Gerry Adams waxwork takes its place at peace process memorial

SF leader’s statue unveiled alongside those of Hume, Paisley, Ahern, Bruton and Major

Gerry Adams is the latest subject for wax sculptor PJ Hegarty who has spent four months trying to recreate the Sinn Féin man's likeness. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

In the bowels of the old armoury of the Bank of Ireland, a self-loathing figure Gollum guards the 12in thick entrance door to the vault where, in olden days, they kept guns and bullion.

As Gerry Adams strolls past the huge door, and then an inner iron gate, the fact it is a bank vault is pointed out.

“Oh,” he says, “I didn’t notice that.”

“Of all people not to see that!” his media adviser, Richard McAuley, remarks with a smile.

There are two Adamses in the vault room on this occasion – a wax one, and another, waxing lyrical.

The statue of the Sinn Féin president standing with former SDLP leader John Hume, the Rev Ian Paisley, former taoisigh Bertie Ahern and John Bruton and, to the rear, former British prime minister John Major, was officially unveiled yesterday at the National Wax Museum’s paean to the peace process.

Most accomplished

The wax representation of Mr Adams is by sculptor PJ Heraty, and is by far the most accomplished, in terms of capturing a likeness, of all those on show.

Photographers cram into the 13ftx13ft basement room in Dublin’s Foster Place, jostling for position as the real Adams (sporting a red tie with silver stripes and serious grey suit) poses beside his doppelganger (in a red tie with no stripes and serious grey suit). The likeness is uncanny.

“Where’s PJ?” asks the real Adams. “I think PJ has improved me. Of course, I’m in need of much improvement.”

Wax Adams just firmly clutches his signed copy of the Belfast Agreement and stares into the middle distance.

“So what do you think of yourself?” The Irish Times asks the real Adams.

“I’m very fond of myself,” he says, jocosely. “But PJ has improved me.”

Which bits?

“The bits you can’t see!”

‘Accidental experience’

He described the process of having a wax copy of him made as “an accidental experience” that was “just a bit of craic”.

An initial attempt to make a cast of his face at a rendezvous in Leinster House last summer had to be abandoned, but eventually he posed for the sculptor at the museum and had a mould made of his face from which Heraty cast the wax likeness now on display.

The subject was struck by the skill and attention to detail Heraty brought to his task, inserting the Sinn Féin leader’s many hairs - beard, eyebrows and crown - one by one.

“It was an interesting experience,” said Adams. “I was very taken just by the skill and the dedication and the forensic eye for detail that he brings to his work.”

‘Who knows?’

Some critics said Adams had more than one identity, a reporter remarked. Which one was on display? “Who knows?” he quipped in response.

Did he think he looked like Pierce Brosnan? “Pierce and I have a lot in common, as you know.”

After the photographers snapped their fill, the Sinn Féin leader remarked that he’d like to sneak back to the museum and take another look at the display, with the media gone.

Not much chance of that, over the next few weeks...