Three plaster models from the Proud People sculpture in Newry, along with some of the sculptor’s preparatory drawings and photographs, are now displayed in Newry and Mourne Museum.
The sculpture, which stands in Hill Street and depicts various phases in the history of Newry, was commissioned in 1994 as part of the celebrations to mark the 850th anniversary of the founding of the city. It was designed by the late Irish sculptor, Patrick McElroy, and the models have been donated to the Museum by his daughter, Kristina McElroy.
Used in the bronze casting process of the sculpture, the three models on display interpret the foundation of the Cistercian abbey in Newry, the people of Newry and traditional musicians. Before going on view the three models were conserved by a specialist ceramics conservator.
At the launch of the display Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Deputy Chairperson, Councillor Oonagh Magennis said, “My sincere thanks go to Kristina for donating the plaster models to Newry and Mourne Museum, where they will be preserved and enjoyed for many generations to come. Patrick was truly inspired by the history of the town, and this stimulated him to create a very original artwork. We are absolutely delighted that three of the original plaster models and some of his preparatory drawings and photographs, are now in the Museum collection”.
Deputy Chairperson, Cllr Magennis continued, “These plaster models and supporting archival material are a very significant donation connecting the Museum collection with public art in Newry. They reveal the thought and working processes of one of Ireland’s most important 20th century sculptors.”
Talking about why she donated the models and other preparatory items to the Museum, Kristina McElroy said, “My father, Paddy McElroy was so proud to have completed this sculpture for the township of Newry and it is only right that the plaster casts and drawings are now in Newry & Mourne Museum for them to be enjoyed by local people and visitors alike. We as a family appreciate the input and support provided to us by the staff at Newry and Mourne Museum during the planning and implementation of this display and appreciate the vital service the Museum provides in preserving and enriching the cultural heritage of Newry.”
The Proud People sculpture tells the story of Newry and its people over the past eight and a half centuries and include Celtic legend, the Cistercian monastery, Vikings, the Mourne Mountains and the sea. Local buildings and engineering works are included such as Newry Town Hall, churches, Newry Canal, Craigmore Viaduct and railways. The industrial and commercial life of the town are also depicted as well as sport, the arts and social life.
The three plaster models will be on display at Newry and Mourne Museum until late 2022 and entry to the Museum is free of charge. For opening hours, information on events, upcoming exhibitions and other services please telephone 0330 137 4422.