About Spirit of Place-Inishturk-County Mayo-Ireland 2013

16 American architecture students from The Catholic University of America, and other American universities constructed an architectural installation/cultural legacy marker entitled The Tale of the Tongs on Inishturk in County Mayo from June 10-20, 2013.  

As part of The Gathering Ireland  2013, the project commemorates those families who have resided on Inishturk for generations, those that inhabited the island for over 6000 years, as well as those who emigrated from Inishturk, and Ireland generally, and those who have returned for The Gathering.  

The Tale of the Tongs evokes the centuries of cultural gatherings on Inishturk as a shrine, a respite, a view point, and rest point.   It functions as a spiritual and cultural center of gravity - a locus - for the gathering spirit of the global Irish diaspora.  It is a place which unites the Druidic and the Christian traditions in the shadow of Croagh Patrick, the ancient pilgrimage route of Saint Patrick.  It is a place to re-connect and to re-kindle Irish heritage:  the fires, the hearth, and the 'tongs of reunion'.  All this is conveyed in a modern language of design.

The installation was constructed by students alongside local craftsmen, with local stone, as well as glass and stainless steel, in both traditional and modern building methods.  It is hoped that the project will build public awareness and support for the ongoing conservation, eco-tourism and economic development underway on Inishturk Island with the support of Mayo County Council.

In addition to the installation, designed during the spring semester 2013, architecture students in a related studio developed hypothetical designs for an ecologically-sustainable fish farm far off the coast of Inishturk, to provide economic development and employment opportunities for the area, in the same spirit as the built installation.  These designs were presented and exhibited at the Inishturk Community Center as part of the opening festivities on June 21st, 2013.

The 2013 SPSD project was led in conjunction with the National Geographic Society as part of 'The Gathering Ireland 2013 in collaboration with the Mayo County Council.  The Gathering Ireland  2013 is being supported by Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland. It the biggest tourism initiative ever staged in Ireland.   

About Inishturk
Inishturk, which translates as 'Island of the Wild Boar' is a mystical island located 14.5km off the west coast of Mayo, between the islands of Inishbofin and Clare. This tranquil Island sits atop cliffs and steep hills that drop dramatically to the Atlantic. Inishturk is only 5km by 2.5km in size and yet it is rich in archaeological sites, and has been inhabited on and off since 4000 B.C.

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