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athgarvan

Nostalgia Again!

Imogen Stuart Sculpture in Ballymore

On Wednesday last I wrote about my little village in Co. Kildare. I cannot leave without mentioning the beautiful water feature by Imogen Stuart in The Square.

It represents the influence through millennia of the River Liffey, on which the village stands, from its source in the Wicklow Mountains, its descent through Ballymore, and on to the ‘black pool’ at Dublin and the sea. It also displays carved poetic extracts from early Irish history, including the words, ‘A hedge of trees surrounds me, a Blackbird sings to me above my little lined book’, along with the carved image of a Blackbird. The arch represents the original (1784) five-arch stone bridge over the Liffey which still leads, as it did of old, to Wexford and the south-east.

Imogen Stuart was born in Berlin in 1927, the eldest daughter of Germany's leading art critic of the thirties, and began to sculpt from a very early age. In 1945 she became a pupil of the renowned expressionist sculptor, Otto Hitzberger, who taught her modelling, carving, relief work and how to handle different types of wood and stone. In 1948 a young Irishman - Ian Stuart - went to study sculpture with Hitzberger. Ian was the grandson of the English-born Irish revolutionary, feminist and actress Maude Gonne McBride best remembered for her turbulent relationship with William Butler Yeats. Imogen visited Ireland with Ian in 1949 where she became interested in Irish saints and scholars and their connection to nature. Although she had been raised a Lutheran, she decided to convert to Catholicism. Imogen and Ian married in 1951 and lived near Glendalough.

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