Monday, September 13, 2010

Liffeytown 19

Today's the day! Eight months of planning over, it's time to finally make this project sing! It's a beautiful day, sunny and bright and I couldn't be happier. I pick up Matt in Maynooth at 730am and race back to Ringsend Yacht Club to meet Ger and the rest of the team. We load all the houses out from the lock-up and line them all up in the car park.

The boys set to work installing the lighting unit to the base of each house before re-attaching the main house structure with bolts and silicone.

I pull off all the protective plastic layers and set to washing all the houses down. Next, 44 concrete blocks need to be lugged across the car park and loaded onto boats. We have a bit of a panic when it seems one of the LED strips isn't working but a few minutes later it kicks in miraculously. Maggie and her camera crew from 'Imeall', the TG4 arts programme arrive, they're going to film as much of the install as possible. Philip from RTE is also going to film a piece for the 9 o'clock news. However once both camera crews have arrived I have to leave, we're off on Fran's boat to drop anchors at the Ha'penny Bridge. Fran and John both have a boat and are taking charge of mooring the houses in location. I begin to relax once the anchors are in place, everything feels possible and it seems like we just might do it.

Back in Ringsend the race has started to get the houses up-river before high tide, we have about an hour and a half to do it otherwise we won't fit under the bridges. Seven houses are tied together in a line and towed by Fran's boat. The rest of us pile into John's boat with the remaining three houses straddled behind. The going is slow and it takes half an hour just to get to the new Samuel Beckett Bridge. As we pass through each subsequent bridge I feel increasingly optimistic. One of the houses however becomes temporarily stuck under Custom House Bridge but we manage to free it using the second boat. Lots of bemused looking pedestrians line the quays.

We all raise a huge cheer as we finally pass through O'Connell Bridge and reach the stretch of river where we're mooring the houses.

Now comes the hard part, each house has to be unattached from the others and positioned in it's respective location. This takes hours but finally "Liffeytown' begins to take shape. Several press photographers arrive and start recording the install. When all the houses are in place I climb up a ladder on the quay wall and race up to the Ha'penny Bridge to see how it looks. I'm pretty gobsmacked, it's far better than I expected, the challenge was to make the houses look better than the mock-up image and I reckon we have succeeded. I call down to the boats and ask them to move a few houses slightly, I can't believe how good it's looking.

A half an hour later and we are back in dry land in Ringsend, it's been a huge effort all around and we're all pretty exhausted. That night a crowd of us gather at 8pm to watch the lights come on in the houses, one by one they fire up until 10 of the 11 houses are glowing serenely on the river. We all begin to worry about the last one until ten minutes laterit decides to join in the fun. Job done, we are all thrilled!!

To cap off a perfect day the Irish TV station RTE 1 ran the story on 'Liffeytown' on the news that night.

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