When she was 17 years old, Toni Marie Shields was asked to model for a statue to be the centrepiece of a regenerated Ballymum.
The resulting bronze sculpture entitled ‘Misneach’, the Irish word for courage, features a tracksuit clad Sheils riding a horse .
The artist John Byrne says of the statue
It’s the hero in everybody, the hero in the normal and the ordinary and it’s about courage.
At the unveiling of the sculpture outside Trinity Comprehensive School in Ballymun, Toni MarieSheils finally got to see herself immortalised in bronze and was happy with the result. When the proposed Metro North rail project is completed, it is planned to reposition the statue to the main street in Ballymun.
However not everybody wants to see the statue moved from its current location. Labour Councillor John Lyons believes the stature has huge potential to enforce negative stereotypes that people may have of the area.
In response Artistic Director of Axis, Ballymun Ray Yeates says
It was never the intention of the artist to represent anything about Ballymun, it was to ask a question or make a statement in such a way as people would think.
An RTÉ News report by Samantha Libreri broadcast on 17 September 2010.