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'I was dodging a bullet a bit': Luke Kelly sculptor not surprised by double vandalisation

This is the sixth time Vera Klute’s Luke Kelly statue on Dublin’s Northside has been vandalised.

Luke Kelly statue on South King Street this morning.
Luke Kelly statue on South King Street this morning.
Image: RollingNews.ie

THERE HAVE BEEN calls for increased security after two sculptures of Luke Kelly – unveiled last year to mark the Dubliners singer’s 35th anniversary – were vandalised with white paint last night. 

Artist Vera Klute’s marble bust of Kelly on Guild Street on Dublin’s Northside has been vandalised five times in six months. 

Sculptor John Coll’s Luke Kelly statue on South King Street on Dublin’s Southside was also vandalised with white paint overnight. 

Coll told TheJournal.ie that he is not surprised his work was attacked.  

“I was kind of dodging the bullet a bit,” said Coll, considering Klute’s statue has been vandalised five times this year alone. 

“Unfortunately this is part and parcel of public sculpture, and you have to think about these things when you’re making them,” said Coll. 

“It’s sad. But it might be a product of the time we’re in,” said Coll. “The greatest security for a piece of sculpture is people [nearby]. South King Street, the last six weeks, has been devoid of people.”

“I just hope they were wearing masks because there’s so much CCTV around [that area],” said Coll, who described the damage to Luke Kelly on South King Street as “surface damage”.

“Bronze is so durable. It’s a matter of simply cleaning it off,” said Coll, who also sculpted Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan statues along Dublin’s Grand Canal and Royal Canal. 

011 Luky Kelly statues Luke Kelly statue on Guild Street being cleaned this morning. Source: RollingNews.ie

There have been calls recently to relocate Klute’s statue on Guild Street after multiple vandalisations.

In May, the Council said it was considering implementing direct CCTV coverage of Guild Street’s Luke Kelly, after it was vandalised for the fourth time this year. It also said enhanced lighting could be put in place  “to reduce the chance of this vandalism occurring again.”

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An Garda Síochána, meanwhile, said it is pursuing a “definite line of inquiry” regarding two instances of vandalisation on the statue over the past six months. It said charges before the courts were “imminent”. 

In a statement today, Gardaí said it is investigating both acts of vandalism last night. 

Independent Councillor Christy Burke said the Council should implement security measures immediately following last night’s vandalisation. 

“It’s a sick act of thuggery and vandalism,” said Burke, who said the Luke Kelly statue on Guild Street should not be relocated. 

“At the end of the day, if you move it it’d be like an eviction of Luke Kelly from where he was born and reared,” he said. 

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