Drawings by Dean Kelly
Trim town contains a number of public artworks, many commissioned in the recent decades, financed by public and private groups. These public works of art are an integral part of the urban fabric of Trim town, enriching the sense of place and the physical beauty of the natural environment. This leaflet gives a flavour mainly of the more modern pieces.
Some of the public works were created by Meath County Council though the Per Cent for Art Scheme which allows institutions of the state to allocate a certain portion of the costs of the construction costs of a project to finance a work of art. These pieces include King and Queen, Cross Sundial and The Bell.
King and Queen by Ronan Halpin
Location: Trim Ring Road
The artist was inspired by the mythological site at nearby Tara, traditionally the seat of the High Kings of Ireland. The Hill of Tara was central to the political and pagan life of the Celts. The nearby castle at Trim was also visited by the kings of England. The bronze sculptures stand on the roadside and the nearby trees and vegetation have grown and regularly threaten to cover them.
In 1992 as part of the Per Cent for Art Ronan Halpin was commissioned by Meath County Council for ‘The King and Queen’ for the Trim by-pass. Ronan Halpin was born in 1958. He attended the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and completed his studies at the Yale School of Art, Newhaven, Connecticut. USA. In 1985 he returned to Dublin where he worked for a number of years before transferring his studio to Drogheda and in 1998 he moved to Achill Island. His works are in the private collections of former Taoiseach, John Bruton, former US President Bill Clinton and the poet, Seamus Heaney.
Máel Sechnaill by James McKenna
Location: Fr. Teahon Park.
Presented to Trim by Bord Failte on winning the Tidy town’s competition for a third time.
Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill was king of Mide and High King of Ireland. He achieved a great victory over the Vikings of Dublin at the battle of Tara in 980. Brian Boru took over as High King in 1002 but Máel Sechnaill returned as High King following Brian’s death at the battle of Clontarf in 1014. Máel Sechnaill ruled until his death in 1022.
The sculptor, James McKenna, 1933-2000, was born in Dublin and educated at the National College of Art and Design. His first exhibition was held in 1957. He was a founding member of both the Independent Artists Group and the Sculptors’ Society of Ireland. McKenna was a prominent figure in the visual arts and in literary circles from the 1960s writing his first play “The Scatterin” in 1959, described as “the world’s first rock musical.” His work “Oisin Caught in a Time Warp”, a giant horse and rider was exhibited to mark Ireland’s first Presidency of the E.U.
Our Lady of Trim by Christopher Ryan
Location: Maudlin’s Cemetery.
In medieval times St Mary’s Abbey was a place of pilgrimage as it held a wooden statue of “Our Lady of Trim.” In 1444 a list of miracles attributed to the statue were recorded. There are two stories as to what happened the statue. During the Reformation many statues and object of veneration were destroyed including the statue at Trim. Another story suggests that the statue survived only to be destroyed in 1640s during conflict at that time.
The statue was commissioned by a local committee in 1976. Christopher Ryan of the Barrenhill Gallery, Howth, designed the statue which was cast in bronze by the Dublin art Foundry. The Barrenhill Gallery was operated by Elizabeth and Christopher Ryan from 1970 to 1976 at Barrenhill House, Bailey, Howth, Co. Dublin.
A Hunger for Knowledge by Joey Burns
Location: Castle Street.
In the summer of 2007 Joey Burns worked this two thousand piece of bog oak in situe to produce a Hunger for Knowledge. The inscriptions relate to the work of William Rowan Hamilton on quaternions. The bog oak came from Gallon Bog, Co. Cavan, close to Carnaross Co. Meath.
The Salmon of Knowledge is a well loved traditional tale. The salmon was a magical fish which lived in a pool in the river Boyne. The first person to taste the fish would acquire all the knowledge of the world. An elderly bard, Finnegas, devoted his live to catching the fish and eventually hauled the salmon out onto the riverbank. Exhausted by the struggle he set his apprentice, Fionn, to cook the fish. As the fish cooked a blister arose on the side and Fionn thrust in his thumb to burst the blister. As he did so a particle of the fish burned onto his thumb and he naturally reacted by putting it into his mouth and thereby acquired all the knowledge of the world. Fionn later went on to be head of the high king’s army and a great hero.
Joey Burns grew up along the Cavan-Meath border and spent his early years touring as a performing musician and studying the art of wood carving. He facilitated two large-scale sculpture projects to coincide with Cavan town hosting the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. In 2011 Burns was commissioned by Cavan County Council to produce a series of sculptures in Dún a Rí Forest Park, Kingscourt. Burns has been commissioned to produce work for visiting dignitaries and Irish Taoisigh.
Cross Sundial by Michael Verdon
Location: Trim Branch Library, High Street.
This steel piece was completed in 1989 for Trim Branch Library. The semi-spherical sundial is painted yellow to reflect the sunlight. The piece is in the rear garden of the library on High Street.
Michael Verdon was born in Dublin in 1951. He studied sculpture in the National College of Art and Design, Dublin and the Dublin Art Foundry. He participated in the Arklow Sculpture Symposium in 1983 and has exhibited regularly in group exhibitions nationally.
The Bell by Vivienne Roche
Location: Trim Fire Station
This steel and bronze work was completed in 1990-91. Unfortunately the bronze bell was stolen and remains missing.
Vivienne Roche was born in Cork in 1953 and attended the Crawford School of Art before completing her studies at the School of the Museum of Fine arts, Boston. She was elected a member of Aosdana in 1996 and a member of the R.H.A. in 2004. She was instrumental in the establishment of the National Sculpture Factory in Cork, and served as a member of the Arts Council from 1993 to 1998. She lives and works near the sea in Co. Cork.
At the End of the Day by Patrick Barry
Location: Knightsbrook Roundabout
The statue of a man ringing a bell was created by Patrick Barry. The title of the piece is “At the end of the Day” and consists of a zinc bell tower, a copper bell and a limestone figure. This piece of sculpture consists of a male figure in historic garments ringing a bell. The bell represents a common theme that runs throughout the heritage and architecture of the town. This is a per cent for art scheme project, funding for which is being made available through the Trim Water Scheme.
Wellington Column by James Bell and Thomas Kirk
A Corinthian column, 75 feet high, was erected in honour of the Duke of Wellington at the corner of the Fair Green in Trim. The inscription reads “This column was erected in the year 1817 in honour of the illustrious Duke of Wellington by the grateful contributions of the people of Meath.” The monument was erected on this site because Wellington resided nearby while M.P. for Trim.
The column was designed by a local architect, James Bell of Navangate, and the statue of the Duke is by Thomas Kirk. Thomas Kirk, born in Cork in 1777 was trained as a sculptor in Dublin and was an original member of the Royal Hibernian Academy. He executed a statue of Nelson for Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin and a number of other notables in Limerick and Greenwich.
Other works by sculptors appear in Trim. The reredos of St. Patrick’s Church are by the Pearse brothers. There is a metal salmon created by MOT on the riverside in front of St. Mary’s Abbey. There is a carved tomb known as “The Tomb of the Jealous Man and Woman” at Newtown. Along the river walk to Newtown there are seats bearing lines from the poetry of William Rowan Hamilton.