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Face lift for Belmullet handball alley

The iconic handball alley in the town park in Belmullet, Co Mayo has been given a face lift.

A magnificent mural depicting local flora and fauna by visual artist James Kirwan now adorns the building.

The impressive mural is titled ‘Dúlra agus Dúchas’ and features beautiful references to the unique heritage and biodiversity aspects of the Erris region, including some of the endangered species that reside in, or frequently visit, the Mullet Peninsula.

The mural includes a lapwing, a corncrake, nettles, machair, the old church and the great yellow bumblebee.

Eva Reilly, joint treasurer of Baile Slachtmhar Bhéal an Mhuirthead (Belmullet Tidy Towns), told the Connaught Telegraph: “We are delighted with this strong message of biodiversity in the heart of the town. Biodiversity has been such a key part of our work for many years and we wanted the mural to reflect the importance of valuing and respecting our environment and our heritage.

“Our ambition to use the ball alley for a mural goes back to 2019 and it has taken a lot of time and effort to get to this point, with cleaning and whitewashing projects, etcetera.”

A handball alley for Belmullet was first mooted as far back as the early 1950s when a committee was set up; another committee was formed to further the project in 1960 and the work was finally completed in 1969.

There are a number of unique and picturesque courts in the general region including the famous court at Cashel on Achill Island, which also features a beautiful mural, the renovated court at Kiltimagh, Swinford outdoor alley and Cully on the Mayo-Sligo border which may be the most pristine outdoor three-wall handball alley in the country.

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Outdoor handball was given a boost during the Covid pandemic with the running of GAA Handball's Summer Series. Could other old outdoor handball courts, some of which have become eye sores, be restored and renovated?

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