Sporting legends from the Brandywell area have been immortalised in a new mural which will be formally launched today.
The project involved the replacement of a graffiti covered stretch of wall at Lecky Road with portraits of numerous renowned sporting stars, many of whom secured All-Ireland, Olympic, Commonwealth and even world titles.
The work was completed over a period of six months and was funded by the European Union’s Building Relationships in Communities (BRIC) programme in conjunction with local community group, Triax, and the Housing Executive.
It was painted by local artists Paddy Nelis and Gareth Doherty and as well as featuring local sporting heroes, it also includes images of nearby landmarks such as St Columba’s Church, Long Tower, and Lumen Cristi College.
It was commissioned as part of the BRIC programme of reimaging communities and cultivating good relations in areas across the North. Some of those featured in the mural will attend today’s launch alongside the relatives of sporting heroes from the past.
Speaking ahead of today’s launch, Colm Barton from the TRIAX Neighbourhood Management Team, said the project has attracted a lot of positive local interest and he is hopeful it will be the first of many similar schemes in the area.
“This reimaging project has, first and foremost, enhanced the physical appearance of the area but it has gone well beyond that by capturing the imagination and interest of the local residents,” he said.
Mr Barton also said the local community played a key role in the project.
“Residents played an integral role in deciding who would be featured and what the project would look like and this has helped create a sense of civic pride that makes it all worthwhile.
“The involvement and support of the BRIC programme and the Housing Executive have been invaluable in making this scheme possible. Through it we have been able to create something that will serve as a reminder of the huge input local people have had on the world of sport as well as improving the immediate look of the thoroughfare.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the inspirational work of Brian McMenamim from the Long Tower Youth and Community Centre who has been pivotal in making this project happen.
“The buzz around the project has been incredible and we are already in the process of working with BRIC and the Housing Executive to source further sites for similar projects,” he said.
Kerry McIvor, BRIC Programme Manager, said they were also delighted to have been involved.
“We are thrilled by the hugely positive impact it has had on local residents and the ongoing role it is playing in cultivating and building community spirit in the Brandywell area.
“This artwork is an exciting and eye-catching addition to the Brandywell area and we are hopeful to expand on this work further and build on the community spirit and good relations it has so firmly established here.
“The support of the Housing Executive coupled with the hard work of Paddy Nelis, Gareth Doherty, the local residents and the TRIAX Team have been invaluable in making this project such a huge success,” she said.
Brian McMenamim from the Long Tower Youth and Community centre said: “The contribution of the Brandywell to the world of sport over the years has been incredible and this new mural is a fantastic way to recognise and celebrate that input to so many different sports.”
Eddie Breslin, Housing Executive Community Cohesion Advisor, said: “This project has been a major talking point over the last couple of months and has really captured the interest and attention of so many.
“People are already asking when the next one will be and Housing Executive will be lending our support to make it a reality.
“I would encourage everyone to come and see what will undoubtedly be a legacy piece of art in the city.”
“The Housing Executive is pleased to be associated with the BRIC Programme and the invaluable work it does to help empower local communities to achieve their goals of creating neighbourliness and inclusiveness in all aspects of community life.”