Artist angered by council’s failure to protect Alfie Byrne seat
Andrew St Ledger said Dublin City Council neglected memorial and has ‘belittled’ his work
The Alfie Byrne memorial seat as it looks today (left) and how it looked shortly after completion.
The Alfie Byrne memorial seat at Clontarf in Dublin has been neglected and vandalised in recent years.
Born in Dublin in 1882, Alfie Byrne served 10 terms as lord mayor of Dublin and was a TD, senator and a Westminster MP.
The artist who created the Alfie Byrne monument in Clontarf has hit back at Dublin City Council for “belittling” his work.
The council is to decommission the Alfie Byrne memorial seat which faces Dublin Bay at the beginning of the Clontarf promenade because it considers the cost of its conservation and maintenance “excessive”.
The work erected by the council in 1999 to commemorate the 10 times lord mayor has been neglected and vandalised in recent years and its natural oak surface covered in thick layers of brown paint.
The council said it was now beyond repair. “The work is not considered to be of great artistic merit,” the council said. “The cost of maintenance or conservation required is considered excessive.”
Renowned woodcarver Andrew St Ledger said the council neglected the bench and inappropriately painted over the natural oak and allowed it to fall into a state of disrepair.
“They never really did maintain it. I requested that it be oiled once a year to maintain its natural oak finish. They’re saying now the cost of repair would be excessive, but I’d be interested to know how much they spent maintaining it.”
St Ledger, who also created the wooden figurehead for the Jeannie Johnston replica famine ship said he was not consulted by the council in relation to the decision to remove the memorial.
“I was always disappointed by their failure to maintain it. I’m not saying it’s a great work of art, but to belittle my work and say it’s not of any great artistic merit, when they commissioned it? They have failed in their duty and let it go to rack and ruin.”
The council’s dismissal of the monument was also an insult to the memory Alfie Byrne. St Ledger said he was “one of the few politicians who earned the respect of the people of Dublin” .
“I’d also like to know what they are going to do with it. I’d like the opportunity to have it resembled elsewhere. Or at least see the wood sustainably reused.”