herald

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Foundry does mother of all jobs to repair woman-and-child statue stolen during storm

The damaged statue being repaired by Leo Higgins owner of Cast Bronze Foundry in Dublin
The damaged statue being repaired by Leo Higgins owner of Cast Bronze Foundry in Dublin

A mother-and-child statue rescued by gardai after it was "kidnapped" in Finglas is being treated in "intensive care" at a Dublin foundry.

The bronze is now undergoing a major repair costing €5,000 in the hope that it can be re-erected on its old plinth beside the Finglas Road next March.

The theft was described as "opportunistic" after the statue was knocked off its plinth when it was struck by a heavy tree branch during the height of Storm Ophelia last October.

"It got some hell of a bashing," said Dublin City Council public art manager Ruairi O Cuiv.

Thieves picked up the fallen statue, put it in the back of a van and fled.

But the chancers were filmed during the "abduction" and video of the crime was sent to local Fine Gael TD Noel Rock who passed it on to gardai.

The statue was later found by gardai in a search of a disused shed in a field in North Finglas.

The bronze was created by sculptor Elizabeth McLaughlin more than 20 years ago.

It depicts a young mother playfully holding her young child in the air over her head and was originally displayed beside the Finglas bypass.

Crack

Local Fianna Fail councillor Paul McAuliffe said: "Around 2011, when the Finglas Tidy Towns Committee and other local groups were helping upgrade the environment in Finglas, the statue was moved to a more central location."

The statue is "loved" by the people of Finglas, he added.

The bronze is undergoing substantial repairs while at The Cast foundry in the Merchants Quay area of Dublin.

The statue had a crack in both arms and one foot was broken off while the other was damaged.

Renovation work was needed on the entire artwork, including a number of treatments such as a final "hot wax".

Mr O Cuiv, who oversees public art across the capital, said: "The people who took the statue were no different than looters in the middle of a riot."

Speaking of the fears people had that the figure could have been smelted down if it had not been recovered by gardai, he said a law should be passed in Ireland similar to laws in other countries that prohibit cash payments for scrap metal.

Laws elsewhere also stipulate that proper identification must be produced by anyone offering scrap metal for sale, Mr O Cuiv added.

Extra security is being considered for when the statue is returned to the Finglas Road.

"The best form of protection is the love of a community for its artwork," Mr O Cuiv said.

Lock

"The only way to completely protect it would be to lock it away, which would be no good. It's a public sculpture."

Mr O Cuiv said the council had been unable to contact Ms McLaughlin so far.

The authority would love to track her down in time for the statue to be re-erected in Finglas, he added.

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