Four new murals launched at Harbour Park

Four new murals, including one featuring the iconic Rush pirate Jack the Bachelor, were officially launched yesterday at the Harbour Park.

Designed and painted by artist Trish Traynor, the murals were commissioned by Rush Tidy Towns.

Mayor of Fingal, Councillor Seána Ó Rodaigh, and staff from Fingal County Council were also in attendance.

Speaking about the murals and her experience of painting them, Trish said:

I was asked to paint Jack the Bachelor (real name Jack Connor) by Rush Tidy Towns because although there were a few pirates living here, like Luke Ryan from Kenure, Jack was the most popular. The reason being was he looked after the poor people of Rush, giving a lot of his wealth to the less fortunate. He was the Robin Hood of his time and therefore no-one would give him up to the authorities. Everyone had his back.

“He was born in Wexford in 1736 and lived in Rush. There’s even a cottage up the road named after him. He was buried in Kenure Cemetery and he named his ship ‘The Royal Oak’, which was the original name of the Harbour Bar. So there are a lot of connections around the town to Jack.

“He would smuggle brandy (among other things) in from France in small barrels that were made specifically for this reason, up along side Hackett’s Butchers.

“Jack would come in to the beaches so as not to be caught by the Customs House on the pier and he would hide his goods in the caves.

He would do everything by the light of the moon and when the water was choppy, so it was unlikely he’d meet any other boats. Then, anyone in the know would get their barrel made and go down the beach where Jack’s ship would arrive in. They’d fill up their barrel and then quickly disperse into the night. It was a well-kept secret among the people of Rush and one the authorities were completely unaware of.

“No-one really knows what Jack looked like as there are no real pictures of him, so I painted my idea of what he might have looked like from what we know of him. When people think of a pirate they think of an old man with a beard, maybe an eye patch and a parrot on his shoulder. But Jack was born in the 1700s when they didn’t wear beards and they wore the short wigs with the pony tails. He also died aged 37 from a brain hemorrhage, so he would have been a young man when he was doing the smuggling. He was also a bit of a lady’s man and a bit of charmer and liked to hang out in the rich social circles, so I put him in the well-to-do dress of the time.

“Finally I have him tipping his cap to everyone because he had a great love and respect for the people of Rush and vice versa.

“Just on another note, in relation to the underwater scenes, I have painted a ray fish right out in front and there is an historical reason for this. Although we don’t get many ray fish in these waters now, it was a very common fish back in the day when there was a fishing fleet in Rush. The fishermen used to sell their cod and herring, etc but they couldn’t sell the ray fish so they used to eat it. It became known as the fish of the Rush people because if you were seen eating a ray, people knew you were from Rush. Also, whenever anyone took a photograph of the Rush fishermen, they would hold up a ray fish as an in-joke to say ‘we are the Rush fishermen’. Because of this a lot of locals asked me to paint the ray fish in the mural and I happily obliged!”