It has been christened the welcome wall.
Up to now, visitors to Portarlington arriving by train were faced with a grim first impression of the town. That has all been changed in what is already one of the most commented on facelifts of the Dirty Old Towns project.
Artists, builders and gardeners have combined forces to turn the wall surrounding McMahons old factory into a gallery of murals showing Port’s heritage and scenery, led by Kevin Hoey.
Cited as one of the areas needing work in the first public meeting with the programme’s presenter Diarmuid Gavin, the project was not without a few hitches. A near calamity was averted when someone noticed the “t” left out of Portarlington, while painter Sarah Delaney from Abbeyleix had to rescue her terrier Jack when he jumped into a paint bucket.
Jack will be something of a celebrity when the programme airs on RTE next month, as producers put a DOT high vis jacket on and filmed him as he sat happily supervising his mistress’s work.
“The whole crowd have been fantastic. I am amazed how many people are here, it’s very inspirational to see everybody pull their weight and put in the hours,” said Sarah, a full time artist.
David Butler was painting a scene of French Church, helped by his daughter Erin.
“I’ve been here since 7.30 this morning, the same yesterday. Nearly everyone involved on this is from outside Port originally,” he noted, himself a Kildare native.
“The people are lovely, they are stopping their cars and telling us what they think. Two young lads asked us why we painted the nuclear tower from the Simpsons. Port power station is gone 15 years, they would never have seen it,” he notes.
“I got six phonecalls already praising the work. One said we know you are tired and stressed out, but what an impression you have made,” said Mags Foster, chair of Port Tidy Towns.