way of seeing things, of approaching and communicating a concept. Three projects were chosen.

Poster for A Grand Experience film by Mixed Bag Media

A Grand Experience

a 74 min film documentary following 3 artists: Eugene O'Brien (writer) Veronica Nicholson (photographer) and Wayne Brennan (musician) on a barge from Shannon Harbour to Edenderry as they embark on a passage of/journey for inspiration along the Grand Canal. Produced by Martina McGlynn and directed by Garrett Daly of Mixed Bag Media.

Geraldine O'Reilly's A Grand Canal Commission

A Grand Canal Commission

A series of 8 prints depicting the history and legacy of the Grand Canal by Geraldine O'Reilly

School Group Working on Grand Canal

Six mooring and a silent thread

By La Cosa Perziosa (Susanna Caprara) a series of 6 X 10 minute sonic interpretation of the flow and voices of the Grand Canal.

The Three Artists on the boat and involved in The Grand Experience Film produced the following pieces of work.

The Guerrillas of Love Light Comes Through - Five large photo prints of the 68M at night, a light installation and a photographic animation of moving through the canal by Veronica Nicholson . Photoagraphic Animation can be seen on You Tube.

The Greaser A short story by Eugene O'Brien.

Roots in these Lands a song by Wayne Brennan

Each of these outputs will have a life beyond exhibition. The film A Grand Experience was shown on RTE in October 2012 and February 2013 and has been submitted to film festivals. Wayne Brennan's song won first prize in the 2012 RTE/RAAP Bursary awards in the Traditional Irish/Folk categorythe and is played around the world and on music tours. Eugene's prose will be retold through storytelling and publications and Veronica's photographs are much admired by the photographic community. Much of this work can also exist online, a now powerful international platform for cultural exchange.

The Touring Exhibition:

The exhibition has been in several galleries in Ireland, including the Luan Gallery (March 2013) the Waterways Ireland Headquarters, Enniskillen, Waterways Ireland Visitors Centre during the Dublin Tall Ships Festival, Aras an Chontae, Tullamore and Public Access Arts, Edenderry. Workshops and screenings of A Grand Experience ran in conjunction with these exhibitions.

A Very Grand Canal - The Artists

Photograph of Artists involvied in the collective per cent for art programme A Very Grand Canal Experience.

Poster for A Grand Experience film by Mixed Bag Media

Martina McGlynn & Garret Daly run Mixed Bag Media, a production company in Daingean Co. Offaly. They have produced a number of films and documentaries including the award winning Who is Dervla Murphy? and the short film Bogman

Eugene OBrien

Eugene O'Brien is a writer and actor. His play, 'Eden', was produced by the Abbey Theatre on the Peacock stage before transferring to the theatre's main Abbey stage. Eden won the Irish Times and the Stewart Parker Awards for Best New Play in 2001 and was subsequently staged at the Arts Theatre, on London's West End. Eugene O'Brien has also written for television, including the IFTA-winning RTÉ series 'Pure Mule' in 2005. He is from Edenderry.

Wayne Brennan

Wayne Brennan is a critically acclaimed musician from Offaly, whose debut Album In my Hands is the perfect introduction to the life and mind of someone who lives and breathes music. He has toured extensively and been feature on RTE numerous times. He currently lives in Spain.

Photograph taken by Veronica Nicholson

Veronica Nicholson is a freelance photographer and artist living and working in Offaly. She has travelled extensively and has worked on numerous residencies. In 1999 Nicolson visited the Middle East and Pakistan to photograph Irish emigrants for a book entitled 'The Scattering' which was published in 2000. She has exhibited in numerous major group and solo exhibitions and is a recipient of many awards from the Arts Council of Ireland. He has recently graduated with Masters in Art in the Digital World from NCAD.

Geraldine O'Reilly's A Grand Canal Commission

Geraldine O'Reilly is a visual artist working in the mediums of painting, drawing, print-making and photography. She has received many awards for her artwork and in 2004 she was elected a member of AOSDANA for her contribution to the arts in Ireland. She is a long time member of the Graphic Studio Dublin, of which was has been a board member since 2004 and chairperson in 2008.

Photograph of Sound Installation by Suzanna Caprara

La Cosa Preziosa (Susanna Caprara) is an award-winning sound artist originally from the south of Italy and based in Dublin. She produces original work in the form of aural soundscapes and experimental organic tracks. She is a recipient of the prestigious Europe: A Sound Panorama juried prize for soundscape art. In addition to her soundart work, Susanna is the Founder & Director of the first international Artists' Residency to open in her native Basilicata, Palazzo Rinaldi.


Previous Press Releases

A Grand Experience Premiere

Over 200 hundred people packed into screen 1 in Tullamore Omniplex last Tuesday for the premier of A Grand Experience. The film documentary is about 3 artists, Eugene O’Brien, Veronica Nicholson and Wayne Brennan on board the 68M barge from Shannon Harbour to Edenderry. Produced by Martina McGlynn and Directed by Garret Daly the film captures the people they met, the places they visit and the inspiration they find.

The documentary was funded by Offaly County Council through the per cent for art scheme as part of a collection of artistic responses to the Grand Canal, which were launched the evening before by Minister for the Arts Jimmy Deenihan.

The audience largely made up of the people who took part locally, public representatives, the artists and their families and friends were eagerly anticipating seeing the film for the first time.

Speaking at the launch, incoming Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, Cllr. Peter Ormond said ,“ I think you will agree when you see this film, that Martina and Garret have created an extraordinary perspective of the Grand Canal, one which captures its beauty, the welcoming community and the inspiration the Grand Canal can have on three artists. We would like to thank everyone who participated in the making of this film, particularly members of community from Shannon Harbour through to Edenderry who came out in force to be part of it. In particular we would like to thank those who have spend countless voluntary hours promoting and protecting the Grand Canal, from the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland, Tullamore Canal Community Group,  Ballycommon Canal Regeneration Group, Pullogh Action Group, Ferbane Development Association, Daingean Development Association to the Heritage Boat Association to Waterways Ireland. It is your tireless work which has enabled the Grand Canal to be promoted in this way and this we greatly appreciate.”

As the opening sequences began, it became very obvious that this is a film with great expectations, which are quickly met. From the cinematic opening shots to the relief that all the artists are relaxed and at ease with the cameras, the journey begins on its slow rhythmic traverse across the county. Along the way they discover unique and diverse aspects of life along the canal, from a boat builder and violin maker in Belmont, to the nuns at the Presentation Convent in Rahan, Sculpture in the Parklands, the French influenced Boland’s Lock House and yoga in Ballycommon. During the journey the artists begin to connect to each other their shared experience and create their own responses to the expedition; listening to old canal stories, Eugene O’Brien wrote a short story called the Greaser, Veronica Nicholson created a series of photographs and an animation and Wayne composed a song called Roots in these Lands, which he later performed to the delight of those at the reception afterwards.

The film was enthusiastically received and the audience was animated in their praise afterwards. Garret Daly had captured with a cinematic flair the beauty of the canal, its built heritage and surrounding changing landscape and many agreed that their eyes were now re-opened to something they had begun to take for granted.

Following the premier, Offaly County Council will work with Mixed Bag Media to promote the film through film festivals, RTE, arts festivals and other local screening opportunities.

Arts Officer, Sinead O’Reilly said “it is our intention that this film and all the outputs from these commissions will reach a wide audience and speak of Offaly as a place of cultural wealth and inspiration.”

The full collection of a Very Grand Canal which includes prints by Geraldine O’Reilly, a soundscape by La Cosa Preziosa (Susanna Caprara) and Veronica Nichols photographs and installation from the barge trip, are on view \t Aras an Chontae until July 31st, where after it will begin a national tour of events, venues and galleries.


National Exposure for the Arts in Offaly

Minister Deenihan with artists of A Very Grand Canal Experience

Monday June 25th was a busy day for the arts in Offaly, with Minister for Arts, Jimmy Deenihan TD launching two projects and RTE's Nationwide filming the artists involved in the Grand Canal projects.

First of all the Minister arrived in St. Josephs Hall Kilcormac to launch the Kilcormac Cantata CD which was composed by Vincent Kennedy. The CD was the culmination of a year of work by Vincent along with the schools, local choirs, singing groups, poets and musicians, which was recorded during the project finale last November. The students of St. Kieran's National School in Broughal, Scoil Naofa agus Chormac gave rousing renditions of Steal Away and Silver River conducted by Vincent Kennedy. Speaking at the launch the Minister spoke of the importance of music in children's lives; that he hoped the community of Kilcormac would keep Vincent's music alive and encourage the children to carry music with them always. The County Manager paid tribute to Vincent Kennedy, for bringing the community together in such a celebratory way and reiterated the councils commitment to using the per cent for art scheme in more imaginative ways around the county.

Later that afternoon, the Minister travelled to Aras an Chontae for the launch of a Very Grand Canal, a collection of artistic responses to the Grand Canal commissioned by Offaly County Council. The exhibition includes work by Geraldine O'Reilly, Susanna Caprara (La Cosa Preziosa) , Martina McGlynn, Garret Daly, Eugene O'Brien, Veronica Nicholson and Wayne Brennan. The collection of prints, film, photography, soundscapes, music and literature form a multi layered approach to celebrating the Grand Canal. From archival material to an illuminated sign saying GRAND, the work is intended to travel beyond the county boundaries and promote the Grand Canal nationally as a cultural corridor. The Minister paid tribute to all the artists involved, for rising to the challenge set by Offaly County Council and surpassing it. He also commended the council for using the per cent for art scheme to create work that is rooted in the county but has the capacity to travel nationally and internationally. The event was rounded off by Eugene O'Brien reading an extract from his short story the Greaser, and Wayne Brennan gave a rendition of Roots in these Lands to a rousing reception. The exhibition continues in Aras an Chontae until the end of July, when it will then travel onward to other venues nationally. Earlier that day RTE's nationwide interviewed all the artists in involved in the Grand Canal projects, which will be aired later in the summer


Join the Grand (Canal) Experience

Members of the public are invited to participate in A Grand Experience a public art project by Offaly County Council with the crew of the historic Lora Marie 68M Barge as they embark on a unique journey from Shannon Harbour to Edenderry this March.

A Grand Experience is a film documentary about the life and ways of the Grand Canal during a barge journey eastwards in Offaly. The passengers on board are an eclectic mix of artists from Offaly; well known playright and writer of Pure Mule, Eugene O'Brien from Edenderry; singer songwriter Wayne Brennan from Daingean, and Veronica Nicholson, a photographer and installation artist from Rhode.

This documentary will follow the exploration of these three artists, with differing and distinct disciplines, as they embark on a journey to engage in their own artistic response to the canal they navigate. They will explore the fields the canal touches, the lives it encourages and the inspiration it has created. The documentary, which is being made by Martina McGlynn and Garret Daly of Mixed Bag Media in Daingean, will capture their experience, and record the formation of what will be their presented art work once their personal journey has been completed.

The project is one of three being funded by Offaly County Council under the percent for art scheme, all of which are aimed at placing a national spot light on the Grand Canal in Offaly as a Cultural Corridor. The film documentary A Grand Experience will be released later this year. If you'd like to see The Historic 68m Barge on its journey, and meet the people involved it will be at the following locations:

Monday 19th March - Shannon Harbour (10am - 4pm) arrive Belmont 6pm

Tuesday 20th March - Dept Belmont 10am, arrive Pullough 3pm

Wednesday 21st March - Rahan (10am 2pm) arrive Tullamore 5pm

Thursday 22nd March - Tullamore until 1pm, arrive Ballycommon 6.30pm

Friday 23rd March - arrive Daingean 11.30am

Saturday 24th March - arrive Edenderry 3pm

This is a great opportunity for community groups, school children, retirement groups and the general public to come along and share a story, a cup of tea or even just to wave at the barge as it passes by. If you feel there is a member of The Grand Canal community that we should meet along the way, then email info@mixedbagmedia.com or visit the Facebook page A Grand Experience


T 057 9357400 E soreilly@offalycoco.ie W www.offaly.ie