President Michael D Higgins visited An Cheathrú Rua earlier this month to unveil a sculpture by artist Edward Delaney, who lived in the area for nearly 30 years.
Calling the setting at Trá an Dóilín ‘inspired’, the President commended Eddie’s family, the local community and Galway County Council for coming together to realise the project after the sculptor’s death in 2009.
Praising the work, President Higgins said: ‘Píosa fíor-álainn amach is amach é Scáileanna na mBád, atá déanta de chruach agus a chuireann i gcuimhne báid thraidisiúnta Chonamara.
‘Is ceiliúradh é ar an ealaíontóir agus ar an bhfear faoi leith a bhí in Eddie.’
The President spoke to a crowd that included Eddie’s partner Dr Anne Gillen, children and grandchildren at the event on September 02. He emphasised that the occasion was important not only to Eddie’s family and friends, but to the artistic heritage of the nation as a whole. Best known for his bronze sculptures, Eddie’s other works included a stamp designed for the 50 year commemoration of the 1916 Rising and album covers for the Chieftains.
His iconic statues dot the landscape of Dublin, with his Wolfe Tone sculpture and famine memorial located in St Stephen’s Green, and his statue of Thomas Davis situated opposite the main entrance of Trinity College.
Having studied sculpture in Ireland, Germany and Italy, Eddie went on to represent Ireland in the Biennale in Paris, in 1959 and 1961, as well as the 1965 World Fair in New York.
He was also the recipient of Arts Council sculpture awards in 1962 and 1964. The President spoke of Eddie’s determination, attending classes in the National College of Art in Dublin despite not having secured a place to study there.
Saying that Eddie ‘broke with tradition to create exciting approaches to art’, the President talked of Eddie’s interest in the the West African art of lost-wax casting in bronze and how he had striven to expand his horizons ‘beyond what the Ireland of the fifties could offer’.
President Higgins said: ‘Eddie had made his reputation to a large extent through working in bronze but he instinctively knew that this would not suit the land and seascapes of An Cheathrú Rua.
‘Connemara demanded a different medium and Eddie turned to other metals, steel and even fibreglass to give expression to his ideas.
‘When you stand here and see the result in this most stunning piece, which could not be placed in a more perfect setting, you can appreciate something of the exceptional talent that Eddie possessed.’