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Wrafter sculpts hurling heritage celebration

A CLARE man has been commissioned to create a sculpture that will celebrate Kilkenny’s hurling heritage.
Of course, Kilkenny have dominated the game for years now, winning eight of the last ten All-Irelands but the piece is not to commemorate this generation per se.

The model Wrafter has designed shows three players contesting possession, with one towering over the other two, catching the ball. At 4.2 metres in height, it will be a towering piece and should be ready around the end of next year.

Inviting submissions, Kilkenny City Council said, “While no specific subject, person or action is articulated by the client, the sculpture is required to reflect the undeniable strengths and unique identity of Kilkenny hurling, its sense of achievement, its continuity and its ties to the entire community of the county”.

In a written submission to the city council,  Barry Wrafter said, “The brief for a sculpture to honour Kilkenny’s hurling heritage has inspired me to come up with a dynamic and inspiring design.

“As Kilkenny hurling has no equal in Ireland and it’s fame has stretched far beyond these shores, I have put forward a particularly strong design as I am eager to win this competition.

“I want this sculpture to be my definite masterpiece, a work of art that becomes linked with my name for my skills at stone carving and a testament to Kilkenny’s hurling prowess.

“This sculpture will be known all over Ireland so I think an outstanding design is needed to reflect that, that’s why I want to make the most inspiring work of art in the country.”

He promised a sculpture that would be iconic. “My sculpture is a tall, large format so it will be highly visible. It has no hidden meaning to it, it is what it is, so it’s instantly accessible to the public and will become a symbol of civic pride for the community.

“To elaborate, this sculpture will be an iconic visual landmark in the centre of Kilkenny City and it will be made in local Kilkenny-cut limestone.”

As of yet it hasn’t been decided where the sculpture will go, but the council has identified four possible locations.

For those who know the city these are the Parade, the Canal Square, the intersection of High Street and Patrick Street in an area to be provided under an imminent public realm improvement project; the space at the junction of Kieran Street and High Street.”

John Mulholland of Kilkenny City Council said the net was cast widely for a suitable design.

“We made contact with several sculptors and people associated with sculpting festivals around the country and we had an invited list. We started off with 18 and it was whittled down to five and then an assessment panel decided on the most favourable submission.”

Regarding the sculpture he said, “It’ll be done in limestone with the black and amber shown as a different texture, with a lighter grey and a darker grey.

“It’ll be about 4.2 metres high, so it’s a significant piece. The height of an ordinary ceiling is 2.4 metres so it’s nearly two metres onto that, from the ground to the tip of it.”

Martin Brett is Mayor of Kilkenny. He said while the sculpture is not in honour of the current multi All-Ireland winning side, their success encouraged the council to go for such a project.

“The fact that the current team are the most successful and probably the greatest team anyone has probably seen sparked the whole operation.

“Hurling is ingrained in the people of Kilkenny, it’s part of our lives, almost a second religion.”

Speaking to The Clare Champion, Barry Wrafter said he expects the sculpture will take him about 18 months to complete. At the moment the stone is being cut for it and he hopes to get going in about three weeks time.


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