5. Sculpture Garden


Venue: Deerpark, Ennistymon. Sculptor: Maurice Quillinan. Period: July 17 - August 2, 1984.

By the middle of June two murals had been completed and a third was being lined up. We began to realise that in a town the size of Ennistymon three murals would be plenty, especially as we reached the stage where we were looking for a wall-any wall-on which to put our next public painting.


On one of those sultry June nights it was suggested as an alternative that a piece of sculpture be commissioned for a public site in the town. This was readily acceptable to all concerned; and the sculpture garden became known as the "Fourth Mural".

Soon after, Marian Fitzgibbon reported that she had found a willing (and able) young sculptor in the form of Maurice Quillinan from Limerick who was willing to come to Ennistymon and sculpt a piece in situ.


Maurice visited the town and selected a site at the northern end of the town opposite the old Protestant church and on Co. Council land. The main field is the proposed site for a future Council housing scheme, while the sculpture site is adjacent to this on a small triangular patch of waste land.


The original design proposed the sculpting and erection of "seven standing stone sculptures" each about four feet in height. The pillars would consist of "Recumbent and standing stones on the cut grass surface" and the design "would be similar to the pre-Celtic stones at Newgrange."

The finished design instead emerged as four standing pillars each composed of two or three sections—and a recumbent kerbstone structure in four sections. The units also included water-channels and troughs designed

to catch rainwater.

A number of young trees were already growing on the site and these were incorporated into the overall design to give an effect similar to that of a Japanese Zen garden. 


A selection of limestone blocks had been supplied by a local stonecutter for the princely sum of £40 (including delivery), and Maurice began chipping away at these on the morning of July 17.

The weather was excellent, and already local residents were taking an interest in the work as they passed to and from the town. Nonetheless there were a couple of minor hiccoughs inevitably, it seemed, at this stage of the project. Firstly, word came from the Co. Council that the site was NOT now available for a sculpture garden or any other such scheme. After bodies had been resuscitated, queries were frantically transmitted down the telephone lines until it finally emerged that the Council had confused our little patch with the main housing site. Maurice chipped on.

After a few more days the heat was such that productivity slowed down, and then news filtered through that a circus would soon be setting up in the main field, thus interrupting progress even more. At this point Maurice decided to bring some power tools onto the site; and was delighted to be allowed to plug into the ESB office supply next door.

On July 31 a JCB arrived on site to clear the top sod from the garden area and shortly after the area was covered over with gravel, thus defining the space. (Later a further load of gravel was added and the area extended as far as the public footpath).

Maurice at work


The sculpture garden was (in)formally launched on the evening of August 2, 1984. About 50 people-local residents, visitors and children-assembled in the gar- den at dusk for a simple wine and cheese party. And dispensing with the formal speeches, Maurice instead handed out the following explanatory text:

"Stone is the main material used, representing man's (earthly) soul or spirit, while the tool-marks show man's crude attempts to shape his own destiny.

The work is centred around falling rain which represents the forces encountered in man's everyday life.

The water is trapped and channelled into containers which depict the containment and release of experiences and frustrations.

From this process knowledge can be obtained, held and released, thereby determining the individual's characteristics.

The symbols which are carved on the stone are only esoteric.

Eventually the water evaporates, representing the death of the soul.. and new beginnings."

Completed Sculpture Garden


A request has been made to the Co. Council to occasionally spread weed killer over the gravelled area but to date no response has been forthcoming. The sculptor himself was of the opinion that there is no reason why weeds shouldn't be allowed to grow naturally among the pillars. However, the committee feels that it should be kept clear, and perhaps even kerbed to further define the space and maintain a profile in the area, at least for the near future.


Clare County Council ESB, Ennistymon Michael McTigue

Voluntary Service International Arts Office Staff

Una McCarthy.

subs@thecourthousegallery.com April 15, 2024
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