Sculptor behind controversial puca statue may be forced to sell work privately

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  • Aidan Harte
    Irish hurler
Sculptor Alan Harte with a miniature version of his puca statue (Niall Carson/PA)
Sculptor Alan Harte with a miniature version of his puca statue (Niall Carson/PA)

The creator of a puca statue that was to be installed in a Co Clare town has said he may be forced to sell it privately after the county council rejected the artwork.

The 6ft sculpture was to be installed in Ennistymon, however following criticism from some locals the council said it will not be proceeding with the project.

The sculpture is to be offered to other Co Clare towns and villages.

Artist Aidan Harte created the bronze art statue which was inspired by Irish folklore.

He said: “The stories about the puca are known the width and breadth of Ireland.

“He’s a shape-shifter. He appears in all sorts of forms. Probably most often as a horse.

“That was the kind of character I was trying to capture with this. The half-man, half-horse thing is a way on conveying his shape-shifting.”

Mr Harte said made his puca to appear like he is doing an Irish jig, with his toe up in the air.

“The idea is that you come along and you could rub the puca’s toe and maybe you will get a few wishes after it,” he added.

But in May last year, the project came to a halt and a local priest denounced it during a Sunday mass.

I would like to see this sculpture cast and put up in a place that wants it... If it can't work out in Clare, then I am happy to walk away

Aidan Harte, artist

“It was just about to be cast when the council said there had been a complaint and they asked to do a pause on it,” Mr Harte added.

“That was disappointing but quite reasonable as you have to deal with these things.

“Then, mid-way in this one-month pause, the local parish priest got up and preached a ceremony against it. That made headlines.”

That led to a council-commissioned survey of local opinion, which ultimately rejected the piece of art.

Mr Harte continued: “It was then an eight-month delay which ended when the council told me that on the foot of the online poll they commissioned, that it didn’t go the puca’s way and they decided it wasn’t going up.

“The main thing is I would like to see it cast in bronze.

“The people who complained about this, no-one has seen it as it was only in my studio and then it was moulded. All that existed is a mould, and I would like to see this sculpture cast and put up in a place that wants it.

“There seems to be plenty of other places that want it.

“The council said that they would pay for the casting and offer it up to whichever Co Clare town wants it.

“After this long and unprecedented delay, I have asked them for some guarantee for where and when they are going to put it up, so hopefully they will give that within a month.

“If not then maybe it will go further afield.

“There’s been plenty of offers. Just last month I was contacted by a private buyer looking to buy it. I told him that I can’t really do anything until I know what is going on.

“Now the council have decided not to put it up, I need to know what the alternative plan is.

“If it can’t work out in Clare, then I am happy to walk away.”

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