THE CHILDREN OF LIR AT THE GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE PARNELL SQUARE DUBLIN
The Children of Lir is a legend from Irish mythology. It is a tale from the post-Christianisation period that mixes magical elements such as druidic wands and spells with a Christian message of faith bringing freedom from suffering.
Oisín Kelly was born as Austin Kelly in Dublin, the son of William Kelly, principal of the James Street National School, and his wife, Elizabeth (née McLean). He studied languages at Trinity College, Dublin. Until he became an artist in residence at the Kilkenny Design Centre in 1966, he worked as a teacher of Art, English, Irish and French from 1943 to 1964 at St Columba’s College, Dublin. He initially attended night class at the National College of Art and Design and studied briefly in 1948–1949 under Henry Moore.
He originally concentrated on small wood carvings and his early commissions were mostly for Roman Catholic churches. He became well known after he was commissioned to do a sculpture, The Children of Lir (1964), for Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance, opened in 1966 on the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. More public commissions followed, including the statue of James Larkin on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.
He figures in five lines of Seamus Heaney’s second “Glanmore Sonnet”:
“‘These things are not secrets but mysteries’,/Oisin Kelly told me years ago/In Belfast, hankering after stone/That connived with the chisel, as if the grain/Remembered what the mallet tapped to know.”
PUBLIC ART BY KELLY
The Children of Lir (1964) Garden of Remembrance, Dublin 1
Two Working Men (1969) by County Hall, Cork
Roger Casement (1971) Banna Strand, Co. Kerry
Jim Larkin (1977) O’Connell Street, Dublin 1
Chariot of Life (1982) Irish Life Centre, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1