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The Dog on the Dockside

The late Síoda. Photo credit Jack Shanahan.

A street artist whose work has appeared across Dublin – including graffiti-filled Liberty Lane off Kevin Street – has won new accolades for his latest mural of the President’s dead dog. 

The mural, on the banks of the river Dodder in Ringsend, is in memory of the late Síoda, one of two of the beloved Bernese Mountain dogs owned by President Michael D Higgins. The dog sadly passed away after a short illness in September.  

The mural shows Síoda in a unique style reminiscent of stained-glass saints you would find in a church. Síoda is given a crown harkening back to Saint Patrick with the words “Naomh Síoda, Madra na Éireann” or “Saint Síoda, dog of Ireland”. 

“The Irish language is a big thing for me,” the artist told The Liberty. The painter, who goes by the alias HIghkingJack, asked that his real name not be used.  

The love of the language, says the anonymous UCD student, is “something that really came from college. because in secondary school it was one of those things where everyone didn’t really understand why we were doing it.  

“Then I went to UCD and a few people in my course were first-language Irish speakers,” he says.  

 HighkingJack also carries the stained-glass aesthetic throughout his portfolio. This can be seen on his Instagram, HighkingJack – where he publishes most of his art and he recently just got his first commission through the publicity stirred up there.  

“I suppose I’ve looked at stained glass and tried to put it into a modern style so instead of Irish saints and I thought it would be nice to see modern scenes of Dublin and urban life,” he says. “I find stained glass to be quite nice looking.“  

HighkingJack has work in Adamstown, Liberty Lane and Monkstown, making use of the designated street art locations along the way. His other pieces also reflect his distinct style.  

He enjoyed the publicity around his dog mural. “That piece was a bit of a spur of the moment piece and there’s no guarantee I’ll have any journalists calling me up again.  

“I have a few pieces I’d like to get done but I don’t want to get my hopes up too much.  

“I just want to continue to depict scenes we all recognise and can relate to and continue to spray-paint. The dream is to get some commissions out of it anyway.” 

The Síoda mural in on a designated wall for street art, one of a few in the surrounding area. As such the mural will stay up. The only threat to it is other artists defacing or painting over it.  You can find the artist’s instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/highkingjack/  

Jack Shanahan

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