Unique trail of five sculptures launched in Cork City 

Island City -Cork’s Urban Sculpture Trail 

A new contemporary sculpture trail throughout Cork City – Island City, Cork’s Urban Sculpture Trail – was officially launched yesterday (12/12/’23) evening by the Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy.

This unique cultural trail of five public artworks was installed throughout the city centre island over the past 6 months, with the final installation going live later this week. The ambitious project, which has been two years in the making, is the biggest single investment in public art in the city.  The Cork City Council initiative was funded by Fáilte Ireland under the Urban Animation Investment Scheme with commissioning support from the National Sculpture Factory.

The temporary artworks, which will be in situ for the next five years, are located on Carey’s Lane, Cook Street, the Exchange Building on the intersection of Princes Street and Oliver Plunkett St, Cornmarket Street (Coal Quay), and Triskel Christchurch.

Intended to illuminate Cork City’s unique heritage in an arresting, intriguing and playful way, the project is reinvigorating and reimagining public spaces for locals and visitors alike, creating points of interest for people to connect with the city centre. It includes prehistoric artefacts brought to life in 3D, a large crafted table where people can eat, play and socialise, a lane-length overhead sculptural piece that responds to the shifting shape of the city, an art nouveau crafted lamp-post that  encourages people to look up and explore the architecture as they navigate through the city, and a light installation that highlights stories of Cork’s past, present, and sustainable future.


Cork City Council and Fáilte Ireland are hoping that the sculptures will encourage locals and visitors alike to pause as they walk through the city, look up and appreciate the beauty, character and heritage of the city’s streets.


The five artworks include:

  1. Sentinels [flew through the ages in the shape of birds] on Carey’s Lane 
    By Niamh McCann
     Sentinels is a lane-length sculptural piece, influenced by the architecture, geography, and migratory history of the street, a nod to the old and the new. The work, which is made with sustainable materials, is fixed above head height and held by the simple image of a seagull, perched atop a neon strip, sentinel-like. Intriguing and playful, the work animates the lane and responds to the shifting shape of the city.
  2. Boom Nouveau on Cook Street
    By Forerunner
    Boom Nouveau mimics the form of a tangible everyday urban street feature – the lamppost. The name refers to the rupture of the artwork emerging from the ground, with a nod to the influence of the craftsmanship of art nouveau.  Created using historic methods of production with familiar building materials alongside hand-blown glass and cast bronze, the sculpture shines a light on the city and encourages people to look up and explore the architecture as they navigate through the city.
  3. The Face Cup at The Exchange Building,  Princes Street/Oliver Plunkett St. 
    By Fiona Mulholland
    The Face Cup is a celebration of Cork’s rich prehistoric heritage.  An artwork of large-scale sculptural reliefs, it is based on a collection of exceptional Bronze Age ceramic artifacts circa 3800 years old that were excavated by Cork archaeologists.  A museum for an outdoor space, it also pays testament to the rich history and hospitality of the building and area. The artwork is handmade in styrofoam and fibreglass and painted in a gold effect.
  4. Urban Mirror on Cornmarket Street (Coal Quay)
    By plattenbaustudio.
    Urban Mirror is a beautifully crafted large table with an atmospheric globe light that provides a sculptural pavilion in a cultural corner of the city centre and a warming glow when the sun sets. A space intended to be used by the public to talk, eat, play and interact, it was inspired by the street’s vibrant history as a market-place. Made of durable and playful stainless steel, the freeform table can seat up to 50 people.
  5. Tempus Futurum at Triskel Christchurch
    By Brian Kenny
    Tempus Futurum” is a unique light installation on Triskel Christchurch that illuminates the stories of Cork’s past, present, and sustainable future. It echoes the adage: “A society thrives when elders plant trees under whose shade they’ll never rest.” Scenes link human actions to nature’s fate, while 50 children envision the building’s future, sparking hope. The interactive finale reflects sustainability, showcasing the link between human choices and nature’s balance. It’s a reflection on the city’s growth, urging consideration of today’s impact on tomorrow’s landscapes.

Commenting at the launch, Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Kieran McCarthy, said, “I am delighted that this week we will see the completion of Island City – Cork’s Urban Sculpture Trail – the most ambitious arts project we have undertaken at Cork City Council and the single biggest investment in public art our city has ever seen.   I was delighted to meet all of the inspiring artists and architects at their individual unveilings over the past few months, and to hear the incredible process, detail and love that has gone into each installation. This has been an exceptional project for all, bringing art to the streets of Cork and enriching our urban environment and its heritage and history.  In fact, it is a testament to the resilience and creativity of our cultural sector.  We believe this initiative will deepen the city’s connection with public art and encourage locals and visitors to explore new areas of the city as art comes to life on our streets.  We really hope that people enjoy the trail, which will be in situ for the next five years.   Cork City Council would like to sincerely thank our partners Fáilte Ireland, who funded the project under the Urban Animation Scheme, and the National Sculpture Factory for commission support.”

Director of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland, Orla Carroll said: “We’re so pleased to see the launch of the fantastic ‘Island City’ trail today. Animating urban areas is essential to transforming and re-imagining our public spaces as safe, welcoming and vibrant places to visit. Cork is an important part of Ireland’s Ancient East and has huge potential to attract domestic and international visitors. Fáilte Ireland’s ongoing work in partnership with Cork City Council focuses on developing new and unique reasons for people to visit Cork, and ‘Island City’ is a perfect example of this. Experiences like this trail will encourage visitors to stay longer, spend more and immerse themselves in Cork’s strong heritage, unique culture and thriving food offering.”

Michelle Carew, Arts Officer, Cork City Council, said, “Our ambition is to create a city for artists, a creative city. In commissioning these artworks, we underwent a robust, competitive process with an expert national and international panel in art and architecture, supported by the National Sculpture Factory.  It has been an inspiring and rewarding experience to work with the commissioned artists throughout this process and we are very grateful to Fáilte Ireland for their financial support to bring this public art into the everyday life and heart of the city.”

To learn more about Island City, find out how you can follow the trail, and to view short documentaries on the making of each of the five artworks, go to www.corkcity.ie/islandcity or follow @IslandCityCorkSculpture on Instagram.


C/O The Events, Tourism & Communications Agency