One of Athlone’s most viewed pieces of public art is to be relocated to a more prominent position, it was revealed this week.
The abstract monument entitled ‘Children of Lir’ - the four-pronged sculpture which has overlooked the Kilmartin roundabout on the old Dublin Road was removed this week to be renovated and re-painted before being repositioned in the centre of the roundabout.
This is the second move for the 23-year-old monument, which had previously occupied a spot on the slip road off the N6 Roscommon Road.
“A plan was agreed between the town council and the Tidy Towns committee for the sculpture to be the centerpiece of the roundabout. It was originally placed in 1991 by Westmeath County Council, and it’s felt it should be in a more prominent place,” confirmed town clerk Pat Keating.
‘It’ll be more attractive there. If you’ve ever seen French roundabouts on holiday, they have some very attractive monuments, and this move is putting a marker down that the town values culture and art,” he added.
A contractor broke the Richard Enda King piece out of its concrete plinth on Monday, March 10, and though a return date has not yet been similarly cast in stone, Mr Keating said: “It’ll be back very quickly”. No cost for the move was given either.
Gerry Johnson, a spokesman for the Athlone Tidy Towns committee told the Advertiser that: “We made an approach to the town council with the idea to re-locate the monument to the centre of the roundabout, and give it a more central focus. Its previous location hadn’t much effect, and it was looking a bit scummy”.
An inscription by the artist on the piece reads: “This steel sculpture depicts in abstract form one of the most lyrical legends in Irish mythology. It symbolises the transformation of the four children of Lir into swans. Forbidden to land on shore, they suffered the hardships of wild turbulent seas and storms for 9,000 years and yet remained together as a cohesive family. This sculpture evokes their elegiac spirit”.
Richard Enda King died in 1995 aged 52, four years after the completion of this sculpture.