Residents and visitors to Birr over the past few weeks will have noticed a column appearing at Woodlands, on the Tullamore Road into Birr. This is the first phase of a new sculpture being erected which will be completed during Vintage Week.
Last year, under the Birr Public Realm Plan, Offaly County Council ran a competition for a new ‘gateway’ sculpture for Birr, one which would reflect Birr’s rich history and vibrant cultural life. Shortlisted models were put on public display which exercised much discussion, interest and enthusiasm for the idea. The most popular submission and the one the selection panel felt responded to the brief most innovatively, was by artist Ann Meldon-Hugh (from Kells) entitled ‘Looking to the Future’
From Aug 7 th , the column will be wrapped with figures cut from polished stainless steel which reflect the cultural activity of the town, from sport, to music and dance. On top of the pillar will be a young figure looking through a hand held telescope, representing ‘looking to the future’ and a direct reference to Birr’s historical telescope.
Artist Ann Meldon-Hugh was keen to use as many local resources as possible and Banagher Concrete and Bloomfield Construction have been involved in the project. Speaking of the opportunity the artist said “From the beginning I was trying to reflect the spirit of Birr and to take on board the feedback from the local community. I really enjoyed meeting people in Birr and in particular the Art Department of the St. Brendan’s Community School who made me very welcome and were very helpful and encouraging with their input. I hope that the piece will come to be loved by the local community and that it will lift their spirits and make people smile as they drive or walk by and for visitors, that they get a sense of Birr’s rich cultural past, present and future.”