Davin sculpture design impresses Carrick’s mayor as GAA top names show their support for memorial

Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

A planning application to erect a nine foot statue in honour of GAA co-founder Maurice Davin outside Davin Park in Carrick-on-Suir is due to be submitted to the local Town Council in the next week.

And the Maurice Davin sports and cultural festival during which the monument will be unveiled, has been moved forward a month to the June Bank Holiday Weekend next year to coincide with the town’s annual Clancy Brothers Music & Arts Festival.

Tipperary hurling greats Eoin Kelly and John Leahy, Manager of the All-Ireland winning Tipperary Minor Football team and Tipperary Person of the Year Dave Power and GAA County Board Chairman Sean Nugent were among the senior GAA figures, who visited the clubrooms at Davin GAA Club last week to view the designs and a miniature replica of the proposed limestone monument and show their support for the project.

They were joined by Mayor of Carrick-on-Suir Cllr Patsy Fitzgerald, many curious local residents and representatives of many of Carrick-on-Suir’s other sporting organisations.

The plans for the monument were put on public display at the GAA club for three hours on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 29 to give members of the public an opportunity to view them and put any questions to sculptor Barry Wrafter and members of the Maurice Davin Memorial Committee, which includes representatives of the town’s three GAA clubs, relatives of Maurice Davin, Eoin Kelly and Labour Sen. Denis Landy.

The event was organised after several members of Carrick-on-Suir Town Council accused the Memorial Committee at their monthly meeting of failing to consult the public and local councillors about the project.

Councillors decided at their May meeting to invite a representative of the Memorial Committee to address them about the proposed statue at a workshop scheduled for last Monday but the Committee decided instead to organise its own public consultation event and invited Town Council members as well as members of the public to attend.

Mayor of Carrick-on-Suir Cllr Patsy Fitzgerald said he was very pleased and delighted with the public consultation session and praised the Maurice Davin Memorial Committee for the “tremendous” work it has done to date.

He was also very impressed with the design for the Maurice Davin sculptor. “I think it’s absolutely fantastic. The statue will be an extremely good likeness to Maurice Davin.

“It’s good for the town to acknowledge the role Maurice Davin played in Irish society for many, many years. I am really, really pleased this is going ahead and they have a great programme lined up next June.”

The Mayor said he had no problem with the fact the Memorial Committee didn’t accept the Town Council’s invitation to address councillors about its plans at the Town Hall.

“I am very happy with the way they have brought the project to the public. There was an open invitation to everybody to come and view the plans and I have no issue with the fact that they didn’t come before the Town Council.”

Maurice Davin Memorial Committee Chairman Cllr Bobby Fitzgerald said he was very pleased with the positive public response to their plans but expressed disappointment that apart from the Mayor no other members of the Town Council came to view the plans.

“It’s childish behaviour and at the end of the day they are only leaving themselves down,” he said.

He said the Committee planned to submit to the Town Council within the next week, the planning application seeking permission to erect the Kilkenny limestone statue outside Davin Park next to the existing plaque honouring Maurice Davin, who was the GAA’s first president and a renowned athlete.

Meanwhile, the Committee has changed the date of the Maurice Davin sporting and cultural festival at which the monument will be unveiled to the June Bank Holiday Weekend next year due to GAA match fixtures difficulties with the May Bank Holiday Weekend.

Cllr Fitzgerald said the Memorial Committee now hopes to secure funding from the GAA Central Council for the statue and festival and due to the interest in the miniature model of the proposed statue they plan to issues these replicas to anyone, who makes a significant donation to the Maurice Davin Memorial Fund.

At the public consultation afternoon, Cllr Fitzgerald thanked STDC, the Davin GAA Field Committee for allocating the site for the statue; Town Clerk Michael O’Brien, Jimmy Flynn of Jimmy Flynn & Associates Architectural Services and Senator Denis Landy for their expertise, input and helpful advice.

Tipperary GAA County Board Chairman Sean Nugent welcomed the project and pledged full support from the County Board.

He said the GAA flourished under Maurice Davin’s leadership and has gone on to become the greatest amateur organisation in the world.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan, one of the councillors critical of the Memorial Committee at the Town Council’s recent meeting, said she didn’t attend the public consultation afternoon because the invitation she received stipulated she was being invited as a private individual and not as a town councillor.

She felt this was insulting as she took her position as a public representative very seriously and she couldn’t just take that hat off for such an event, particularly when the Committee included a Labour senator and its chairperson was a county councillor.

Cllr Cooney Sheehan stressed she believed the idea for the statue and festival was very good. All she had wanted was for the Committe to give an outline of their plans to the Town Council, which manages the town. She accepted it was the Memorial Committee’s privilege not to take up the Council’s invitation to address councillors about its plans.