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Cork council accepts €26,250 refund after Maureen O'Hara statue was 'not a good likeness'

The project started afresh with a different sculptor but “artistic differences” have arisen.

Maureen O'Hara in a scene from the 1957 movie 'Miracle On 34th Street'.
Maureen O'Hara in a scene from the 1957 movie 'Miracle On 34th Street'.
Image: 20th Century Fox

A LOCAL AUTHORITY sought a refund of a €33,000 grant after a statue of Hollywood star Maureen O’Hara proved “not a good likeness” and could not be used.

However, the council ended up accepting €26,250 and the unused statue, the cast bronze from which they believe will make up the difference.

Cork County Council had given Glengarriff Tourism and Development Association the grant for the project in November 2018. The statue of the Dublin-born actress was to be unveiled in the town, which had become O’Hara’s adopted home.

However, the sculpture subsequently proved “unacceptable” to the local authority and was not considered “suitable for installation”, according to internal records.

The records reveal Cork County Council had been given back €23,000 last December but of the remaining €10,000 – a chunk of money had already been paid out for the sculpture.

An internal email said: “Looking at this objectively, we were of the impression at an earlier stage that the entire €33,000 may be irrecoverable.

“I think to get back €26,250 is a reasonable outcome and I think we should close out the matter,” a council official said.

A senior colleague agreed with the proposal saying: “I would recommend that we accept this proposal on condition that the group transfer the existing statue (that is unacceptable) to Cork County Council.

That way, for the money that has been spent we have something to show for it. We paid €33,000, will get back €26,250 – difference €6,750 and we have €6,750 worth of bronze cast into a statue.

Director of Services Niall Healy responded saying: “Approved. Please proceed.”

The project has now started afresh with plans for a new statue to be cast by a different sculptor.

That had not been without issues either however, according to records from Cork County Council which said further “artistic differences” had arisen.

A note of a meeting said: “In recent conversation with the [local] group I have learned: that the [second] sculpture is not completed, and they have some artistic differences with the second sculptor.

They are now looking for a third sculptor to provide a statue; ground works for the statue have been put in place in Glengarriff since 2018.

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Cork County Council recommended however, that they stick with the second sculptor and get the statue completed once and for all.

An internal memo: “He [the second sculptor] has told me that he still has the model he produced, and he will cast it in bronze for the sum of €30,000.”

It added: “Because we went to market and got no response, we can negotiate with the sculptor without having to readvertise.”

The local authority ended up taking over the project entirely with records saying the highly respected sculptor Don Cronin had been asked to deliver the project.

Cork County Council said they wanted a Maureen O’Hara statue delivered to the community that would be a “fitting commemoration for this former valued and respected resident of the village”.

Asked about the latest records, which were released under FOI, Cork County Council said they had no further comment to make.

About the author:

Ken Foxe

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