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Broadcaster Ray Darcy got a sneak preview of the Púca before it makes its way to Clare for installation at The Michael Cusack Centre in Carron at 12pm on Saturday, June 25.

Broadcaster meets the Púca ahead of North Clare installation

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RTÉ Radio 1 star, Ray D’Arcy has predicted a warm welcome for the shape-shifting Púca when the controversial statue is installed in North Clare on Saturday week (June 25). 

The broadcaster has frequently expressed his fascination with the colourful controversy that saw the two-metre horse-headed figure ultimately rejected by the people of Ennistymon.

Sculptor Aidan Harte has spoken on the popular mid-afternoon radio show on a number of occasions since the debacle originally erupted in May of last year. In recent days, D’Arcy visited the Dublin-based foundry where the folklore figure has been cast in bronze, and even got to rub the toe of the Púca for luck. 

Now that the mischievous Púca has found his “forever home” at The Michael Cusack Centre, its creator expressed his optimism that the reaction of locals and visitors in Carron will be a positive one.

“The reaction most artists get to their work is apathy,” Mr Harte told Ray D’Arcy. “When the row erupted, I did a double-take. The story has just taken on a life of its own.”

 

The Kilkenny man, who trained as a sculptor in Italy described how he had eventually “broken up with Ennistymon”. “There were a few pots thrown,” he quipped. Thankfully, the good people of Carron have put their hands up.”

At the foundry at The North Wall in Dublin, the Púca is having it’s final adjustments made – including the tweaking of one of his ears. Dave O’Brien who owns the foundry gave the Ray D’Arcy Show a tour of the facility and explained the process of completing the 2m bronze statue, over seen by the sculptor. Mr O’Brien’s foundry recently completed the Utah Teapot in Smithfield. It also produced the Luke Kelly statue on St Stephen’s Green

Giving his own reaction to the piece to RTÉ, Mr O’Brien said: “It’s fantastic, I love it. I’m from a special effects background, so any of this wild whacky stuff I love.” Commenting on the prominent big toe on the Púca’s muscular right foot, Mr O’Brien predicted that it “will be polished up in no time from all the people rubbing it [for luck]”. 

Looking ahead to the installation of the statue at its new home, Mr Harte was optimistic about the response.

“There might be an angry mob with pitchforks coming down the road, but hopefully the people of Carron will back me up,” he said.

“We’ll leave the engine of the car running just in case. Storyteller Steve Lally will tell the stories of Púca. There are so many of them. A lot of people when they heard of the controversy mightn’t have heard about the Púca.”

Mr Harte also revealed that after thinking for some time about an inscription on the statue’s limestone plinth, that might capture the story of the controversy, he had opted to keep things simple. “It’s going to say: ‘Púca, Púca, Is Mise an Púca’.

Festivities for the unveiling of the Púca at The Michael Cusack Centre in Carron will get underway from 12pm on Saturday, June 25, a date that is known as International Fairy Day.

Last month, Clare County Council confirmed that centre had been selected, by independent judges, following a call for expressions of interest from North Clare communities interested in hosting the statue. 

In their citation, the judges said: …the operators of the Michael Cusack Centre demonstrated how there would be mutual added value to both the installation and the community-run visitor attraction, the location of which was historically named Poll a Phúca.”

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,” added the judges. 

Already, a Samhain/Púca Storytelling Festival is being planned for November 1 “to celebrate new beginnings and possibilities” with a programme of events ranging from the academic to childrens art.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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