New mural in Cork celebrates 50 years of Down Syndrome Ireland

The 10ft vibrant piece spans the front of Cork City Library and features three people of different ages with Down syndrome. 
New mural in Cork celebrates 50 years of Down Syndrome Ireland

Pictured is Harry Brassel from Cork city by his portrait, part of The Upside Mural at Cork City Library marking Down Syndrome Ireland’s 50th Anniversary. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision 

"Everyone can do a little bit to make Ireland a little bit more of an inclusive society."

So said the CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland, Barry Sheridan speaking at the unveiling of a new mural today on Grand Parade to mark Down Syndrome Ireland’s 50th anniversary and drive awareness.

The 10ft vibrant piece spans the front of Cork City Library and features three people of different ages with Down Syndrome. 

Pictured is John Sweetnam by his portrait with his mother Hazel at The Upside Mural at Cork City Library marking Down Syndrome Ireland’s 50th Anniversary. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision 
Pictured is John Sweetnam by his portrait with his mother Hazel at The Upside Mural at Cork City Library marking Down Syndrome Ireland’s 50th Anniversary. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision 

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and the new mural is part of the charity’s Upside campaign.

"It’s about seeing people with Down Syndrome just as people. 

"Let them have their voice, let them be seen, and let’s celebrate that but also realise, to be truly inclusive, we all have to work on that," Mr Sheridan told The Echo.

"We’ve come an awful long way but we’ve still a long way to go."

The mural, which took a month to complete, was created by artist Paul La Rocque who works out of Cork Printmakers.

Pictured at Cork City Library is Patricia Looney; artist Paul La Rocque; Cork's Lord Mayor Colm Kelleher; Ray O'Callaghan DSI and David O'Brien of Cork City Library at the launch of The Upside Mural marking Down Syndrome IrelandÕs 50th Anniversary. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Pictured at Cork City Library is Patricia Looney; artist Paul La Rocque; Cork's Lord Mayor Colm Kelleher; Ray O'Callaghan DSI and David O'Brien of Cork City Library at the launch of The Upside Mural marking Down Syndrome IrelandÕs 50th Anniversary. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

He hopes the piece will be a "conversation starter" in promoting inclusivity. 

"I created the mural entirely on my computer, using photographs of the three people that are in the mural, John, Lily and Harry," he said, speaking about the piece.

"The idea was to turn everything upside down so I put the grass on the top and the sky on the lower level because it’s to celebrate the Upside campaign Down Syndrome Ireland are doing at the moment."

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence Simon Coveney and the Lord Mayor of Cork were in attendance to officially launch the new mural, which is expected to remain in situ for a number of weeks.

Pictured is four-year-old Harry Brassel and mother Orla, from Cork city by his portrait, part of The Upside Mural at Cork City Library marking Down Syndrome Ireland's 50th Anniversary.
Pictured is four-year-old Harry Brassel and mother Orla, from Cork city by his portrait, part of The Upside Mural at Cork City Library marking Down Syndrome Ireland's 50th Anniversary.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Coveney said that while supports for people with Down Syndrome have "improved immeasurably" over the years, there is still a way to go.

"We’re still on a journey to make sure that regardless of what your ability is in life that you get the supports through the State and through your family and through education systems and so on to be able to fulfil your potential fully and so many people are now doing that and we need to make sure that no one is left behind," he said.

"This [mural] is a reminder of the progress we’ve made but also a motivator for the work we still need to do."

Pictured Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Colm Kelleher; John Sweetnam who celebrated his 51st birthday with Minister Simon Coveney by John's portrait, part of The Upside Mural at Cork City Library marking Down Syndrome Ireland's 50th Anniversary. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Pictured Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Colm Kelleher; John Sweetnam who celebrated his 51st birthday with Minister Simon Coveney by John's portrait, part of The Upside Mural at Cork City Library marking Down Syndrome Ireland's 50th Anniversary. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Colm Kelleher said he was delighted to be in attendance at the launch of the new mural.

"This is the second mural. There’s one in Dublin and they’re hoping to do another one in Limerick. 

"The more the merrier across the country to raise awareness," he said.

The artwork features John Sweetman from Glanmire who celebrates his 51st birthday today, Harry Brassel (4) from Douglas and 13-year-old Lily Atkinson from Ballintemple. 

Harry's mum Orla, who is behind the popular Instagram page, 'At Home with Harry', said it was a "great day for the Down Syndrome community".

"It’s amazing to get this expose and to shine a light on the community for Down Syndrome Awareness month."

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