James Earley, Tony Byrne, and Cian Walker Pay Homage to Cork’s History, Ardú Street Art Festival 2023

The vibrant energy of the Ardú Street Art Festival is once again transforming the streets of Cork into a canvas for talented artists.

The cityscape is adorned with stunning works of street art created by previous artists Deirdre Breen, Maser, James Earley, Peter Martin, Shane O’Driscoll, Aches, Garreth Joyce, Shane O’Malley, Friz, Conor Harrington, Asbestos, Claire Prouvost, Kitsune Jolene, and VENTS137.

Now in its fourth year, Ardú Street Art Festival reveals its most recent addition to the collection, a stunning collaborative mural on Harley Street. The mural was created by three of Cork’s most beloved street artists: James Earley, Tony Byrne, and Cian Walker. The trio has been friends of the festival since the beginning and has been painting in Cork for over 15 years, making them an integral part of the city’s art scene.

The mural is a beautiful homage to Cork’s history as a thriving port city, with visual cues that allude to the River Lee’s importance to the trade of Cork and Ireland.

The piece’s earthy tones and vibrant colours create a stunning contrast that adds to the impressive and stimulating mural. The mural’s use of hard-edged geometric shapes refers to the urban elements of Cork City. At the same time, including more organic forms suggests links to the river’s sediment and the county’s rural areas. Other references include abstractions on the logos of Dunlop, Ford, and Cork marble.

James Earley, Tony Byrne, and Cian Walker have created a visually stunning and meaningful mural that adds to the city’s character and vibrancy. Their collaboration showcases their unique styles, techniques, and themes; speaking about the large-scale mural, they explain…

“When we first met to discuss potential ideas for this mural, we found that each of us had been exploring similar ideas, a positive sign from the get-go. We had a fruitful meeting wherein we discussed ideas of industry, geography, and the ever-changing facets of Cork as a city. Given its significant history as a thriving port city, we wanted to create a work that alludes to the River Lee, its movement and its importance to the trade of Cork, and Ireland as a whole. Utilising earthy tones offset by more vivid and vibrant colours we feel that the piece pays homage to the history of the county and its energy in moving forward as a city of cosmopolitan modernity. Hard-edged geometric shapes make reference to the urban elements of Cork City, in combination with more organic forms that suggest links to the sediment of the river and the more rural areas of the county. There are visual cues hidden within the composition, abstractions on the logos of Dunlop and Ford, for example, the water from the image on the county flag, alongside less oblique references such as the use of Cork marble in the piece, our aim was to create an exciting, stimulating mural that allows viewers to appreciate on a purely aesthetic level but also one that offers nuggets of reference and inspiration for those who wish to explore more deeply.”


The immense mural dedicated to Cork’s history has been finished. Take a closer look at the intricate details and colours used to bring this magnificent artwork to life. With its earthy hues and meticulous attention to detail, the mural is a testament to Cork’s rich cultural heritage.

The festival was founded during lockdown 2020 by Shane O’Driscoll, Peter Martin, and Paul Gleeson, and managed by Rose-Anne Kidney of Goldiefish Events, with support from Cork City Council and Creative Ireland.

Ardú is supported by the Creative Ireland Programme, an all-of-government five-year initiative which places creativity at the centre of public policy. Further information from creativeireland.gov. This project would not be possible without the support of Cork City Council and Ardú’s generous sponsors, Pat McDonnell Paints.

Photo credit Clare Keogh / Ardú Street Art Festival



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