'Bouncy dolmen' goes on show


IRELAND’S ATTITUDE to one of its most iconic megalithic monuments has inspired a US artist to create a “bouncy castle” version which is on exhibition in the west from today.

The “Poulnabrone bouncy dolmen” is about twice the size of the actual pre-Christian stone tomb on the Burren. It will be inflated by artist Jim Ricks in Kylebrack woods, southeast of Loughrea, Co Galway, this evening.

The project, which was commissioned by Galway County Council and supported by the Arts Council, involves three artists who have been invited to create temporary art works that engage creatively with communities in the Aughty region of the county.

Ricks says he chose to make a giant soft sculpture for children,modelled on Poulnabrone, as a playful symbol of “post-Celtic Tiger Ireland”.

The portal dolmen in the heart of the Burren is believed to date to about 3800 BC, and the bodies of 21 people were found in the tomb.

“Poulnabrone, which is older than the pyramids, is heavily marketed as an icon of the Burren and of ancient Ireland, and then you have bouncy castles as an icon of our recent contemporary society,” Ricks says. “Both are emblematic of an Ireland, past and present.

“Interestingly, the Slieve Aughty region, where it will be exhibited, has no dolmens at all, but wedge tombs,” he adds.

“We thought that Heritage Week would be a good time to open the exhibit in south Galway, and it will tour into Clare also.”

Ricks worked with a bouncy castle manufacturer in Britain on the sculpture, which inflates in minutes with a high-powered fan.

“It was finished to professional standards, so it is perfectly safe for children.”

Fellow artists Marie Connole and Emma Houlihan have also participated in the Aughty public art commission, curated by Dr Áine Phillips, Burren College of Art head of sculpture.

Poulnabrone bouncy dolmen will be on show at Kylebrack woods from 4.30pm to 6.30pm today.

It will also be at Portumna Castle as part of the Shorelines Arts Festival on September 19th.