Group of artists breathe new life into Cregg CastleAugust 16, 2012 - 8:43am
AGROUP of artists who have taken up residency in Corrandulla’s Cregg Castle, where they are developing an interactive work space, gallery and garden, will hold a group show in the Town Hall Theatre from August 17 to September 5.
This innovative Cregg Castle project is the work of Salthill born artist Alan Murray, who has a family link with the castle, which was built in 1648 by the Kirwan family, one of the Tribes of Galway.
Alan’s grandparents Martin and Margaret Murray bought the castle in 1972, growing vegetables in the walled garden and rearing beef cattle in the adjoining land to supply their well-known hotel in Salthill.
Later, Alan’s aunt and uncle, Ann Marie and Patrick ran a highly regarded B & B in Cregg Castle until the historic building was sold in 2005.
The new owners applied to develop the castle and its grounds into hotel and golf course, but the recession put paid to those plans and it was closed up.
When he became aware of this, Alan approached the owners with a business plan which would involve artists’ residencies, exhibitions and events to keep Cregg Castle alive.
“Because of the family connection, they realised I had a genuine interest in it,” he explains of the owners’ reaction.
As a result of a two-year agreement which he signed with them five artists moved into the building in May, following a selection process which saw Alan put a call-out in local papers and on the internet.
There are two Cork artists and one from Monaghan, as well as Alan and another Galwegian, Martina Finn from Loughrea.
“The arrangement is that we keep the castle maintained while we are here and other than that, it’s what we choose to do ourselves,” he says.
Each artist pays a nominal rent of between €100 and €120 and also does general maintenance work as part of the residency agreement. This includes working in the vegetable garden and cutting firewood to keep the castle heated in winter.
For that, they get to live in a castle, with the use of their own studio space and shared gallery space, as well as a communal kitchen and relaxation area.
The period of residency for each artist may last for the full two years or may end sooner, depending on each person’s situation.
There are another four spaces to fill in the residency project and Alan is working on that at present, so there will be a total of nine artists living in Cregg Castle when the scheme is fully up and running.
This is the first group exhibition from the five who are looking forward to a wonderful and inspiring future in their ambitious venture at Cregg Castle.
They have extended an open invite to the public to the exhibition opening at Galway’s Town Hall Theatre on Friday next, August 17 at 6pm.
Meanwhile, the castle is open to the public from Thursday to Sunday each week.