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Island City: Cork’s Urban Sculpture Trail

Unique trail of five sculptures launched in Cork City

A new contemporary sculpture trail was installed throughout the city centre island over the past 6 months. The ambitious project, which has been two years in the making and which will run for 5 years, is the biggest single investment in public art in the city. 

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. 

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. 

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 or follow @IslandCityCorkSculpture on Instagram.

Click on the map below to download the PDF brochure

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