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Controversial €30,000 Púca statue given new home after Ennistymon 'hullabaloo'

The statue’s creator, Aidan Harte, welcomed the fact that the Púca finally found a home.

An image of what the Púca will look like once finished
An image of what the Púca will look like once finished

CLARE COUNTY COUNCIL announced today that a controversial statue will be erected near the village of Carron in the Burren after it was rejected by the people of Ennistymon because of its appearance.

Plans to place the statue in Ennistymon were scrapped in January after months of controversy and objections from locals, including a parish priest denouncing the bronze statue during Sunday mass.

Clare County Council then began seeking expressions of interest from other north Clare communities to host the two-metre tall equine artwork.

The €30,000 commission for the statue formed part of a significant capital project investment to increase visitor dwell time in Ennistymon and to enhance the appearance of the town.

Fáilte Ireland allocated €500,000 towards the now nearly completed capital project, with the local authority providing an additional 25% match funding.

The council confirmed today that two applications from Michael Cusack Centre and the Ballyvaughan Community Development Group presented their case for hosting the artwork to an independent panel of judges.

The Michael Cusack Centre is an exhibition centre commemorating the founder of the GAA, Michael Cusack, and based in the thatched cottage where Cusack was born during the Great Famine.

The judges said: “Michael Cusack Centre demonstrated compatibility to bringing the Púca to its natural home, confirming the interpretative element and story that will be told through the development of an educational aspect to the visitor attraction providing information on the Irish tradition and folklore collection of the Púca.”

There is also a proposal from the Michael Cusack Centre to host an annual Samhain/Púca Storytelling Festival on November 1st to celebrate new beginnings and possibilities with a programme of events ranging from the academic to children’s art.

The statue’s creator, Aidan Harte, welcomed the fact that the Púca finally found a home.

“After last year’s hullabaloo all Ireland knows the Púca’s troublemaking reputation is well deserved but now at last people can go see The Scare from Clare for themselves. Of course, anyone brave enough to rub the Púca’s toe will have seven years’ luck.

“And as for the locals who kindly gave my lovely horse a home, they’ll have good luck on tap – hospitality is gold to The Good Folk.”

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Following last year’s controversy regarding the statue, Ennistymon launched an online consultation to determine whether the town would host it.

Out of over 670 votes, 55% of people voted against it and the words ‘grotesque’, ‘imaginative’, ‘evil’, ‘humorous’, ‘frightening’, ‘refreshing’, and ‘eye-sore’, were frequently used in the survey by locals.

When Harte found out that Ennistymon didn’t want the statue he told RTE’s Drivetime that there were “no hard feelings”.

“The Púca is a lesser-known character from Irish folklore. He’s like the leprechaun and the banshee in that he’s a solitary figure. The trick he mainly plays is to way-lay travellers coming home from the pub with a few jars in them. Depending on how he likes people, he takes them off to fairyland. Maybe he’s getting a taste of his own medicine.”

About the author:

Gordon Deegan

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