Icarus moving to Rocky Road

This article is from page 14 of the 2011-03-29 edition of The Clare People. OCR mistakes are to be expected so download the original SWF or the rendered page 14 JPG

ONE of Ennis’ best known pieces of sculpture, ‘Icarus’, should be unveiled at its new home on the Rocky Road roundabout in June, according to Ennis Town Council.

The 11-tonne statue had occupied a place on a roundabout at the heart of the market area of the town prior to its removal in December 2006.

The statue, which is currently been stored on the grounds of the council office’s at Waterpark House, is due to be moved to another roundabout on a section of the N85 Western Relief Road.

Speaking last week, town clerk Eddie Power explained, “The size and weight of the statue is fairly significant so an appropriate base to hold the statue at the roundabout has to be designed. That design work is almost complete and then we will prepare a schedule for tenders to carry out the work.”

Mr Power added that he “expected Icarus to be in place on the Rocky Road roundabout, roughly by the end of June”. The statue was designed by the renowned Irish sculptor John Behan.

It was gifted to Ennis Town Council by the former Shannon-based company Guinness Peat Aviation in 1990, to mark the town’s 750 year anniversary. Behan titled his work Daedalus though it became known locally as Icarus.

Former Irish Ambassador to the USA and Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Sean Donlon, welcomed the news that Icarus would return and told The Clare People , just how the piece was commissioned by the late Tony Ryan.

“In 1990, Ennis was celebrating 750 years since its foundation – and asked GPA to make a contribution to the celebrations. The late Tony Ryan, GPA’s founder and then its chief executive, decided that we would do something and after some internal discussions hit on the idea of commissioning Ireland’s leading sculptor, John Behan, to do a piece which would be publicly displayed in the town. Behan was by now well established. Behan was fussy about where his works would be displayed and Tony Ryan was equally fussy about how GPA’s money would be spent. On a wet Saturday afternoon in 1990, Tony, John and I walked the streets of Ennis looking for an appropriate site. I had grown up on Bindon Street (no. 11, now Michael Houlihan’s law offices) and thought a site there would be good but Tony thought this was too elitist. Eventually, we settled on the Market Square site and, happily, the council accepted this site. The piece was put in place and, on behalf of GPA, where I was executive vice-president, I unveiled it. There was a reception afterwards in the Old Ground Hotel. For me it was an emotional return to Ennis where my brother Tomas had been killed in the Carmody Hotel collapse in 1958. It was also the last time my father, a former school inspector for County Clare, visited Ennis,” recalled Sean.

Icarus’ place in the market will be taken by a new piece by local sculp- tor Barry Wrafter. The piece will be installed in the market area of Ennis and will be the latest addition to the town’s ever-growing sculpture trail.

The statue, which shows two farmers and cow, is inspired by Ennis’ market tradition.

The sculpture is a joint initiative between Ennis Tidy Towns and the Ennis Sculpture Initiative. Mr Power explained, “It’s appropriate in terms of its depiction of the Ennis area. The pieces involved should be in place by June. As in the case of Icarus, it’s significant in terms of its size and weight.”

The new statue had been welcomed by local businesses. Donie Neylon, whose men’s clothes shop business has operated in the market since the 1950s, said a statue should be located in the area. “It’s a very big space [the roundabout]. There should be something on it.”

On hearing that Icarus would soon be on public display again Sean Donlon promised a ‘second relaunch’.

“It would be great to see it restored. Tony Ryan deserves it, John Behan deserves it – incidentally, he has gone on to many great honours at home and abroad – and most of all the people of Ennis deserve it. To mark the second coming, my former GPA colleagues and I will have another reception in the Old Ground Hotel!” said Sean.

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