Vandalism has put back the launch of a new art trail in Ballyshannon.
A mural created by local artists at The Mall has been defaced by graffiti in the form of two swastikas.
Dr Caoimhín Mac Aoidh, Chairperson of Donegal Local Development Company Ltd., which supported the creation of the mural, expressed his “deep revulsion and disappointment “ and news of the damage.
The mural was completed by a number of local youth participating on the Volunteering in the Community Programme delivered by DLDC in conjunction with the IFI. The young people worked closely with the Ballyshannon Regeneration and the project was facilitated by artist Barry Sweeny.
Dr Mac Aoidh said; “The young people worked exceptionally hard and with great dedication to contribute a mural of high artistic quality depicting the history and environment of their town. In doing so they brought pride on their families and on their town. All of this positive effort has now been defaced by having two swastikas sprayed on the work.
“Given the horrific ideologies of those partial to such an icon as the swastika, we cannot think of a more anti-social reaction to the hard work of the positive youth of Ballyshannon”, he added.
Barry Sweeny was initially “quite annoyed” but doesn’t believe there was genuine malice behind the act. “I think it’s a bit of mindless thuggery”, he told the Democrat yesterday.
Two young artists, Thomas Downey and Shane Roper, did most of the artwork on the mural and Mr Sweeny says he feels particularly bad for them. “They had never painted anything like that before and they got so much out of it. To see it defaced like that was quite a disappointment.”
The big question, he continued is “How are we going to fix this, and when?”
He also made a very generous offer, saying he’d like to “turn a bad thing into a good one”.
“If the people responsible for it want to contact me, completely anonymously, I would do a half day’s workshop on them going through the history of the symbolism of the ‘swastika’, long before it was ever used by the Nazis.
“We were going to launch the trail this month but that’s been delayed because of this. We won’t go ahead until the mural is restored.”
Barry Sweeny can be contacted via his Facebook page or on 087 964 965.
See photo of vandalism and letters - page 18