Efforts underway to stabilise Michael Hartnett statue in Newcastle West

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

DISCUSSIONS are now underway on the best way to stabilise the Michael Hartnett Memorial Statue which stands in the middle of the Square in Newcastle West.

DISCUSSIONS are now underway on the best way to stabilise the Michael Hartnett Memorial Statue which stands in the middle of the Square in Newcastle West.

Concerns arose about the stability of the sculpture at the weekend, prompting fears that attempts had been made to damage or steal it.

“There is a suspicion that somebody tried to pull it from its foundations, that they tied a rope on to it and tried to pull it with a jeep,” Cllr Michael Collins told the Limerick Leader.

For safety reasons, the sculpture has been cordoned off. But Cllr Collins said it was his understanding that it would not be necessary to remove the sculpture to improve stabilisation.

“It would be virtually impossible to remove it from its foundations,” he said, pointing out that the life-size sculpture of the late poet was tied internally by rods, through the rough-cut limestone plinth, into the ground.

Discussions will now take place to try to re-enforce the foundations externally and it is expected the Dublin-based sculptor Roray Breslin will be consulted about this. The statue itself does not appear to have been harmed or damaged.

It was commissioned by Newcastle West Community Council, backed by Limerick County Arts Office and West Limerick Resources, and depicts the poet with a book in his hand looking towards Maiden St, where he was born was.

It was erected a little over 12 months ago to coincide with Eigse Michael Hartnett 2011 and was unveiled in a very moving ceremony by Hartnett’s great friend, fellow poet Paul Durcan. In his speech, Mr Durcan paid tribute to the people of Newcastle West for putting a poet at the centre of their town.

The Gardai were unable to throw any light on the issue and were unaware of any attack on the sculpture or of any attempt to steal it.