Tuesday, August 01, 2017

'Homeward' placed as originally planned

A sculpture by a world famous artist which had been offered to Kilcullen has been placed on the M9 near Ballymount, writes Brian Byrne.

'Homeward', by the late Eamonn O'Doherty, was commissioned for the motorway by Kildare County Council under the 'Percent for Art' scheme which provides for such artistic pieces as part of the contract when public works like motorways are built. It comprises a representation of a window with a pitcher of bluebells on the window sill.

Eamonn O’Doherty was best known for his large-scale public sculptures. More than 30 in Ireland, Britain and the US include the ‘Tree of Gold’ in Central Bank Plaza in Dublin, the quincentennial sculpture 'Hookers' in Eyre Square Galway and the ‘The Great Hunger Memorial’ in Westchester, New York.

The Ballymount location was the original one planned for 'Homeward', but in the summer of 2011 an offer was made to Kilcullen to have it, because of a spate of thefts of metal artefacts and similar pieces around the country for their scrap value. Considering the original planned location too vulnerable, the Council had investigated a number of alternatives around the county before offering it to Kilcullen with a suggestion that it be placed in the Valley Park.

Impression by Kilcullen Diary of how 'Homeward' would have looked in the Valley.
The proposed location there, where it would have been visible from the bridge, was considered the best. But the suggestion raised controversy.

The Sculpture, the Story from Kilcullen.

The matter eventually resulted in a public meeting hosted by Kilcullen Community Action, the result of which was a decision that Kilcullen should accept the offer. The location was also welcomed by the sculptor.

Then came a hiatus, when O'Doherty died suddenly. Implementation of the project was stalled for a year in legal issues over the artist's estate, and then further into 2013 before everyone concerned were agreed.

But almost a year and a half later, in the summer of 2014, the project was still only at the tender stage for installation. It became stalled again, and with changes at the top of Kildare County Council, a tandem change in attitude to the project seemed to develop.

Last year, it transpired that the Council wasn't prepared to proceed any further, citing problems with multiple and complex ownerships on the site at the entrance of the Valley park. Last month, 'Homeward' was installed at Ballymount, for where it had originally been designed.