As an outcome from Fingal Arts Office's Resort Revelations residency at Lynders Mobile Home Park and in association with the Bleeding Pig Festival, artist Gareth Kennedy proposed the creation of a speculative and explorative tradition for Portrane in North County Dublin.
Over the first week in September 2015, following the cutting of the barley at the Chinkwell Field in Portrane, the freshly baled straw was used to build a temporary straw bale tower to join the existing evocative Portrane skyline which includes a revival roundtower from the 1840's, a water tower, the red towers of St. Ita's and two Martello Towers. This was a 'folk folly' of sorts - to mark both harvest (something many of us have lost touch with outside the farming community) and also the close of the holiday season in Portrane. It was a speculative, process based build - the use and meaning of the tower having being left open to discussion over the course of the festival.
The tower was built by master craftsman Eoin Donnelly as project mentor and a small focused team with help from members of the local community. It manifested as a 'meitheal', (collective work) echoing the pre-industrial work that would have traditionally taken place in the fields around this time of year.
Alongside the erection of the tower, a series of talks, screenings and workshops were held including Mummer mask and costume making workshops with Irish Straw Crafts. The tower inaugeration was also humourously usurped by the Fingal Mummers Group. There was once a tradition of mumming in Portrane but this has been lost. This tradition and the potential for its future revival and re-articulation in the 21st century was explored over the course of the workshops and festival.