COMMUNITIES across North Clare have until March 24 to stake their claim for a chance to host the now famous statue of the mythical Púca.
Last month, a majority of residents of Ennistymon rejected the planned sculpture, following a long-running controversy over the nature of the design as well as the public consultation process. After the Council confirmed the change of plan, applications are now being accepted from other areas interested in giving a home to the two-metre high bronze artwork.
The local authority this Thursday publicised a list of criteria that communities will need to meet in order to be considered as the new home of the Púca.
For the moment, applications will only be considered from the North Clare Electoral Area and details of the exact location as well as written consent from the landowner must be provided.
In addition, applicants must show “demonstrable community buy-in” through meetings and surveys. They must also prove they can create a link between the Púca and their area, as well as their tourism activities.
While this half-man, half-horse won’t be in need of fodder, communities must also convince the Council that they have the ability to look after and maintain the artwork.
Sculptor Aidan Harte told The Champion that after the “bruising” experience of the initial rejection of the Púca, he is heartened by the response of other North Clare communities.
“The good news is Púca isn’t off to the glue factory,” he confirmed. Mr Harte credited the Council’s Director of Rural Development with allaying his concerns that the project might never see the light of day.
“Leonard Cleary convinced me that my fears of Púca languishing in some dusty warehouse were unfounded and that I can cast the bronze with confidence. It’ll take a few months but he could be standing proud by Midsummer’s Night. Wouldn’t that be appropriate!”
The Kilkenny native, who has studied sculpture in Florence, has also been lending his expertise to school children in the county. He gave an art class at Rineen National School and will also give a sculpture workshop locally.
“This spirit of welcome, after a somewhat bruising year, is heartening,” he said. “I only want Púca to go where he’s wanted, but I know that the exaggerations and controversy has created a few Púca sceptics, so I’m happy to speak in any Clare town that cares to invite me.”
Clare County Council has confirmed that the applications process is underway with ads in this week’s Champion. Application forms are available on Clarecoco.ie and in the libraries, in hard copy form, in North Clare.
Originally proposed for Lower Church Hill, Ennisytmon, as part of a capital project supported by Fáilte Ireland and aimed at increasing visitor dwell time in the town, the €30,000 Púca was ‘paused’ last May after the public backlash.
In January, the Council revealed the results of a public consultation process and its intention to offer the piece to another area.
The sculpture has been tipped as having huge potential to boost tourism, particularly in light of the high-profile public debate it has already generated, with actors, historians, comedians and an MEP among those who rallied to its defence. An alternative artwork is to be devised for Ennistymon.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 065 6864146.