Date Published: 23-Oct-2009
FURTHER embarrassment will be heaped on red-faced City Hall officials this week by the revelation that a public art sculpture commissioned by the Council 20 years ago – which ended up ‘in bits’ on a scrap heap – could have fetched €250,000 at a recent auction.
In the 1980s, celebrated sculptor Edward Delaney designed a stainless steel sculpture for public display in the city but last year Council officials admitted to this newspaper that the sculpture is “in bits” and “beyond repair”.
It has now emerged that the monument – originally estimated last year to be worth around €50,000 if it were intact – could actually be worth €250,000 today, after a lot featuring five of the late artists’ sculptures sold for 10 times its guide price at auction in Dublin last week.
The 25-foot high artwork was commissioned to commemorate the opening of the Quincentenary Bridge after the Connemara-based artist, who passed away recently, won a national design competition in 1986.
The contemporary work of art was subsequently damaged by storm shortly after installation and was taken down for repair, never to be seen again, until the Council admitted to the Galway City Tribune in February 2008 that it was irreparable.
This is despite the fact that the then City Manager, John Tierney, said it was in “safe storage” until another suitable location was found for it.
The artist, a respected Aosdána member, was paid €10,000 at the time although there were mixed reactions to his sculpture with some people complaining it was a “distraction to motorists”. It was intended to be illuminated from the inside but was damaged before it was ever installed properly, was taken down, never re-erected and was eventually forgotten about until last year.
Five of the late artists’ sculptures sold for a record €300,000, last week which was 10 times the guide price and pre-sales estimates. The main piece, two bronze 2.5m high statues King and Queen, sold for €190,000, smashing the world record for the amount paid for an Irish sculpture by nearly €100,000. It had been stored in the garden of a house in Connemara before being given to the Irish Museum of Modern Art and was only expected to fetch €18,000 at auction.
The ‘disappeared’ Galway sculpture was estimated to be worth €50,000 last year but following the record prices paid for Delaney’s works last week, the Quincentenary sculpture could have actually fetched €250,000.
Yesterday, City Councillor Pádraig Conneely said City Hall management should be ashamed of themselves for discarding the sculpture of the late internationally renowned artist.
“Edward Delaney is renowned as world class sculptor, and his works are proudly displayed in cities all over the world. It is an acute embarrassment for Galway City Council that they confined this sculpture to the scrap heap, never to be seen again,” he said.
“It is highly insulting to his family and his memory. What makes matters worse is the piece was originally commissioned for €10,000 and it was valued at about €50,000 last year if it hadn’t been discarded.
“In light of the recent auction of his work, the sculpture could have been worth €250,000 now and to think that Galway City Council just dumped it in the Sandy Road Depot. This is an embarrassment for City officials and the people of Galway,” said Cllr Conneely.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup
Date Published: 29-Jan-2013
Athenry FC 1
Kilbarrack United 2
(After extra time)
For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.
On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.
An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.
However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.
They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.
With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.
Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.
Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.
Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.