A JOURNEY FROM UNSIGHTLY TO UNESCO - 'Connect Magazine' The American Ireland Funds

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An article of support from The American Ireland Funds published in their Fall edition of "Connect", their magazine which they send to thousands of philanthropists in a dozen countries world wide. 

CONNECT magazine writes about The Icon Factory & The Icon Walk:

"When tourists come to Dublin, many make their way to the bustling Temple bar area. The main thoroughfare of Fleet Street is chock full of shops, public houses, hostels and restaurants. But pedestrian traffic is being drawn down previously-avoided alleyways parallel to Fleet Street. The Icon Factory, an artists' co-operative run entirely by volunteers, has turned those alleyways of Aston Place, Bedford Lane and Price's Lane into The Icon Walk, a permanent art installation that celebrates iconic figures of Irish music, art, sport and culture.

Over the course of a few short years, the artistic transformation of these once-neglected side streets is changing the neigborhood. A cultural history of Ireland can now be seen on the walls of these alleys. Although the small organisation struggles financially, The Icon Walk has received the coveted endorsement by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) for being "an important site for the celebration of Irish literary talent and culture."


It was writer/historian Barney Phair who had a vision for this gritty area. He believed that art was the key to changing the landscape and educating both tourists and Dubliners alike. It is his insightful and often humorous commentary that now hangs alongside the 70+ works of art grouped in categories ranging from "The Playwrights" to "Great Moments in Irish Rock" and "The Wall of Irish Sport." Barney is passionate as he speaks of the art and artists who worked so hard to establish and maintain.

"I believed from the beginning that art could civilise this corner. We cleaned it up both literally and figuratively," says Barney. "The American Ireland Funds believed that too and they provided the very first funds we ever received."

Now, enormous panels depict cultural icons as diverse as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and the Pogues. Becaue over thirty artists were involved in the creation of the Icon Walk, the artistic styles are as diverse as the characters they portray. The Icon Factory also has a small storefront where visitors can take home images of The Icon Walk in the form of t-shirts, coasters and other mementos. The storefront is an informal gathering place for artists and their supporters and also serves as a gallery where artists can display their works for free. Now, tourists, school children and college groups can turn off Fleet Street to look up at the faces and stories of Ireland's cultural treasures. Other cities are looking to replicate Icon Walks of their own and Dublin can be proud of this new cultural highlight supported by The American Ireland Funds."

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