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Miltown ready for Clancy statue

MILTOWN Malbay is known all over the country for the Willie Clancy Festival and a bronze sculpture of the famous musician will soon be unveiled in the middle of the town.

Sean Lenihan of the Miltown Malbay Tidy Towns group said a decision has been made on where it will go.

“The Tidy Towns were asked where would be the most suitable location for it. We came up with some ideas, we had a public meeting, it was put to the floor and there was unanimous agreement where it would be sited.”

It will be going on the Main Street, close to the photography shop and pharmacy.

He paid tribute to American couple Judith and Barry Merrill, who are sponsoring the statue. They are regular visitors to Clare and have a huge interest in traditional music.

Shane Gilmore designed the piece, which is now being bronzed and he outlined some of the background to it.

“I first met Judith and Barry Merrill about five years ago and I was introduced to them by Carmel Kenny, who owns Lahinch Art Gallery. At the time they commissioned me to create a life-size bronze statue of St Cecilia, the patron saint of music, such is their love of all forms of music.

“Judith and Barry are big fans of the Willie Clancy festival and all that is associated with the man. They came to me with the desire for the creation of a life-size statue of Willie playing his uileann pipes but, more importantly, depicting the personality of the man.”

He had to do a lot of research before really getting down to work. “I set about finding as much photographic, video and written information as I could and then started work on the life-size piece. Over a time span of about one year, I modelled the piece in brown clay. At the same time, I tracked down the Taylor set of uileann pipes belonging to Willie. I spent a few days photographing and measuring them and then back at my workshop I made a replica set in wood and other materials, along with the box that he stored them in, which I was told he made himself.

“I also modelled a bust of Willie Clancy. When near completion I showed this clay portrait to people who knew him and they were able to point out any changes that needed to be made to get a more realistic likeness.”

He said he has received support from numerous people and described the Merrills as the “most patient, supportive and generous patrons an artist could wish for”.

The next step is for the work to be cast in bronze, which is being done by Seamus Connolly and his assistant, Adam Pomeroy, in Kilbaha. The statue should be going up in the next few weeks.

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