11 Aug 2022

Are we any closer to a hurling monument?

Any sign of that hurling monument?

Any sign of that hurling monument?

That’s the question the people of Kilkenny are asking this week as the county finds itself on the brink of another hurling season without a permanent public tribute to the men in Black and Amber. It’s 2013 now, and Mayor Sean O’ hArgain has vowed that the city will not have to wait another year.

“The committee will meet on this in the next week or so,” he said on Monday.

“It is our intention that the design will go to competition, and of course we welcome all ideas and interest. I feel strongly that we should have one of the landmark public artwork/sculptures in the country.”

Just a few months ago, Wexford unveiled its own hurling monument – a statue of the legendary Nickey Rackard. Wexford Borough Council commissioned top British sculptor Mark Richards to cast the larger than life-size statue, at a cost of €120,000.

The funding came from the Per Cent for Art scheme, whereby 1% of the cost of funded building projects can be diverted to produce artwork. Kilkenny Borough Council’s initial intention was to avail of the same funding; with a sum of €150,000 understood to have been set aside following the completion of the M9 motorway.

But in October last year, it was revealed that this money was no longer available. Nonetheless, the borough council has said it is committed to the idea, but it will now have to come up with the money separately.

A committee, which includes Mayor O’ hArgain, Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council Marie Fitzpatrick, Pat Henderson, a member of the Crafts Council and a number of local officials, was established last year. They will meet in the coming days.

Local artist Tom King has submitted his own possible design to the Kilkenny People – a Kilkenny Cat made from hurls (pictured). Cllr Andrew McGuinness previously suggested something similar to the Ted Williams monument in Fenway Park, Boston, which depicts a baseball player handing down a cap to a young child.

It is intended that the statue will be located on the Parade.

The mayor has said that given people’s varying tastes in art, it will be impossible to produce a design that satisfies everyone. He said the committee would not be constrained to either totally contemporary or totally traditional designs. As part of the ‘Medieval Mile’ project, it has also been proposed that a tribute to Kilkenny’s hurlers should be constructed at the area where Kieran Street and High Street diverge. It would involve an ash tree being planted on the site, and possibly a ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’-style plaza, with hurlers’ handprints imprinted in cement.

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