A new piece of sculpture which was commissioned by Westmeath County Council for the interior of the newly re developed Mullingar Town Park was installed this week.
The sculpture called The Silver Brosna /An Lamh Airgid was created by artist Ann Meldon Hugh and is inspired by the history of Mullingar.
The River Brosna which flows from Lough Owel through Mullingar Town and into Lough Ennell is mentioned over and over again in tales factual and legendry. The Lake County, famous for its rivers and lakes is the Brosna's catchment area, with lakes large and small, a beautiful river and two canals. The town of Mullingar was built on the Brosna and the name of the town comes from a story involving one of the mills on the river. The river was originally called the Silver Arm and is mentioned in the 11th century in a poem by Cuan Ó Lotchain which lists the High Kings seven privileges as….
“Fish from the Boyne,
Deer from Lubrich,
Fruit from Manann,
Cresses from the River Brosna...”
At one stage in history there were four mills on the Brosna and it was always a place of trade and industry connected to the land. The poet O’Brennan says….
“Craftsmen skilled, and merchants good
Where gold and silver arms reaching
Ply their trade by Brosnas flood;
Vats for tanning, green for bleaching…”
From legend there is an account of Ath Feine, (the ford of the warriors ) a crossing place over the Brosna which was the site of a battle in the Tain Bo Cuailgne, and the earliest Town Seal (13th century ) has a representation of the Brosna flowing beneath a mill wheel.
Through the ages the Brosna has been the Silver Arm, the Sparkling Brosna, but history tells us that it was not always so and that the river was an open sewer in later centuries until the introduction of a sewerage system. The river has been deepened, polluted, and diverted and survives today listed as a course fishing river with rich limestone water that produces the finest fish! This sculpture celebrates the Brosna and its natural beauty and importance in Mullingar’s history.
The sculpture is 8ft high and 3 1/2 ft wide and made in stainless steel and bronze. Depicting the flowing water of the Brosna with intertwining figures, fish, plants, etc, the burnished stainless steel will give the shimmering silver impression of the water and the bronze relief will be the figures and plants. The piece is three-dimensional with life-sized sculptures on the back and front, some figures would appear to move between both sides as through the water. The people represent the generations of people who have lived on the banks of the river in the town of Mullingar. The other side depicts the bull and warriors of the Tain Legend.
The stainless steel is burnished and the surface has been given a disc-grinded-finish to give the surface a three-dimensional, almost holographic effect as one moves about the piece.
Ann Meldon Hugh is a sculptor living and working in Kells, Co Meath and in recent years has created a number of public sculptures, one of which was Mote Grainne Og, outside Moate.