Artists are free to research their own ideas and thematics for artworks and projects. However, in order to inform the Infrastructure commissioning brief from the outset, a county-wide consultation process was carried out by the Arts Office of Fingal County Council in Spring/Summer 2016.

This consultation process comprised of a series of public presentations in Baldoyle Library, Swords Castle, Blanchardstown Library, Balbriggan Library and Rush Library in 2016. An online questionnaire was widely disseminated through the Council’s Public Participation Portal and through Facebook and Twitter. These combined processes elicited helpful direction from the communities in Fingal.


With the continuing growth of its population, the demand for increased provision of high quality social housing in Fingal is extremely high. Providing social housing for those who are unable to provide housing for themselves is one of the highest priorities of the County Council. Whilst Fingal County Council is actively increasing the stock of social housing to meet the long term housing needs of households on the local authority housing list, an applicant can expect to wait several years before the Council can offer a house.

And with the allocation of a new, long-awaited house or apartment comes a spirit of hope, adventure and community-building. This phenomenon presents a unique and meaningful opportunity for an artist to work with people to mark and celebrate this turning point in their lives. Fingal County Council’s ambitious social housing programme, which places importance on innovation in housing design and of the public realm, provides a rich context for artists to create new artworks and projects over the coming years.


Food production and the associated agri-business, including seafood and coastal produce, is of key importance to the county. Fingal is the most important centre of food production in Ireland with the region supplying 60% of Ireland’s total fruit and vegetables. High profile companies such as Keelings, Keoghs and Country Crest grow, distribute and export their produce from this base. There has been an increase in the availability of soft fruits and market vegetables for domestic consumption and export in the county.

Subsequently, designated food festivals have flourished recently, notably The Flavours of Fingal at Newbridge Demesne and the Howth Dublin Bay Prawn Festival each Spring. In recent curatorial practice food has allowed audiences to consider the essence of food production from the perspective of globalisation, food security in the landscape of climate change and the cultural, economic and historical significance of food production. With the rise of the artisan producer, located within traditional farming practices, and of the presence of over 800 allotment sites in the County, there is artistic potential for performance, exchange of ideas, transfer of knowledge and convivial hosting projects in the broadest sense to be enabled through Infrastructure.


Tourism is an important factor in Fingal, sustaining 200,000 jobs (one in four jobs in Fingal) across all sectors (transport, retail, entertainment and other services). Dublin Airport is a key driver of the sector, every one job created in the airport creates three to four in the region.

Malahide Castle and Gardens is Fingal’s top visitor attraction. The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 12th century. It was home to the Talbot family for almost 800 years (1185 to 1975).

Newbridge House and Farm and Ardgillan Castle and Demesne are also open to the public and are much-used leisure and recreation amenities in the County.

Swords Castle has very recently been restored and re-opened as a civic asset and tourist draw. The famous Cobbe family planted an orchard in the 18th century planting cherries, plums and damsons and still holds the oldest surviving apple tree dating back to 1890.

The coastline of Fingal is another important visitors’ attraction.

Social Inclusion

As Fingal is a young, vibrant and growing county, the Council is deeply committed to developing a more socially inclusive society by promoting equality of participation and access. The role and activities of the Arts Office reflects this commitment, and expresses this in the Fingal Arts Plan, 2013—2017, “Rich in Land and Sea”.

While much of the county is experiencing high levels of growth and prosperity, a profile of poverty and social exclusion, contained within the current Local Community Development Committee through SICAP Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme, has identified the following target populations for particular supports and resources; Children and young people, single parent families, unemployed people, Travellers, new ethnic communities, people with disabilities and older people.

Consultation feedback was strong from new communities that are recently identified by the extended urban profile of Fingal. These new communities are looking for their place within greater Fingal in order to better integrate within it and to establish their identity within the County. A desire for place-making strategies and the resourcing of innovative mechanisms to develop specific communities of interest emerged. Infrastructure aspires to starting long term conversations with the people of the new neighbourhoods in Meekstown, Charlestown, Stapolin, Millers Green, Ongar and beyond through engaged, sustained and embedded arts projects.

Engaging young people from across the different communities and demographics in Fingal, with a special emphasis on working towards engaging young boys and young men, (who are most often disengaged by the arts as illustrated by Dr Emer Smyth of the ESRI at the Places Matter Conference in Jan 2017) is of particular interest. Innovative, creative and imaginative arts interventions and arts projects using new media such as digital arts, social media and street arts towards increasing real possibilities for participation and access in the arts for those who want to be involved, will be supported through Infrastructure.

Infrastructure Fingal County Council’s Public Art Programme 2017—2021

© Infrastructure 2017