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An image of the planned statue Gordon Deegan

Clare County Council pauses plans for Ennistymon Púca statue following backlash

Fr Willie Cummins denounced the planned sculpture as “sinister” from the altar at Sunday mass.

CLARE COUNTY COUNCIL has backed down in a row over its plans to install a €30,000 ‘Púca of Ennistymon’ sculpture in the town.

This follows the Council confirming yesterday that is has “paused” plans to install the pagan artwork at a site in the north Clare town “to enable a broader public engagement process to take place”.

The Council move follows parish priest of Ennistymon, Fr Willie Cummins denouncing the planned sculpture as “sinister” from the altar at Sunday mass.

Along with Fr Cummins hitting out at the plan, the Council’s planned Púca in recent days has faced a torrent of online criticism from north Clare residents while local senator, Martin Conway (FG) described the planned Púca statue as “offensive”.

Fr Cummins – who was celebrating mass in breach of the then government Covid-19 ban on public masses on Sunday – told mass goers “I fully object to this statue. There is something sinister behind it”.

Púca, which means spirit or ghost, is primarily a creature of Celtic folklore and was considered a bringer of both good and bad fortune and the Púca were said to be shape-changers, which could take the appearance of horses, cats and dogs.

At the end of the mass, Fr Cummins said: “With the help of God, many of us will join up and object to it.”

Fr Cummins told mass goers: “I love art, but this isn’t nice. Ennistymon has a lovely history and people. I totally object to this sculpture. Already 50 people have put their names down objecting to it.”

Speaking outside Church after mass, Fr Cummins was even more trenchant in his opposition against the planned Púca.

He said: “It will never be erected – I can guarantee you. It looks nasty.”

Images of the planned Púca have been circulating online amongst local residents in Ennistymon and yesterday, Senator Conway described the planned Púca as “an outrage”.

The Ennistymon based senator stated: “The Púca still puts the fear of God into old people and was a figure that was used to frighten people.

He stated: “This Púca has upset a lot of people. It is a fairy that a lot of people are wary about. It goes back to Pagan times.”

He argued: “The whole idea of putting a statue up to a fairy which has connotations to bad luck is inappropriate, disrespectful and offensive.”

He said: “The project should be stopped and abandoned.”

Senator Conway stated that a statue to poet and writer, Dylan Thomas to celebrate his links with the town would be far more appropriate.

Fianna Fail councillor, Shane Talty said yesterday that there is universal opposition against the planned sculpture.

He said: “We have asked the council to pause and revisit the process and the concept. There has been a lack of public consultation with the public and the council members.”

He stated: “The vast majority of comments on it have been negative and that can’t be ignored.”

A statement by the Council yesterday afternoon stated that it has paused plans for the Púca “following the local objections”.

The Council state that it “will engage in a listening process with the local community over the coming weeks”.

Earlier this year, the Púca was selected as the winning entry of 19 entries by the Council’s Arts Office where the adjudication panel comprised of a community representative, an independent artist and a project manager for a €500,000 scheme aimed at revitalising Ennistymon.

The scheme is aimed at increasing visitor dwell time in the town, as well as improving and developing signage, pedestrian access and significant additional car parking.

The Council stated that the Púca of Ennistymon artwork was inspired by Ennistymon’s equine heritage and Irish folklore.

The Council statement: “In light of the questions and concerns raised about the artwork Clare County Council says it has today paused the process and, instead, is initiating a public engagement process. Full details of the review will be publicised in due course.”

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