Dún a Rí Public Art Commission

Project Synopsis: This is a large-scale public art commission for Dun a Ri Forest Park. This initiative incorporates sculpture and literature and has arisen out of extensive consultation with the local community. Consultation revealed that the local landscape, and Dun a Ri in particular, is a great source of local pride. The Forest is a widely accessed amenity and is rich with historical legacies and a vibrant ecology. Also revealed is a passion for folklore and creative writing, as there are many histories for Dun a Ri! These histories combined with modern day influences may inspire a contemporary conception of Irish identity, since it is the ambition that the Park will encourage us once again to re-examine our conception of ‘Irishness’.



Badger by Joey Burns
Badger Sculpture by Joey Burns at Dún a Rí Forest Park

Red Ghosts at the Old Military Barracks
Six 'Red Ghosts' now occupy the Old Military Barracks at Dún a Rí

The Sculptural Commission
The brief is to respond to the natural environs of the forest through original works of art, creating a legacy which will, in turn, inspire a new contemporary mythology or modern day legend for Dún a Ri. The proposed outcomes are a series of site-specific works within the Park that will be sensitive to the history and ecology of the Park. It is envisaged that these works will provide inspiration as well as become an educational resource for the park's many visitors. An online portal will be developed for the project which will provide archival material which may be accessed by the general public long after the project life-cycle is complete.

Frog Sculpture
 Series of Frog sculptures form a 'leap frog' setting by 'Lady's Lake'

Fox Sculpture
 The Fox at Dún a Rí by artist, Joey Burns


Pine Marten Sculpture
 Pine Marten Sculpture by artist, Joey Burns


About the Artist: Joey Burns, Irish Wood Sculptor
Burns grew up along the Cavan-Meath border and spent his formative years touring as a performing musician with Dead Can Dance and studying the art of wood carving. Having undertaken a number of facilitation roles disseminating his skills to a wide demographic, he more recently facilitated and organised two large-scale sculpture projects to coincide with Cavan town hosting the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

In 2011 Burns was commissioned by Cavan County Council under the Department of Tourism Culture and Sports’ Percent for Art Scheme to produce a series of sculptures in Dún a Rí Forest Park, Kingscourt, Co. Cavan. The artists work responded to the local pride of place, particularly that of the Parkland, which boasts a rich historical and ecological setting. As part of this commission he engaged with the young people in the community to inform his approach and produced a series of fifteen large-scale pieces for the enchanted setting. This project reflected Burns long-term interest in Irish identity and related themes.

Burns has work in public collections and has been commissioned to produce work for visiting dignitaries and Irish Taoisigh. He has exhibited in Ireland, America, France and Sweden and represented Ireland at the first International sculpture symposium at Kawan in Brittany, France.

Otter Sculpture
                      Otter Sculpture now sits on the bank at the edge of the stream

     Hare Sculpture
                           Hare Sculpture at Dún a Rí Forest Park by Joey Burns


Dún a Rí Literary Competition
The literary competition is a search for a short story inspired by the magic of Dún a Rí Forest Park, Kingscourt, Co. Cavan. It aims to create a lasting legacy for the Forest which also acknowledges the existence of the unique sculptural works that have been commissioned for the Forest. This short story could be viewed as a modern day mythology or contemporary legend that informs popular vocabulary associated with the Forest as well as our rich and forever evolving sense of Irish identity.

The selected author(s) will have their work published in the form of the Dún a Rí App. 

A commemorative scroll and €500 will be awarded to the winner.

Dun a Ri Competition
All entries to be submitted online by 4pm on Thursday 17th May 2012. *Competition is now closed*

For further queries contact Cavan County Council Arts Office at  T: +353 (0)49 4378548 E:

View or download rules and criteria of competition

Download Artist Statement by Joey Burns, Irish Wood Sculpture, Dún A Rí Project here

Download map of Dún a Rí Forest Park here

We at Cavan Arts would like to thank everyone who entered a short story into this competition. A decision has been made by a panel of readers and judges and the winner has been selected...

...The winner is Margaret Maguire with her short story 'Willow'.
Congratulations to Margaret! We look forward to working with her and her story as part of our up and coming Dún a Rí App.

Margaret Maguire - BIOG
Born in Co. Longford, Margaret now lives in Arva, Co. Cavan with her husband. They have four grown-up children who all live in Ireland. Margaret has been writing stories and poems since she was six. She says she loves writing but hates the computer!

Nevertheless she types her own work and sends it to competitions. She has had success locally including the staging of her short play "Doing Time" by the drama students in Cavan College, under the direction of Peter O'Hanlon. Margaret also had a poem called "The Church Gate Collection" published by Cavan Arts in a millennium anthology.

Margaret knows the countryside of County Cavan including the forest parks of Dun a Ri and Killakeel. She is also aware of myths, superstitions and legends handed down to her by her grandmother. As regards her story, "Willow", she says it is a story about many things including nature, being lost, the essence of the earth / God / people. It is also about journeying and about guidance from the 'Spirit'.

With many thanks to our readers and adjudicators.
Reading Panel: Seamus Cashman and Nollaig Rowan.
Adjudication Panel: Tom Contay, Rita Kelly and Keith Young.

Reading Panel for the Dún a Rí Short Story Competition

NOLLAIG ROWAN is from Dublin where she works as a Child Psychologist. She began writing short stories and poetry in the 1990s when her children were young. She has attended workshops with Faber & Faber and at the Irish Writers Centre. She is coordinator of Atrium Writers Group, Dublin.

Nollaig’s work has been broadcast on RTE Radio 1 and Lyric FM. In 2008 she won first prize in Dromineer Literary festival poetry competition and was shortlisted in the Fish short story competition. She is published in the Quiet Quarter (2009), Windows poetry (2009) Blue Suitcase (2011) and several other anthologies. She was awarded a bursary to attend Tyrone Guthrie centre last year where she worked on a first collection of stories. Recently she was short-listed in the Francis MacManus radio short story competition and her story “You” is broadcast on 3rd July 2012, RTE Radio 1, 11.10pm (and available on the RTE website).

Nollaig lives with her family in Ranelagh, Dublin but escapes to an island off the south-west coast as often as possible. Inspiration for her stories comes from everything around her but especially relationships between people.

Nollaig Rowan

Seamus Cashman

Poet and publisher Seamus Cashman founded the Irish literary publishing house Wolfhound Press in 1974 and was its publisher until 2001. His third poetry collection is That Morning will Come: new and selected poems (SalmonPoetry, 2007). He co-edited the classic anthology, Irish Poems for Young People (1975, 2000); and compiled the award winning Something Beginning with P: new poems from Irish poets (O’Brien Press, 2004).

In addition to his own writing, he is a publishing, writing and editing consultant (BookConsulT), and a creative writing workshop facilitator. Originally from county Cork, he lives in Portmarnock.





Adjudication Panel for the Dún a Rí Short Story Competition and E-book Project

Poet and teacher, originally from Cavan and now living in Dublin. A founding member of Temenos Theatre in the 90’s,For more than 30 years he has worked with the creative arts in education, initiating and leading innovative projects in fiction, poetry, drama, dance and film. He has been an adviser in the past to the Arts Council on policies for Arts in Education He is a recipient of a Tyrone Guthrie bursary from Cavan Co. Council.

His first collection ‘An Exaltation of Starlings’ was published by Doghouse in 2010.

Tom Conaty

Keith Young
KEITH YOUNG has worked in the IT sector for 8 years, starting with Apple in the UK. Over the last 5 years he has been focused on helping schools use ICT for teaching and learning. Recent trends in the adoption of ICT in education have increased that uptake dramatically, with a large number of schools opting for digital textbooks on tablet devices like the iPad. Keith is working with over 20 schools in the coming year who will give iPads to each student; development of staff technology competency and digital literacy skills in students are key areas for development in those schools. Keith recently completed an MSc in Education Management (elearning) and is starting Doctoral studies this year.

Keith's philosophy for technology is that it enables creativity of all types, whether in education, arts or science.




Born Galway 1953. Writes in English & Irish, poetry, fiction, drama & criticism. She has won various awards for her work including, Seán Ó Riordáin Oireachtas Award, Maxwell House Award, Irish Times/Merriman Poetry Award, Listowel Writers’ Award, Patrick & Kathleen Kavanagh Memorial Award. She has been awarded 4 Arts Council Bursaries. She has been part of the Irish Poets’ Tour of Scotland & the Highlands on 3 occasions.

She has published 5 collections of poetry and another collection is due 2013. Her Kelly reads Bewick won the Best Printed Book in Ireland for 2001. Her short stories were placed on the Literature Courses at Yale University in the late 80’s. Her work has been translated into German, French, Italian & Dutch.

She holds a MA. She has held positions of Writer-in-Residence in Co Laois and in Co Cavan.

Rita Kelly


About Dún a Rí Forest Park

Geology Dun a RiGeology
The woods and parkland of Dún a Rí are of interest to a wide range of specialist interest groups, including botanists, foresters , historians and geologists, as well as the casual visitor. Geologists will be interested in the formation of the glen. For example, there is a geographical fault or land subsidence that runs north-south – close to the forest’s car park. Dún a Rí is now a great bird sanctuary – haunt of the pheasant, cuckoo, skylark, woodcock, barn owl, mallard, teal, coot and moorhen. Bluebells fill the peaceful glade with a blue haze, almost. Snowdrops and foxgloves, and mature trees like the spruce, oak, hazel and holly also combine to make it a veritable wonderland of nature.

For full content on the geology, forest and wildlife of Dún a Rí, click here

Oliver CromwellHistory
The O’ Reilly clan owned the land around Dún a Rí until the end of the 16th Century while the Flemings were the main landlords until the 17th Century. The supported the losing side during the Jacobite Williamite War and, like many followers of James II, their lands were confiscated. From 1666, the lands were in possession of Colonel Thomas Cooch and his forebears, the Pratt family. In 1959, the then Forestry Division of the Department of Lands acquired the entire estate. The park is now managed by Coillte.

Find more on the history of Dún a Rí here



Hansel and Gretel

Folklore is compacted wisdom literature that yields more information with each reading.

There is much we can learn by reflecting on the stories heard in childhood. Magical characters such as the Pied Piper, the talking frog and the fairy godmother are likely to remain in the imagination for a lifetime. The adventures these stories describe often reflect challenges we face in our journeys. The tales hide a wealth of insights just below the surface. They are clearly more than mere entertainment for children.

View or download full content on folklore here




“Oh to be in Doonaree with the sweetheart
I once knew,
To stroll in the shade of the leafy glade
where rhododendron grew,”
- Eilish Boland

Poetry Dun a Ri

It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that the author of this enchanting song, Eilish Boland, a native of Kingscourt, has brought the freshness, the fragrance and undoubted glamour of Dún a Rí down from the sleeping slopes of Loch-an-Lea into every Irish home and, indeed, to place abroad, far flung from the little hills of Breffni.

See poetry by Eilish Boland and Aisling Murtagh

Listen to 'My Place is Endless' poem by St. Joseph's N.S. Kingscourt students. Tom Conaty and Yvonne Cullivan.©

Download pdf 'My Place is Endless' created by St. Josephs N.S. Tom Conaty and Yvonne Cullivan.©

Watch project video by Joey Burns here

Donohoe, B. “The Songs and Stories Our Fathers Loved: Ireland’s Glorious Heritage”, Donohoe, n.d. p.20; 2003.
Hussey, W.G. “Dún a Rí Co. Cavan: The First Complete Record of Dún a Rí, in text picture and song”, Hussey, W.G. P.3; 1956.
Magner, D. “Stopping by Woods: a guide to the forests and woodlands of Ireland”, Magner, D. p.63-64; 2011
Ref:An tSeirbhis Foraoise agus Fia dhúlra, nd. No publication date (Pre-1990).
Young, J. “Once Upon a Time: How Fairy Tales Shape Our Lives.” Inside Journal magazine; Fall 1997.

Cavan Arts Logo    Cavan County Council Crest     Coillte Logo    Department of Tourism Culture and Sport Logo


Date and time:

29 Feb 2012 - 30 May 2013

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