A STATUE jokingly referered to as ‘The Scare from Clare’ has been cast in bronze, with plans to unveil it on Midsummer’s Night in North Clare.
The Púca garnered international headlines after a ferocious rejection by the town of Ennistymon. In recent days, The Michael Cusack Centre won the competitive process to host the horse-headed folklore figure.
Sculptor Aidan Harte confirmed the piece is on course to take up residence in Carron soon. “The bronze is fully cast,” he said. “We assembled it this week in the foundry. He’s a healthy baby boy, weighing half a ton. Next we’ll be chasing metal and applying a patina and wax polish. The stone plinth is getting knocked into shape as the site is prepared this month. If there are no surprises – what’s the bets? – I’m aiming for a June 24 unveiling. That’s Midsummer’s night, a time for mischief, magic and making merry.”
Commenting on the divisive row that ended plans to install the Púca in Ennistymon, Mr Harte was philosophical. “Every superhero needs an origin story. Ennistymon gave Púca a cracker,” he said.
“Whatever way you count them, Ennistymon fell short of a céad míle fáilte so it’s best my lovely horse goes elsewhere – after all, statues come and go but neighbours are forever. The County Council plans giving Ennistymon another statue so everybody’s a winner – I heard a nice one of Maureen O’Hara has just come onto the market. And if Father Willie wants to burn an effigy of the Púca to celebrate, my rates are quite reasonable.”
Mr Harte expressed delight at Púca’s new home: “Micheal Cusack was no stranger to controversy. Púca and himself will have good craic trading war stories. And if The Scare from Clare gets too rowdy, Mr Cusack’s blackthorn stick will teach him manners fairly lively”.
The Michael Cusack Centre’s Cathaoirleach, Dónal Ó hAiniféin welcomed the decision of the independent panel who assessed expressions of interest in the statue. “We are delighted that our bid to host the Púca artwork installation was successful,” he said.
“The Púca will be very welcome to Poll an Phúca in Carron at the Michael Cusack Homestead. Tá áthas an domhain orainn fáilte abhaile go Poll a’ Phúca a chur roimh an píosa ealáine ar leith seo. Táimid cinnte go mbeidh an Púca ar a sháimhín só anseo.”
Mr Ó hAiniféin outlined some plans to capitalise on the presence of the two-metre statue.
“We look forward to the installation and the interpretation of the Púca and in creating a new Samhain/Púca Storytelling Festival at the Michael Cusack Centre on November 1 to facilitate a better understanding of the tradition and place of the Púca in Irish folklore, heritage and tradition,” he said.
“An innovative and inclusive programme of community events will be developed to celebrate the Púca for adults and children alike.”
Last week, Clare County Council confirmed that applications from The Michael Cusack Centre, Carron and Ballyvaughan Community Development Group were assessed by an independent panel. In response to a Freedom of Information request from The Champion, the Council said a total of three applications were received, but that one was incomplete.
As part of the adjudication process, representatives from Carron and Ballyvaughan presented their case.
In their citation, the judges said: “While both applicants put forward compelling arguments for hosting the sculpture, 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.
“There is also a proposal from the Michael Cusack Centre to host an annual Samhain/Púca Storytelling Festival on November 1 to celebrate new beginnings and possibilities with a programme of events ranging from the academic to children’s art.”
Commenting on the Ballyvaughan Community Development application to host the artwork, the judges stated: “The proposed location of the statue on community-owned land just outside the village of Ballyvaughan also scored highly. To locate the Púca within this location however, would be premature due to its position off a regional road and the lack of adequate pedestrian access to and lighting around the site.”
Originally proposed for Lower Church Hill, Ennisytmon, as part of a project supported by Fáilte Ireland and aimed at increasing visitor dwell time in the town, the €30,000 Púca was ‘paused’ in May of last year after a public backlash. In January, the Council announced its intention to offer the piece to another area. An alternative artwork is to be devised for Ennistymon. The Council confirmed that Púca is set to be erected in Carron in June.