8 Sept 2008
For almost a year now the decommissioned Kilnaboy post office has had a new purpose and new lease of life. Renamed X-PO, the old building has seen a concentrated burst of artistic and community activity unique in a small rural community. Driven by the vision and energy of Dromoher artist Deirdre O’Mahony, as part of her doctoral thesis at the University of Brighton, the X-PO has drawn many people in, curious to see what kind of a thing this X-PO arts project might be way out in the rural west.
Local people initially embraced the project through the first archive exhibition: a tribute to a great local character, genuine gentleman and postmaster of many years, Mattie Rynne. There followed exhibitions, talks and presentations dealing with the changing environment, changing farm life and changing rural social circumstances that mirrored events and concerns in countless other rural parishes.
Local interest groups took ownership of the X-PO idea through local history and mapping projects. They used X-PO computer resources to scan and reprint old photographs gathered in the community for a community archive. They also used the building as a meeting place and a base. The Macra na Fierme also found a home there. Health and Beauty and Set Dancing evenings were arranged.
Visitors from all over the world signed the visitors book. Passing tourists, academics and students from the Burren School of Art, conference delegates and summer scholars all came to look and left with a glimpse of Ireland past, present and future that they could have found absolutely nowhere else.
And now ….?
Now ... the reins pass from a single artist to the X-PO Community. Action Groups have been set up to work on Funding, Culture, Local History and Education. The ‘Team X-PO’ Management and Co-ordination Group has been set up to continue the work Deirdre started: to continue to build social and artistic networks locally and globally: to adapt the basic shape of the X-PO to its new circumstances.
What that shape will turn out to be is not yet clear. Commitment, participation, interest and circumstance will all play their part. Over the past year valuable friends and partnerships have been made for the X-PO those relationships will carry into the future.
At present the necessary structures are being put in place so that funds and grants can be applied for, exhibitions and events can be organised and the place kept open.
On September 19th there will the first of a weekly Friday Tea and Coffee morning and a chance to preview the new photography and film exhibition: X-PO Retrospective – the beginnings. This exhibition will feature large-scale photographs taken by Deirdre O’Mahony when she first started to work on the project nearly a year ago. There will also be showing a film by Ennistymon filmmaker Fergus Tighe who has documented the X-PO from the early days.
Clubs and gatherings will start on Monday 22nd September and should feature a Singers and Players Club, Set Dancing, Local History and Mapping, Drawing for Portfolio, Health and Beauty, Music.
X-PO would like to thank everyone who has helped, sponsored or aided us in any way. X-PO would especially like to thank those who have participated in the many events over the past year.
Contact XPO on 086 0872983 or Team XPO for availabilities and times.