Emigration monument set for Longford town’s Centenary Square

The Artistic Features committee of Longford Town Council and Longford County Council announced earlier this week, the commissioning of a striking sculptural work to be located at Centenary Square in Longford town. The piece by the well known Mayo sculptor Rory Breslin is entitled ‘The Longford Emigrant’.

The Artistic Features committee of Longford Town Council and Longford County Council announced earlier this week, the commissioning of a striking sculptural work to be located at Centenary Square in Longford town. The piece by the well known Mayo sculptor Rory Breslin is entitled ‘The Longford Emigrant’.

“The design brief for the piece was very simple in that the committee required the piece to be site specific, i.e. that it be designed with the physical dimensions of Centenary Square in mind,” Arts Officer Fergus Kennedy told the Leader. “Also, in light of the fact that O’Tool’s Bar is reputed to be the nineteenth century location of a booking office for the Cunard Shipping Line, from which generations of Longford emigrants bought their tickets for a new life in the new world, the committee also required some reference to Longford emigrants.”

After long deliberation the Artistic Features Committee decided upon the Rory Breslin proposal, because according to County Mayor, Cllr Frank Kilbride, “the proposal represented a very simple but strong representation of the human experience of emigration”.

“The proposal is for a pair of bronze life-size emigrants set onto an Irish limestone circular plinth,” Mr Kennedy continued. “The overall height of the piece will be eight feet or 240cm. The figures are of a young man and woman in their early twenties. She is sitting on a suitcase looking east and he is standing staring into the distance to the west. Both figures are holding their tickets in their hands, perhaps both bought from the booking office and as an art piece, the sculpture tries to reflect the tragedy of emigration but also the hopes and aspirations of those uprooted; their faces expressing sadness with perhaps an element of resignation, but also a sense of stoic determination.”

The sculpture will be installed in Centenary Square in Late August and its commissioning has also provided a wonderful opportunity for a Longford writer to have their own words set in stone. The bronze statues will stand at nearly eight feet tall when it is erected on a circular limestone plinth and it is here that a very special dedication will lie for all eternity.

“The limestone plinth will be inscribed with a dedication or inscription on the theme of emigration,” Mr Kennedy added. “The commissioning committee wish to invite Longford writers to compose a fitting dedication in either poetry or prose of no more than twenty words. Entries will be judged by a prominent professional writer and of course the prize for the winning writer will be to have their name and words set in stone as part of a beautiful art piece located in a prominent location in town for generations to come.”

Everyone is welcome to enter the competition. Interested parties are invited to compose a suitable dedication or inscription through poetry or prose, in either Irish or English, of not more than twenty words and e-mail the entry to fkennedy@longfordcoco.ie . Entries should be marked ‘Centenary Square Sculpture Inscription’ and people may enter as many times as they wish. All submissions will be displayed on the website www.virtualwriter.net and the closing date for receipt of entries will be 4pm, Friday, June 1.