AFTER MUCH CONTROVERSY, An Púca will be officially unveiled in North Clare this weekend.
At midday on Saturday which is also International Fairy Day, the Púca will be finally let loose on the people of Clare. The Michael Cusack Centre in Carron which is the home of the founder of the GAA will now house the ‘Scare of Clare’.
‘Púca, Púca, Is Mise an Púca’ will be the inscription on the limestone plinth, a simple approach given the roller-coaster ride that has brought the mythical creature to the Burren. Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF) is tipped to have the honour of unveiling the statue.
Saturday’s event comes over a year on from the initial furore which saw the people of Ennistymon tear down the 2m tall bronze art piece, designed by Aidan Harte, before it was even put up.
Ennistymon priest, Fr Willie Cummins from the altar described the Púca as “sinister”, a petition presented to Clare County Council contained 263 signatures from Ennistymon against the €30,000 statue.
Members of the Council’s Arts Office had selected the Púca as the winning entry of nineteen submissions where the adjudication panel comprised of a community representative, an independent artist and a project manager for a €500,000 scheme aimed at revitalising Ennistymon.
Consultancy firm, Connect the Dots were hired by the Council to conduct an online survey on what should be done with the sculpture. Of the 674 responses to the survey, 370 (55%) expressed dislike for the statue, which was variously described as “scary, dark, evil, unappealing, unpleasant, frightening, grotesque and vulgar.”
After the locals said no, a new expression of interest process commenced with the Michael Cusack Centre announced in May as the chosen location ahead of Ballyvaughan. Representations were also made to try bring the Púca to Newmarket-on-Fergus.
RTÉ Radio One broadcaster, Ray D’Arcy recently visited the Dublin foundry where Aidan was completing the final preparations. The broadcaster along with actor Chris O’Dowd, comedian Dara Ó Briain and MEP Mick Wallace (IND) are among the high-profile supporters of the artwork.
“When the row erupted, I did a double-take. The story has just taken on a life of its own,” Harte reflected. The Kilkenny native voiced his appreciation to the people of Carron for welcoming the Púca.
He quipped, “There might be an angry mob with pitchforks coming down the road, but hopefully the people of Carron will back me up. 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”.
To mark the new arrival, a Samhain/Púca Storytelling Festival is planned for November 1st to celebrate new beginnings and possibilities with a programme of events ranging from the academic to children’s art.