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‘Unauthorized’ Mural Roils Dublin Vote

Friday, April 24, 2015

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DUBLIN—A giant, apparently unpermitted, public mural of two men embracing has stoked the fire raging around Ireland's upcoming marriage equality referendum.

“The Claddagh Embrace” has sparked widespread debate since it first appeared April 12 in the city's center. Ireland is gearing up to vote next month on the referendum to allow same-sex marriage.

The City Council says the mural, created by artist Joe Caslin, is “unauthorized and constitutes a breach of the planning act,” local councilor Mannix Flynn told The Irish Times Tuesday (April 21).

Planning officials reportedly sent Caslin a “warning notice” about the work.

The city has received numerous complaints taking issue with the mural's "Vote Yes" message, and the mural was egged by vandals shortly after installation, reports say.

Jamie D. via

“The Claddagh Embrace” appeared April 12, a month before Ireland votes on marriage equality.

If the referendum passes, the Republic’s constitution would be amended to include a new section reading: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex,” according to the Department of Justice and Equality.

Mural’s Fate Unknown

Flynn told The Irish Times that regardless of the image’s quality or message, regulations must be enforced.

“It’s the equivalent of having an ad on the building” that hasn't been authorized, he said.

There is an option for Caslin to apply for retention, Flynn noted.

However, a decision on the mural’s fate could take as long as three months because of due process, according to Flynn.

That may work out fine for Caslin, who said he would like to see the piece remain until the marriage equality vote on May 22 and possibly after, The Irish Times reported.

Supporters Launch Petition

A petition has been set up on, urging the City Council to keep the mural.

It reads, in part: “The building owners have given consent for the mural to be placed there, there was no building, simply a paper mural being erected on the side of a building, this should not be a planning matter as many buildings in the area also dawn murals.”

The petition had more than 31,000 signatures as of Thursday (April 23) morning.

‘Just about Love’

Caslin recently told The Herald his inspiration behind the piece.

The Meeting on the Turret Stairs
"The Meeting on the Turret Stairs" (1863)

"The Embrace" is based on Frederic William Burton’s famous “The Meeting on the Turret Stairs” (1863). It shows a princess and her bodyguard, who fall in love but aren’t allowed to marry.

The artwork is based on Frederic William Burton’s famous painting, “The Meeting on the Turret Stairs” (1863), depicting a princess and her bodyguard who fall in love but aren’t allowed to marry, he said.

“Here we are 1,000 years later, and we’re still talking about a higher power who can prevent that union taking place, and that’s the core thing—it’s just about love,” Caslin told the news bureau.

The artist did not respond Wednesday (April 22) to a request for comment.

Another Mural, Another Protest

Caslin is not the only artist putting his mural where his mouth is on next month's referendum.

Twitter / @WillStLeger

Installed only about a week ago in Dublin, this mural has been vandalized twice.

Artist Will St. Leger has started a "Walls Equality" project to urge businesses to support street art in favor of the measure. St. Leger also secured permission for artist Jess Tobin to paint a mural outside The Bernard Shaw pub that shows one woman kissing another.

The mural, carrying a "Vote Yes" message, has been defaced twice by spray paint, The Independent reports.


Tagged categories: Artists; Building codes; Color + Design; Designers; Enforcement; Europe; Government; Murals; Regulations; Urban Planning

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