As 2016 sees Ireland celebrates the centenarry of the Rising I was honoured to be commissioned to make a bronze statue of Thomas MacDonagh. The statue was to be placed in his home town Of Cloughjordan, County Tipperary. He was a signatory of the Irish proclamation and took part in the rebellion and was executed for his involvement. As I studied him I realised he was not a soldier but a teacher and a poet and so I tried to portray a thoughtful man.
The fact that he was one of the seven men that signed the proclamation and that not many people had read this interesting document convinced me to design a sculpture that would display the proclamation. This way I could show the figure in deep contemplation in a moment in time and also allow viewers to intereact with the statue and read the document.
And so I developed a series of sketches and the committee in Cloughjordan chose this one though the design changed slightly when I realised how big the document was and I had to lower it as not block the view of his face.
I spent a lot of time modelling his face as I wanted bring out the humanity of the character and to ensure that it was in no way pompous or triumphant.
The people of Cloughjordan organised a fantastic event for the unveiling which was done by Thomas MacDonagh's granddaughter Muriel McAuley.
At 3 am the next morning a vigil was held as it was exactly 100 years ago that he was executed.
All in all this was a significant, challenging and ultimately rewarding project.
Thanks to Louise Joyce and Jacinta Guinan for the photographs.