Before i die…..

Pictured Above: Michael Flynn.

Pictured Above: Michael Flynn.

Residents of Sandymount may have noticed the large chalkboard that appeared on the wall of the electricity substation on Sandymount Green last month. The board was headed with the striking words “Before I die…” and invited passers by to use the chalk provided to fill in blank spaces on this theme, so that locals could express the goals which they would like to achieve in their lifetime.

Community arts enthusiasts erected the board as part of the family fun day planned for June 26th, which unfortunately was cancelled due to bad weather. Despite this, locals immediately took to the task of adorning the board with their thoughts and wishes, and it was almost completely covered with inspired messages within an hour of being opened to the public.

The Sandymount Green Before I Die chalkboard is part of a global public art project initiated by New Orleans artist Candy Chang. As a response to depression brought on by the loss of a loved one, Chang obtained permission to convert the walls of an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighbourhood into a chalkboard similar to the one that appeared in Sandymount. Almost overnight Chang’s chalkboard building was covered in messages from local people keen to express their aspirations and dreams.

The idea quickly spread globally via social media and so a website was created that now links over 1,000 Before I Die walls in countries as far-flung as Kazakhstan, Iraq, Haiti, China, Ukraine, Portugal, Japan, Denmark, Argentina, and South Africa. A succesful Before I Die book has been produced which celebrates the walls and this international public art phenomenon.

Bringing the Before I Die project to Sandymount Green was the brainchild of professional dancer Lucia Kickham and bank worker Michael Flynn, both of whom live locally. The pair became inspired to build a Before I Die wall after viewing an online TED talk by Chang, “It was a simple and effective idea that we thought we’d love to do,” explained Flynn. However, it was when they teamed up with Declan Hayden, a Community Development Officer with Dublin City Council, that the project started to move forward as Hayden secured the use of the wall on Sandymount Green that would host the chalkboard and open the initiative up to community involvement.

Since being installed the board has received such diverse entries as “Before I die… I want to meet Santa”, “Before I die… I want to go husky sledding under the Northern Lights”, and “Before I die… I want to kiss Panti Bliss”.

The team are now planning to situate the Before I Die chalkboard in various public spaces around the city so that other communities can express their hopes and dreams, and the project will continue “as long as the board is used, not abused,” Flynn explained.

Keep track of the chalkboard’s location, and the project in general, via the ‘Before I Die Dublin’ Facebook page, on at, and at hashtag #beforeidiedublin. The global project webpage can be accessed at: .
To contact Michael Flynn, phone: 087 7764889.

By Harry Bradley