Exhibition celebrates people carrying rocks from Tallaght to top of Glenasmole

By William O'Connor

“The exhibition is a celebration of the collective achievement of the 400 people who came out over a year to carry rocks from Tallaght to the top of Glenasmole,” explains Rock To The Top artistic director Ciaran Taylor.

Inspired by the feat of Oisín, back from Tír na nÓg, who threw a boulder up the valley near Tallaght with one hand, Rock to the Top challenged the people of South Dublin to recreate this mythic feat by bringing a boulder up to the mountains, by hand, over the course of a year.

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Between June 2017 and June 2018 over four hundred people helped to carry a granite boulder on foot from Rua Red in Tallaght, to build a cairn at the top of Glenasmole valley 12 kilometres away.  

Each monthly walk featured a performance or event linked to the place and the seasons.

The exhibition gives a flavour of the journeys over four seasons between the city and mountains.

On each walk, led by Ciarán Taylor, participants met with local experts, musicians, storytellers and farmers, taking part in small events to mark the seasons.  

Throughout the year walkers learnt about the plants and trees along the way, ate locally grown produce and, on one walk, were even given onions from the mountains to plant at home.

Animals also had their place as part of the walks, from learning about the return of the native red squirrel and how birds of prey might use the cairn in future, to farmer Donie Anderson’s sheepdog Jess joining in with local songs and encounters with the descendants of Oisín's white horse.  

“When I brought the boulder down from Glenasmole and placed it outside Rua Red in June 2017 I didn't know if people would join in to help carry it,” said Ciaran Taylor.

“I even calculated how many 22 km round trips I’d have to make each week to carry the whole boulder up myself, but people immediately got it, and started coming out to help and the numbers built up as the year went on.

“Rock to the Top was about taking time to walk and talk together over four seasons, getting to know the place we live in better, about connecting into the history of cairn building in Glenasmole which goes back over 4,000 year and the ancient mythology of this place through the story of Oisín.

"The project now belongs to the people of South Dublin who are still walking the route and showing it to others.

“Special thanks is due to the Dublin Mountains Partnership Volunteer Rangers who accompanied all of the walks, and to Rua Red who hosted the boulder and now the exhibition.

“Thanks to the ‘In Context 4’ South Dublin County public art programme who backed the idea and commissioned the project.” 

The Rock to the Top Photo Exhibition by Ciarán Taylor, exhibition photography by Felipe Jóia takes place in Rua Red until October 20.

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