THE MATER PLOT OR THE FOUR MASTERS PARK BESIDE ST. JOSEPH’S CHURCH [BERKELEY ROAD – ECCLES STREET]
The Four Masters’ Park is a small green park on Berkeley Road in the heart of the North inner-city; one of the very few. The space was given by the Sisters of Mercy for the benefit of the local community.
I originally assumed that this was a Public Park but as I been unable to gain access for at least five or six years I now believe that it must be private or access is limited. It is of interest because it features the Healing Hands Sculpture and a large “Four Masters” Celtic cross.
The current plan for the new MetroLink in Dublin is to consume this park for the new metro station. Less than 100 metres away from the park is a station already built under the Mater Hospital . This was a part of the old Metro North plan. €20 million was spent on installing a station box beneath the new adult hospital. The Metro North enabling works were completed in 2013 under the Mater Whitty Building by BAM Contractors Ltd on behalf of the Railway Procurement Agency. https://www.thejournal.ie/mater-metrolink-metro-north-nta-dublin-4585274-Apr2019/
The Healing Hands sculpture is by Tony O’Malley. Tony O’Malley (25 September 1913 – 20 January 2003) was an Irish artist. He was born in Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland. O’Malley was a self-taught artist, having drawn and painted for pleasure from childhood. He worked as a bank official until contracting tuberculosis in the 1940s. He began painting in earnest while convalescing and, though he did at first return to bank work, he continued to paint and in 1951 he began exhibiting his work.
The Healing Hands is a hollow bronze hand patterned sphere containing an eternal flame and supported on a squat tree-trunk style pedestal. It was erected in 2000 to celebrate the third millennium of the birth of Christ. This sculpture is intended to symbolise the healing ministry of Christ which continues through the care of the staff of the neighbouring Mater Hospital which was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1861.
Four Masters Memorial (1876)
By James Cahill (d.1890)
Commissioned by Sir William Wilde (1815-1876)
This high cross on a large plinth commemorates the Franciscan friars of Donegal town, who between 1632 and 1636 compiled from early sources a history of the ancient kingdom of Ireland which became known as the Annals of the Four Masters.
The Annals are chronicles of the medieval history of Ireland. Sir William Wilde (father of Oscar Wilde) was the chief instigator of the memorial to the four writers who created the Annals. Wilde was an eye and ear surgeon and an antiquarian, who took an active role in sculptural commissions in Dublin. He was passionately interested in the history of Ireland and was a very active member of the Royal Irish Academy, hence the theme of this sculpture.
James Cahill was born in Delvin, Westmeath. On the death of his father, a builder, his mother moved to Dublin, and he became a pupil in the Royal Dublin Society School, where he won prizes in 1851 and 1852. He sent a sculptural group (part of a marble monument executed for the Presentation Convent in Wexford) to be exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1852, and then went to Rome where he remained for a few months.
On his return to Dublin in 1853 he entered Hogan’s studio, where he worked as a pupil and assistant until 1858. He executed a number of works for churches and also portrait busts and statues. His most important production was the statue of Daniel O’Connell, erected in Ennis in 1865. His works appeared in the Royal Hibernian Academy at intervals between 1856 and 1886. He died in Dublin on 28th October, 1890, aged about 60, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.