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If you are visiting Galway, you may notice a striking sculpture on Father Griffin Road, near the Spanish Arch. It is called the Claddagh Icon, and it was created by John Coll, one of Ireland’s most prominent figurative sculptors. The sculpture was commissioned by Galway City Council in 2009, and it depicts a Galway Hooker (a traditional sailing boat) and a cormorant (a seabird) against the backdrop of the sun.

The Claddagh Icon is a tribute to the history and culture of the Claddagh, the former fishing village that is now part of Galway city. The Claddagh was once a separate community with its own customs and traditions, such as the famous Claddagh ring, which symbolizes love, loyalty and friendship. The Claddagh people were known for their skill and bravery in fishing, and they used the Galway Hooker as their main vessel. The Galway Hooker is characterized by its red sails, black hull and curved bow. It is still used today for racing and festivals.

The cormorant is another emblem of the Claddagh, as it was often seen perching on the boats or diving for fish. The cormorant is also associated with wisdom and protection in Celtic mythology. Some people believe that the cormorant in the sculpture is actually a seagull, which is another common bird in Galway. Either way, the bird represents the connection between the land and the sea, and the harmony between nature and human activity.

The sun behind the boat and the bird symbolizes hope and prosperity for the future of Galway. It also reflects the beauty and warmth of the city, which attracts many visitors and residents alike. The Claddagh Icon is a lovely piece of art that celebrates the rich heritage of Galway.


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Claddagh Icon Statue



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