Sat, Dec
19 New Articles

Sculpture plans tumble


Sculpture plans tumble  

Statue of St Patrick to be moved elsewhere after ‘hateful opposition’

Áine Ryan

PLANS to build the world’s largest statue of Saint Patrick on top of the Reek have tumbled and been put on ice by Canadian sculptor, Timothy Schmalz, after a Mayo News poll convinced him of its controversiality. Almost 70 percent of respondents to the online poll said they were not in favour of the 100ft bronze statue being placed on the 2,510-foot-high pyramidal peak, where the patron saint is said to have spent 40 days and nights fasting back in 441AD.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, Timothy Schmalz said: “I have decided not to continue to build the world’s largest Saint Patrick on the Reek, as I have received so much hateful opposition to a project in which I intended to celebrate Irish culture and spirituality. I apologise to those people who may have thought I was being disrespectful to the sacred history of the place and am now looking to place the proposed statue somewhere else in Ireland.”
Thanking the 26 percent of respondents who supported the idea, Mr Schmalz said his research confirmed that such a statue would have attracted millions of extra visitors to Mayo each year.

Smaller statue
WHEN asked yesterday if he would consider a smaller and less-flamboyant design for the statue, located on the side of the holy mountain, rather than the peak, Mr Schmalz said he was open to further discussions with interested parties.
Responding, Father Frank Fahey of Ballintubber Abbey said: “Perhaps a toned-down version of the statue might work elsewhere on the mountain, but it would depend on where he wanted to put it and on the views of all the stake-holders involved. The fact that Patrick was a pilgrim and a shepherd would have to be highlighted in the design.”
Father Fahey believes ‘the holy mountain is a sacred place in itself both symbolically and actually and thus a monument to Saint Patrick and to God’.

Archaeological legacy
WHILE there have been many negative comments about Schmalz’s idea, it was the considered response of local archaeologist, Siobhán Duffy that convinced the sculptor to abandon his plan.
In her email to Schmalz, Ms Duffy, who is a native of Louisburgh and an expert on the cross-millennial archaeological history of the mountain, observed that she did not think it was his intention ‘to knowingly destroy important parts of our cultural heritage’ and could thus only assume he had ‘no prior knowledge of the presence of archaeological remains on the summit of the mountain’.
She wrote: “While there is a number of different arguments that could be employed against your proposal, regarding the visual changes to the silhouette of the mountain and subsequent visual impact on the surrounding landscape, these could be regarded as subjective and open to debate. Of even greater importance than these concerns, however, is the direct damage that would be done to aspects of our cultural heritage by the construction of a large statue on the summit of Croagh Patrick.
“Croagh Patrick is not only one of the country’s most important pilgrimage sites today, but is one of the most important archaeological sites in Mayo. Excavations carried out on the summit in the 1990s revealed early medieval Christian remains, as well as hut-sites, and a bank enclosing the entire summit that is probably pre-Christian. As such, the entire summit of the mountain must be regarded as a pre-eminent archaeological complex, reflecting the importance of the mountain as a focus of ritual activities since prehistoric times.”
She also cites the fact that Irish law protects all archaeological remains and, moreover, that any ground disturbance in the vicinity of an archaeological site requires express permission from a government department, including minor disturbances that would not need planning permission.

Statue of Liberty
IN an earlier Mayo News story, Mr Schmalz likened the concept to the Statue of Liberty, which was gifted to American citizens by the people of France back in 1868. Mr Schmalz has already made the initial model for the giant statue, which at a cost of €10 million, would have been funded by benefactors from all over the world. He had planned to build the statue at his foundry in Beijing and ship it to Ireland in sections.

Click here for previous interview with Schmalz, and images of his proposed statue.

The Mayo News poll reveals that the vast majority of readers are against the 100ft statue that was proposed for Croagh Patrick.

Poll results
How do you feel about the proposed 100ft statue of St Patrick on Croagh Patrick’s summit?
Don’t like the idea    68.8%
Like the idea        25.9%
Not sure        5.3%
*696 readers took part in the poll.

Facebook reaction

The vast majority of comments on The Mayo News Facebook page were against locating the 100ft statue on Croagh Patrick. Opinion on the statue itself was somewhat divided.

A small selection of the comments that were made:

I live directly under the reek. No thank you, egotistical load of scrap metal.

I like the statue but [it] definitely does not belong up there.

Let him fund every single cent of it himself including getting that up the Mountain...THEN see how fast he changes his mind!!! This is just his over-inflated ego wanting even more publicity, the meaning of the Mountain and Irish history means nothing to him

A terrible idea and a gross sculpture based on stereotypical fallacies and inaccuracies.

No offense to the artist – beautiful but not for the mountain

I’m sure we could find a spot for it in the Atlantic!

Are there no Irish artists who could produce a less kitsch sculpture? I can’t see this adding to the Reek, rather it’d take away from the natural beauty of the area.

How dare they take our mountain and stick this thing that looks like a prop from He-Man.

No, no, please and thank you, no! The Reek is perfect as it is. The tiny chapel at the top is exactly right.

HAVE YOUR SAY email aineryan@mayonews.ie with your comments