Sunday, April 10, 2016

Big turnout for 'Magician' unveiling

The threat of seriously inclement weather didn't deter a large number of people turning out this afternoon for the unveiling of The Magician sculpture, writes Brian Byrne.

The piece, commissioned from local artist Noel Scullion by Kilcullen Development Association, commemorates all those involved with, and supportive of, the work of KDA since its first iteration in 1949.

"This is about the infectious nature of inspiration," the artist said after the sculpture and accompanying plaque had been unveiled by Mrs Rita Nugent, whose husband Paddy had been one of the prime movers behind the work KDA achieved in bringing industry and affordable housing to the town in the 1960s and 1970s.

"The magic of the human mind and body that makes good and great things happen is symbolised here with the inside-out head, the hands, and the radiating letters KDA."

Concluding by saying it has been a 'privilege' to be involved in the endeavour, Noel emphasised that, since the foundation of KDA, getting things done has become 'part and parcel of the fabric of this community'.

At a reception afterwards in Kilcullen Heritage Centre, John Martin outlined the beginnings and the development of KDA down the decades, making particular reference to the vision and persistence of people like Paddy Nugent and Cllr Michael St Leger, and continued by others such as the late Pat Dunlea and other new directors when they had taken over the operation of KDA from the founders.

He noted that over the last 15 years, at the request of Paddy Nugent himself, the assets of KDA had been distributed in over €1m of grants to some 22 local community and social organisations.

Responding on behalf of the Nugent and St Leger families, Seamus Nugent, Paddy's eldest son, recalled his own memories of growing up in a time when there 'was no attitude of entitlement, that the State would provide'. "If you couldn't find a job you had to leave and find one somewhere else. So my father and the rest of the small KDA committee were driven to improve the town, to making it a better place to live in, to creating jobs and housing that people could afford, so that the generations after them would not have to leave, and the town would prosper and grow."

In conclusion, Seamus paid tribute to the 'unsung heroes' like his mother Rita. "When Paddy was out sorting the world, Rita was at home raising six children. And she was there to pick up the pieces when things were not going well, offering comfort and sound advice.

"The men get their pictures in the papers, and the statues," he finished. "The women get the worry, and their reward in Heaven."

For some considerable time afterwards this afternoon, many memories of those days were shared between older and newer members of the community of Kilcullen, with the members of the St Leger and Nugent families present, some of whom had travelled from America for the occasion.

A link to all the pictures from the event is here or alternatively here.