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Emotional day for Kilbaha sculptor

One of the country’s best-known footballers and soldiers, the late Dermot Earley, will remain in the public eye in his beloved County Roscommon thanks to the skills of a West Clare artist.

Kilbaha-based bronze sculptor, Seamus Connolly created the life size depiction of the late Dermot Earley, which was unveiled in Gorthaganny, Roscommon last Sunday.
Dermot was a former Roscommon footballer and chief of staff of the Irish Defence Forces.
President Mary McAleese and Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Seán McCann were among more than 2,000 who attended the ceremony.
Although Seamus Connolly never met Dermot Earley, he told The Clare Champion that he develops a personal relationship with everybody whom he sculpts.
“This happens with all of the pieces you do,” he explained. “You’re reading about the person so much and then you do the piece of sculpture and it’s hard to believe that they’re dead. It’s quite a lonely affair, the fact that they’re not there anymore, especially in the case of Dermot Earley because he had such charisma and also the fact that he died too young,” he added.
Seamus says that the sculpture of Dermot Earley, which took four months to create, was well received by his family.
“I got a fabulous reception. I had a long phone call from Mary Earley, Dermot’s wife on Tuesday thanking me. It’s just a lot of hard work. You have to have a good eye to know when the piece is finished and when it’s right but the rest of it is all grindingly hard work. There are no short cuts and no easy way to do it,” he said. 
The Earley family visited Seamus’ foundry in Kilbaha to view the bronze sculpture before it was fully completed.
“It’s nerve wracking when people first see a piece because remember it’s a snap shot in time. People have a million different expressions. He was a man who smiled a lot and that’s why in the sculpture I have him with a half smile,” he said.
The Kilbaha based sculpture says last Sunday’s unveiling was quite a sombre event.
“It was a very emotional day and unlike a lot of other openings, it was very solemn because he’s so recently dead. But also what surprised me was the level of emotion of his neighbours in Gorthaganny. They really loved him and are reduced to tears when they talk about him,” he revealed.
Seamus has previously created life size sculptures of actor Richard Harris and playwright John B Keane.
When he is in the middle of working on a piece, it’s all consuming.  
“It’s all I do and it’s all I do when I’m sleeping as well. It’s very hard not to live and breathe it at the same time. You’re worrying about it all the time, worrying about getting it right and all the details. And you’re trying to work out what’s going wrong. Something is catching your eye but you don’t exactly know what it is,” he explained.
The Dermot Earley sculpture was commissioned by the Gorthaganny Community Development Company. It now stands next to his family home, close to the primary school where his late father, Peadar served as principal for many years.


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