27 Nov 2021

Limerick artist blacksmith unveils sculpture that commemorates 1916

  Artist and blacksmith Eric O'Neill unveils 'one-off piece of craftsmanship' 

Limerick artist blacksmith unveils sculpture that commemorates 1916

Eric O’Neill unveils his sculpture titled Reflection in Cappamore library Picture: Josephine Blackwell

THE WORDS of Padraig Pearse helped inspire an artist blacksmith create a unique sculpture that commemorates the Easter Rising.

At the unveiling of the piece in Cappamore library, titled Reflection, Eric O’Neill read out the famous lines of one of the leaders of the rebellion.

“When we are all wiped out, people will blame us for everything, condemn us… but in a few years they will see the meaning of what we tried to do.”

A large gathering attended the event to mark heritage week in the village.

“As a member of the Cappamore community, I feel it’s important for us to join with our fellow citizens countrywide and commemorate the events of 1916. We have all been further educated by the recently published literature, documentaries, lectures and events relating to 1916. These events have been dignified, respectful and fitting; tonight’s unveiling also reflects this sentiment,” said Mr O’Neill.

He said the “sculpture engages with us, through its light reflective and mirrored steel surface; it asks us as a society to reflect, and to consider have we succeeded in achieving what these freedom fighters set out to do”.

It takes the form of a bouquet of cut Easter lilies and signifies lives of all ages cut short by the Rising. The bouquet is held together by a steel binding. 

“Similarly these visionaries were bound by their beliefs, actions, and ultimately their fate. The red oxide patina within the lily illuminates the blood loss of the event. The inscription plate forged of a substantial material is formed and folded to reflect the delicacy of a parchment; it pays tribute to the proclamation document. This ‘visionary document’, years ahead of its time set out their beliefs to achieve equality, fairness for all, and its ambition to build a truly inclusive republic.

“One hundred years on, have we achieved this?” asks Mr O’Neill.

As well as living in the locality he is a resident artist in Cappamore arts studios, and teaches the only City and Guilds accredited Blacskmsith and Ironcraft course in the village’s LCFE campus.

Mr O’Neill has also made the bench outside the library in honour of John Hayes and a sculpture for the Pope. He dedicated his latest work to all of those who give their time freely to enhance their community and locality.

“Be they a member of the coaching staff of a locally played sport, be they a committee member of an association working for the betterment of Cappamore. Be they a teacher, care worker, choir member or volunteer, politician who goes beyond their expected duties, for the benefit of all here in Cappamore. Your efforts are appreciated by all. I’d like to mention two associations in particular, Cappamore Development Association for their ongoing efforts to develop Cappamore and its hinterland. We are standing in a location that pays tribute to their efforts and to those of the council’s library service and Ballyhoura.

“Lastly but by no means least I’d like to mention the work and efforts of Cappamore’s Historical Society. Every year the compilation of local events and achievements is published as a yearbook. This is a huge voluntary undertaking. The published memories, images, poetry, stories, folklore and local history add greatly, to achieve a sense belonging, and further develop a sense of pride of place,” said Mr O’Neill.

The crowd was so large that speakers were placed outside the library so attendees could hear the speeches of Deputy Mayor Noel Gleeson; chairman of Cappamore Historical Society, Oliver Dillon; Damien Brady, city and county librarian, and voices of the Sliabh Feilim Singers. You could hear a pin drop when they sang the words written by Canon Charles O’Neill about the Easter Rising. There was also silence when Cappamore’s own parish priest, Fr Dick Browne read the Proclamation.

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