Defacing Luke


On January 30th this year I decided to work from home. The reason for my decision was because a statue of the late, folk singer Luke Kelly was to be unveiled on the grass verge beside the Royal Canal on Guild Street that day. The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins was to do the reveal of the artwork. The view from my window was directly on the statue. I would get a birds-eye view of the unveiling, away from the huge crowd gathered, and out of the bitter cold. The ceremony – on the 35th anniversary of his death – was impressive with speeches and music, and masses of loyal fans. The location of the bust was at the end of Sheriff Street – where Kelly had grown up, and remains a local hero for inner city Dublin, for his part in the legendary group the Dubliners.

 The statue by sculptor Vera Klute was rather controversial – a two metre tall bust of a head, with a pale, marble face and a mop of hair made from brass wiring. It was far more interesting to look at than the mundane, bronze statue of Kelly which was unveiled on the same day on King Street. I loved it from the moment I saw it. It is a very distinctive monument and something that I see every morning as I do a blood-test and take an insulin injection before going to work. On the days I work from home, every time I look up I see the image of Luke Kelly with his furrowed brow, and his mouth opened in song, staring back at me. I love the way that it receives so many daily visitors, in this part of town – where there is a plenitude of shiny, glass insurance companies, but very few tourists.

 Sheriff Street from where Kelly hailed, remains a notorious thoroughfare in Dublin. It sits amid the shiny banks and insurance firms of the financial district, but hasn’t benefited from the enormous wealth that surrounds it. It remains one of the most economically deprived streets in Dublin (which also features a Chinese chipper named the Shang Hai Takeaway where I first sampled a local delicacy – the spicebag.) It was great that such a cherished son of this street would be commemorated so close to home.

 Anyway, last night I went to the Abbey Theatre where I saw ‘Two Pints’ by Roddy Doyle, for a tenner – an excellent play about two old Dublin lads ruminating on the state of the world from their bar stools – it’s an hilarious, fast-paced show with impressive performances by the two lead actors Liam Carney (Kevin from Glenroe) and Philip Judge. When I got home I did my usual – went to the window to check my blood sugar. I looked out at Luke and was horrified to see that he had been defaced. Some feral scrotebag had decided to paint black sunglasses on his face. I turned on my computer to see that this was a news story.

 It is so very disappointing to see this happening. It shows a lack of respect and civic pride on the part of the culprits. The people of Sheriff Street and the surrounding streets have a reputation that is undeserved by so many of them. So to have an individual or a pair, allow the entire community to be judged in the same breath as those scumbags is disgraceful. Perhaps I am being premature by claiming that it is some little Dublin skanger who is responsible, but I think it is fair to say that it wasn’t the work of an employee of a nearby insurance company. I hope whoever did this is caught on CCTV and identified. They deserve feel the wrath of the local community (of which they are a part) for their desecration of a memorial to an icon.

 It’s a sure sign of what an act of vandalism this was, if a character as morally dubious as the Fine Gael minister for culture – and fraudulent legal actions involving falling from a swing – Josepha Madigan is condemning you.

 I hope Luke Kelly’s statue is cleaned soon. I want his statue to remain looking fresh and healthy for a long time.


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