06 Oct 2022

Biggest sculpture in Laois to be launched today for Culture Night

Biggest sculpture in Laois to be launched today for Culture Night

Image of final sculpture for Portlaoise

One of the biggest events in Laois today for Culture Night is the official launch of a monumental piece of sculpture in Portlaoise that will stand for generations to come.

‘Protectour’ is a large permanent artwork beside O'Moore Park on the Abbeyleix Road, and marks the gateway to Portlaoise town, created by Wicklow artist James Hayes.

The towering archway references the square shape of the historic Old Fort in Portlaoise, whilst celebrating sport and participation next to the county GAA grounds, and creating a landmark for the future as the town grows.

The artwork was commissioned by Open Competition under the Government Per Cent for Art scheme by Laois County Council.

The launch of the Protectour sculpture is on Culture Night 23 September at 4.30pm.

The launch will be led by Laois Arts Officer Muireann Ní Chonaill, with speakers including John Mulholland CE, Cathaoirleach Thomasina Connell, Sculptor James Hayes.

Piper Joseph Byrne will play The High Kings of Laois, with all invited to Kelly Lou Café next door for light refreshment afterwards. 

Accompanying the "portal" are seven smaller forms curving around it, representing the seven septs of Laois; O'Devoy (O'Deevy), O'Doran, O'Dowling, McEvoy, O'Kelly, O'Lalor and O'Moore. These are the original Gaelic clans that were then "transplanted" out of Laois to Munster and Connaught.

The sculpture also contains a time capsule. James Hayes, with assistance from the Laois Arts Office engaged with a number of local interest groups and schools during the Covid pandemic to create and gather material for a time capsule that is now hidden away inside the artwork. 

James Hayes is an established sculptor from Canada now living in Ireland with many public, corporate & private sculptures to his name.

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