Giant-sized sculptures created by West Cork artist Sarah Goyvaerts have been installed along the new N22 road between Macroom and Baile Bhuirne in Co Cork.

The two large-scale works, representing female heads, were inspired by the archaeological findings during the new road's development.

The first ancestral sculpture, entitled The Bronze Age Girl, represents a young female who was cremated and buried at Kilnagurteen some 3,500 years ago. The remains of the prehistoric girl were discovered during the archaeological works for the N22 bypass.

The second sculpture represents the mythical goddess Áine, traditionally associated with fertility, abundance, and midsummer. 

The Bronze Age Girl is on the raised verge facing oncoming eastbound traffic in the townland of Carrigaphooca and is positioned to face the Winter Solstice sunset. Meanwhile, 'Áine' is on the raised verge facing westbound traffic in the townland of Coolavokig and is positioned to face the Summer Solstice sunrise.

Speaking of her work, Goyvaerts said: “The sculptures serve as an acknowledgement of the deep ancestral connection and relationship to the land that is at the very core of the Múscraí’s cultural creativity and spirit of place.

"By drawing awareness from the wider cultural landscape of the Paps, through to the archaeological discoveries made in the course of the construction of this road, my hope is that the sculptures will act as a starting point, carrying the story of connection between the tangible and intangible, the connection between people and place that is intrinsically woven into the very fabric of the communities in Múscraí today.

"These sculptures are intended as a bridge linking the present day to the past, giving face to the ancestors as a mystical presence held in the landscape.” 

Goyvaerts posted a time-lapse video of the creation of the sculptures on her Instagram page:

Ahead of the installation, Goyvaerts said: “I’m excited for the public to finally see ‘The Bronze Age Girl’ and ‘Áine’ ancestor sculptures. It was a privilege to create works for a part of the county that I’m very familiar with."

The public art project was commissioned by Cork County Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland with funding from the Per Cent for Art Scheme for the N22 development. 

Mayor of Cork County Frank O'Flynn said: "As we unveil these captivating sculptures along the N22 development, we are celebrating the many benefits that the Macroom to Baile Bhuirne bypass has brought to the community, paving the way for future growth, while also looking to our past.

"Sarah Goyvaerts and her creative team have brought history and myth to life. These pieces not only beautify the landscape but also serve as a testament to our cultural legacy, marking our relationship to place and keeping our stories alive."