Final bell sounds for ‘boxing ballerinas’ in Sandycove after months of scrutiny

Mural that had become a Sandycove landmark painted over as owner claims local authority ‘power-grab over public art’

A mural on the front of a south Dublin house has been removed by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, months after it was ordered to be covered.

The artwork, featuring two boxing ballerinas, was a feature of marketing agency executive Cathy McGovern’s house in Sandycove, and became a popular photo spot for locals and passers-by.

The mural was painted by the artist Solus, known for his street art around the world, and depicted two ballerinas wearing boxing gloves. It included tributes to Ms McGovern’s children and Olympic medal-winning athlete Kelly Harrington. The artist has since recreated the mural on Sheriff Street Lower, in collaboration with urban developer Ballymore.

The order to remove the mural originally came from the local council in February.


In May, Ms McGovern appealed the order to An Bord Pleanála, stating in her appeal that “it is clear from the overwhelming local and national public support and approval… that it is considered as a positive addition to the area”.

In their rejection of the appeal, An Bord Pleanála listed reasons including that the artwork was distracting from road signage, was depreciating local property values and was incongruous given the historic building’s general character. It said the mural “has an overly prominent and seriously negative impact on the visual amenities and character” of the surrounding area.

On Wednesday Ms McGovern said she felt “a sense of failure” after her battle to retain the mural had come to nothing.

“It’s a power-grab over public art. The legislation could’ve just as easily been interpreted to keep it, but the council chose instead to try to control local art,” she said.

“They are not making any assessment on the merit of the art… If Michelangelo got up from the grave and painted on my house in the morning, they could copy and paste the same justification for taking it down.

“They will not assess the value of the art… something is fundamentally wrong with that system,” she said. “This went through two planning processes and not one person objected, which is practically unheard of.

“It’s not a structural change, it’s paint… the idea that my right to have art on display has been infringed is upsetting.”