A bronze replica of the much-loved historical figure of Pádraic Ó Conaire, costing in the region of €45,000, could soon be placed where the original statue once stood in Eyre Square, perhaps finally bringing to an end a saga which councillors at a recent Galway City Council meeting said had gone on far too long.
The limestone statue was first erected in Eyre Square in 1935 and remained there for 64 years. Due to the adverse impact of weather, human contact, and vandalism, the statue was moved to the grounds of City Hall in 2004. Two years later it was moved again to the foyer of the Galway City Museum where it was decided this week that it will remain due to the risk of further damage, prompting councillors for a replica to be put in Eyre Square.
At Monday’s meeting, director of services Thomas Connell said quotes for the bronze replica were recieved from well known sculptors and that the estimated cost was €45,000. Mr Connell said the clear conclusion was that the original sculpture should not return to Eyre Square.
“It’s time to put an end to this,” said Cllr Catherine Connolly (Ind ), who added that councillors had agreed to put the statue in the museum with the understanding that a replica would be provided in Eyre Square. “This is a symbol of Galway. I implore the councillors to put an end to this saga. We pride ourselves on being a cultural city. Let’s put him back in the centre of Eyre Square,” she said.
Echoing these sentiments, Cllr Colette Connolly (Lab ) reminded the council that there was already funding of €35,000 available for a replica. “This issue has been discussed several times. We accept that the damage done is severe, we would love to see him back but we have to accept that is not feasible,” she said.
Giving support to the call for a replica, Cllr Pádraig Conneely (FG ) said: “In the name of God leave Pádraic Ó Conaire in peace, stop debating, and put a replica in Eyre Square”.
Mr O’Connell assured the councillors that all their views have been taken into account. He confirmed that there was €35,000 in funding available and that the shortfall had to be sourced. Councillors voted for a replica to be made, with 13 voting for and one against.