WINGED HORSE STATUE
If you ever visit the town of Athenry in Galway, you might notice a striking steel sculpture of a prancing winged horse on a column in the Castle Park. This is the Winged Horse Statue, a tribute to the poet Padraic Fallon (1905-1974) and his son Conor Fallon (1939-2007), who created the sculpture.
Padraic Fallon was born in Athenry, the son of a businessman and cattle-dealer. He attended University College Galway and later moved to Dublin, where he worked as a civil servant and wrote poetry in his spare time. He was associated with the literary revival of the 1930s and 1940s, along with writers like W.B. Yeats, Austin Clarke and Patrick Kavanagh. He published his first collection of poems in 1974, shortly before his death.
Conor Fallon was born in Dublin and became a self-taught painter and sculptor. He lived in Cornwall for a while, where he was influenced by the artist Denis Mitchell. He returned to Ireland in 1979 and became a prominent figure in the Irish art scene. He was elected to Aosdana, the Royal Hibernian Academy and received several commissions for public sculptures. He often used animals as motifs in his works, such as birds, fish and horses.
The Winged Horse Statue was commissioned by the Athenry Padraic Fallon Celebration Committee in 1992, as part of a poetry weekend that honoured the poet’s legacy. Conor Fallon generously donated the sculpture to the town of his father’s birth, as a gesture of gratitude and affection. The sculpture was unveiled by the Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, who was a friend and admirer of both Fallons.
The sculpture is made of flat cut steel that is shaped and bent to create a sense of movement and lightness. The winged horse is a symbol of poetic inspiration and imagination, as well as a reference to Pegasus, the mythical creature that sprang from the blood of Medusa. The column is influenced by Etruscan vases and Doric columns, creating a contrast between classical and modern elements. The sculpture stands out against the backdrop of the medieval castle and priory, as well as the natural scenery of trees, stream and sky.
The Winged Horse Statue is not only a beautiful piece of art, but also a testament to the bond between father and son, poet and sculptor, past and present. It is a reminder of the rich cultural heritage of Athenry and Galway, and an invitation to explore the works of two talented artists who left their mark on Irish literature and art.
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