The origins and the future of a sculpture park in Fitzgerald's Park Cork.
When Seamus Murphy's 'Madonna of the Twilight' failed to find a home in any of Cork's Catholic churches, his friends got together to raise money to buy it and present it to the city. When the Cork Corporation suggested placing the sculpture in Fitzgerald's Park, it fostered the idea of a permanent sculpture park.
A committee was established to expand the sculpture collection and since the beginning in 1959, they have added four more pieces. Murphy's bronze of Michael Collins was presented by a local businessman. Joseph Higgins's 'Boy with a Boat' is fittingly placed in the park's lake. A more hidden and somewhat controversial piece is the bronze female torso by Edward Delaney. It is hidden by shrubbery in summer and almost impossible to find.
A bronze figure of a dancing girl by Oisín Kelly unveiled in autumn 1966 was the last acquisition to the park. Money is scarce and acquisitions are low. The sculpture park committee is left to its own devices to find funding for such works and has not received any government support. Just five pieces of sculpture in eight years is a testament to the lack of funding available.
Sean Hendrick, who has been involved in the project since its beginning, says that the park is already an amenity to the citizens of Cork, an amenity which could be developed through the acquisition of sculptures. He acknowledges that the people of Cork are not very interested in the park but feels that the development of the sculpture park would create an interest among citizens. He also sees scope to expand the source of the sculptures from outside Ireland if the piece is deemed to be suitable.
Primarily, the idea is to have Irish sculpture in the park.
Mr Hendrick also refutes any claims that the park is some sort of charity for the sculptors. He sees sculptors in a different category to painters, who can transport their work more easily to find a buyer. With some sculptures weighing over a tonne, this is not always easy and can be extremely costly.
Bill O'Herlihy also asks Mr Hendrick about the positioning of the female torso sculpture which is almost hidden from view. Mr Hendrick agrees that it is in an unsuitable place and says that there are plans to place it in a more prominent position.
We certainly did not put the Delaney among the shrubs simply because it was the torso of a female.
Mr Hendrick concludes that the future of the park is dependent entirely on the amount of support it gets from the people. He claims that if three hundred people gave one pound a year, the committee would be in a position to acquire one piece of sculpture every year, with the support of the Arts Council.
A 'Newsbeat' report broadcast on 9 March 1967. The reporter is Bill O'Herlihy.