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A Magic, Moving, Living Thing is an artist-led project at Butler Gallery that aims to build communities and connections around the River Nore, through collaborative art work and knowledge exchange between citizens, artists and experts.

with Artist Mary Conroy

The River Nore has been an essential influence in the development of Kilkenny since the time of St Canice himself, some 1400 years ago. For millennia it has functioned as an artery for the movement of humans and other natural ecological populations. Its energy has been harnessed for centuries to turn millstones for industry and aid with the import and export of goods from the city by the merchant classes. It has given the everyday people of Kilkenny a constant source of freshwater for drinking, bathing, fishing, and farming. Without the River Nore there would be no Kilkenny City.

The course and form of the River has been modified to suit the changing populations for centuries. The aim of this project is to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the River Nore as a living entity and create a long-lasting relationship between the human and non-human communities that live, or have lived, with this river since the first charter of Kilkenny granted in 1207.

What will the River tell us? Together, we will explore our shared human and more-than-human histories, the current health of the river, and we will consider our future together.



5th June
Medicine and Art on the River Nore

Join herbalist, forest school practitioner and eco-activist Maura Brennan for a medicinal tour of the River Nore, followed by an eco-printing workshop at the Butler Gallery Learning Centre with artist Mary Conroy, using plants sustainably gathered on our morning walk.

9th June
Mussel talk and Mussel making
Join Environmental Scientist, and one of Ireland's leading Mussel experts, Dr. Evelyn Moorkens, and artist Mary Conroy to learn about mussel species in the River Nore and their role in the healthy ecosystem of the river. We will be making ceramic mussels to become part of a collaborative art installation at Butler Gallery in August and September, while we watch freshwater mussels species filter and clean river water in live tanks at our workshop space. Evelyn will share her knowledge of river ecology through the fascinating life of the threatened species Margaritifera Durrowvensis, the only such species living in the calciferous environment of the River Nore.

2nd-5th August - Drop in Event
Visit the Learning Centre at Butler Gallery 10am-5pm (excluding lunch) to see the research we have been collectively gathering on the ecology of the River Nore, and make ceramic mussels with Mary Conroy - leading to a large scale collaborative art installation.

4th September, 11:30am - 1:30pm
Kayak and mindfulness on the Nore

Join yoga instructor Gráinne Murphy and Kilkenny Aqua Canoe Club for a special event as part of the Magic, Moving, Living Thing Project. We will take a short paddle along the river Nore and spend some time exploring our presence on the river and our senses, to experience a unique, fun and mindful practice. This guided practice will help participants to connect with the river on both a physical and sensory level, to enhance our understanding of it as a magic, moving, living entity.

8th September 1pm
'An ancient moving, living thing’: The Archaeology of Kilkenny’s River Nore with Cóilín Ó Drisceoil
Archaeologist Cóilín Ó Drisceoil will share his extensive knowledge of the intertwined history of people, land and river in Kilkenny as evidenced by the archaeological record of the city.


About the Artist
Mary Conroy lives and works in Limerick and Kilkenny, Ireland. She is a cross-disciplinary artist who graduated with a BA in Ceramics (2004) and an MA in Social Practice and the Creative Environment (2011) from Limerick School of Art and Design. She works in the medium of clay, ceramics, and mixed media sculpture within social practice. Her work investigates humans’ situation within the more-than-human world through socially engaged practice including participation and intervention.

This project is funded by the St. Patrick's Festival Ireland TikTok Creative Fund

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