GEORGE WILLIAM RUSSELL Æ [MERRION SQUARE PUBLIC PARK]
This bust to commemorate the poet and artist George William Russell (1867-1935) was unveiled on the day of the 50th anniversary of Æ’s death.
George William Russell, who wrote under the pseudonym Æ, was an Irish nationalist, writer, editor, critic, poet, and painter, and a lead- ing light in the Co-operative Movement He was also a mystical writer and a personage of a group of devotees of theosophy in Dublin for many years. In around 1980, the maquette of this portrait bust emerged in the ownership of Donal Ó Murchadha who had rescued it in the 1940s from Jerome Connor’s Dublin studio following the death of the impoverished artist. It was brought to the attention of the Æ Commemoration Committee. The Co-operative Movement gathered the necessary resources to place this bronze bust in Merrion Square.
Born in Co. Kerry, Jerome Connor emigrated, with his family, to Massachusetts in 1888. He trained as a stone carver and moved to New York, where he became an accomplished sculptor. Throughout his life he worked on numerous public monument commissions in the United States and Ireland. In 1914 he was commissioned to produce a statue of the Irish nationalist Robert Emmet for the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He returned to Ireland in 1925 and regularly exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin and the Royal Academy, London.