The new emigration sculpture, erected by Longford Town Council at Centenary Square last month, was delivered on budget – despite rumours the project had run over by several thousand euro.
The sculpture by well known Mayo artist, Rory Breslin, entitled ‘Longford Emigrants’ cost €53,000 in total. At a recent Town Council meeting it was estimated the final figure could have been as high as €70,000, but the Leader understands this is not the case.
The funding for the project came through the Per Cent for Art Scheme, whereby one percent of any state capital project is set aside for artistic works in the locality of the project. This particular funding came from the new wastewater treatment plant in Longford.
“When the Council apply for capital funding for a project, they can opt into the Per Cent for Art Scheme, which will set aside one percent of the overall total for use on an art project in the area,” Arts Officer Fergus Kennedy told the Leader.
At a recent Town Council meeting, Longford councillors expressed their disappointment that they were not invited to the official unveiling ceremony in recent weeks.
While councillors welcomed the new monument, Cllr Mae Sexton criticised the spending of such large amounts of taxpayer’s money on such projects, given the State’s financial position.
“When you see that home help hours are being pulled and that St Christophers’s budget was reduced you have to ask, is this not an appalling waste of public money?” the independent councillor asked.
However, Fergus Kennedy has stressed the money has to be used at a local level for artistic purposes, or not at all. “The funding is made available on this scheme to improve the local area in some way for present and future generations. As a result, it cannot be diverted to other areas.”
The Public Art Commissioning Committee of Longford County Council have just announced a wish to commission another piece for the county – this time commemorating the life and work of the late General Sean MacEoin.
The piece of art must celebrate the late Presidential candidate’s life as a blacksmith, revolutionary and politician. A budget of €50,000 is available for the work, with the finished project set to be placed at the newly realigned crossroads on the R194 at the centre of the village of Ballinalee.
Fergus Kennedy told the Leader that this sculpture was likely to be a more figurative piece in the shape of General Mac Eoin. “After that it’s up to the artist to use their creativity to best incorporate his youth spent as a blacksmith, his role as a freedom fighter and his later days as a successful politician.”
It is hoped the sculpture will be unveiled by the Taoiseach early next June.