So, starting from the beginning how did a photograph of James and Barry end up on the side of Rick’s Burgers?
“It was all a pretty quick process,” explains James. “From the time we were asked to take part in the project to it actually being erected was only something like a month or so. Colm O’Corrigan was styling the shoot and asked Barry and someone else originally, but the other guy couldn’t do it, so that’s where I came in. We met at a studio a week or so later where Sean Jackson photographed us and then after that the main man behind it all, Joe Caslin, started to do his sketches.”
Joe Caslin is originally from Roscommon and is, coincidently, a friend of James’ sister so James was aware of his style prior to being approached.
“His previous work had dealt with young men and mental health so I guess it was a natural progression to do a piece for the Marriage Equality Campaign.”
The mural is officially titled ‘The Claddagh Embrace’ and Barry supplied the back story to this.
“I don’t think the title of the mural came until after I told Joe the story of my Claddagh ring and how much it meant to me to see it on such a large scale,” says Barry. “My father sadly passed away last year after a short battle with cancer and his Claddagh ring, that my mum bought for him twenty-six years ago, was passed onto me. So it makes me feel like he has had a part to play in all of this, which is really heart-warming.”
In the mural, Barry wears the ring on the middle finger of his right hand. “Showing it to my mum and sister for the first time was pretty special!”
James follows, “It was quite a lovely affirmation to see my family and all of my friends posting about it on their Facebooks.”
The positive reactions didn’t stop at family and friends. On Tuesday 21st April 2015 a warning letter was sent by Dublin City Council to Joe Caslin calling for the removal of the mural. Councillor Mannix Flynn stated to TheJournal.ie that the issue was one of planning permission and was not concerned with the message of the mural.
Yes supporters responded with a petition titled ‘DO NOT REMOVE THE MARRIAGE EQUALITY MURAL!’ At the time of writing this the petition stands at over forty-four thousand signatures.
Unfortunately the letter was not the only concern the mural had to contend with. Made from biodegradable paper, a few days after the warning was issued heavy rain washed away a large section of it.
“I like how it’s going to come to an end naturally rather than because of a court case or something,” says James. “It’s nice to know it’s soon going to be gone in a good way and hopefully so should this entire referendum.”
Barry adds, “I think the sentiment it represents won’t be going anywhere soon, that’s the most important thing.”
On Friday 22nd of May 2015 the nation will take to the polling stations to vote to amend the constitution to include the following article:
“Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”