Dolmen Centre’s “Tree of Inspiration” to be an art installation at Carlow Library

14th March, 2019

A colourful “Tree of Inspiration”, created locally by artists at the Dolmen Centre led by their Artist in Residence Mary Cassidy, will be taking up position as an interactive exhibit this week at the Town Library on Tullow Street, Carlow.

 The “Tree of Inspiration” is the culmination of a collobarative eight month long project at the Dolmen Centre’s Studio and Gallery at St. Dympna’s Hospital, involving the HSE/South East Community Healthcare’s mental health services with Carlow County Library Services, supported by grant aid from Carlow County Council. 

The “Tree of Inspiration” project began in August 2018, when the artist service users at the Dolmen Centre came together with their Nurse Managers Siobhán O’Mahoney and Carmel Keegan – along with Artist in Residence Mary Cassidy – and suggested a creative project between themselves and the Library. 

The drive for the “Tree of Inspiration”  idea came from a greater need to involve those recovering from mental illness to engage in public projects. This has the double benefit of facilitating those in recovery to create worthwhile art pieces, thus developing their artistic skills, as well as engaging with the public through the forum of Carlow County Library – who themselves promote a health awareness programme on an ongoing basis. 


“Breaking down barriers through the medium of art” is what Artist in Residence Mary Cassidy calls it, adding:

“Art is for everyone, by everyone and about everyone.... so much healing and positivity comes through engaging with your own creative journey. This is so evident with those experiencing mental illness, when they engage with that little seed of creativity, water it, give it light and let it grow. The person themselves grows, heals and changes. We are so delighted to have had this wonderful opportunity to collaborate with the Manger of the Library John Shorthall and his team of fellow staff and visionaries in Carlow County Library. They all came on board, loved the idea of a functional, interactive sculpture for use by the young readers and –with Carlow County Council – have supported us fully throughout our journey”.

HSE/South East Community Healthcare’s General Manager for Mental Health Services David Heffernan has congratulated all of those involved and is looking forward to people viewing the piece and for its creators to take pride in the public aspect of the project:

 “The Tree of Inspiration is based on a fantastical version of an oak tree, which in ancient Ireland was believed to be the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ and the ‘King of the Forest’. So, it is very fitting that a tree of knowledge should find its way into a place of knowledge, offering inspiration, joy and comfort to all who engage with this functional sculpture. The whole project has taken eight months to complete, being a real labour of love and creativity. It has brought enormous happiness, pride and confidence – together with a great feeling of achievement to each of the 20 artists involved.” 

The tree sculpture is designed with a tabletop incorporated in to it and hand painted with fairies and fantasy creatures. The seats are designed by artist Mary Cassidy and hand made in Irish ash by furniture maker Patrick Walsh of Saltmills, Co. Wexford. The wood work was facilitated by Danny Byrne of Declan Byrne & Sons, Timber Suppliers, Graiguecullen, Carlow. The sculpture itself is made of a variety of materials, including recycled materials such as bubble wrap and cardboard – as well as Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF), wood, chicken wire, cotton cloth, latex, pva, acrylic paint and topped off with an amazing, colourful array of 550 hand felted wool oak leaves, acorns, birds, a squirrel eating an acorn, a thrush with its nest of eggs and many other little hand felted characters hidden within its branches.

Looking forward to its public display, Artist in Residence Mary Cassidy reminds the public:

“This functional sculpture is made to be enjoyed and to be used by the children as they take pleasure in the magical world of books, in the company of a new work of art, created, designed and built especially for them, by a group of talented artists from the Dolmen Studio.”


Regarding attached photograph

 Tree of Inspiration

Artist in Residence Mary Cassidy and the “Tree of Inspiration” at the Dolmen Centre Studio, St. Dympna’s Hospital, Carlow.

Last updated on: 15 / 03 / 2019