‘Poplar’ River Walk Sculpture – A Complement to Castleisland’s Culture and Heritage

Will Fogarty who works under the Fear na Coillte trade name pictured with his almost complete, Killarney Road facing tree sculpture on Castleisland’s river walk as part of the works upgrade there under the supervision of Kerry County Council area engineer, Jimmy O’Leary. ©Photograph: John Reidy 7-6-2024
Will Fogarty / Fear na Coillte with the river-side seat from the same poplar tree as the inset of the back of the main sculpture on the river walk between Barrack Street and Killarney Road bridges. ©Photographs: John Reidy

I was in the company of two men, last Friday morning, who are in the process of paying Castleisland, its cultural and musical heritage, a complement of a highly artistic nature.

Not since former TD Jimmy Deenihan deemed it appropriate to honour Con Houlihan, with a monument in his native town in mid January 2004, has the area been so honoured by a work of such relevance and monumental significance.

In the course of my chat with the men, local Kerry County Council Engineer Jimmy O’Leary and chainsaw sculptor Fear na Coillte, Will Fogarty, there was an instinctive moment of finger pointing and compliment deflecting.

Widely Acclaimed Chainsaw Sculptor

Really taken aback with the artistry of what stood before me I asked the men whose idea it was and, equally fast on the draw, the fingers pointed at each other with gunslinger speed.

The Hospital, Co. Limerick based Will Fogarty is a widely acclaimed ‘chainsaw sculptor’ who has an increasing catalogue of such eye-catching works throughout Ireland.

Conflicting notions of a chainsaw, as an instrument of destruction and as the most unlikely of artistic tools, fade when you come face to face with the results of Will Fogarty’s deliberations on the banks of the River Maine here in Castleisland.

No Detail Overlooked

The extensive trunk of a poplar tree on the town’s popular river-walk is the host for the sculpture – which is likely to become a much photographed, visitor attraction in the area.

It features a fiddle as the most prominent of the portrayed relief instruments with a harp, accordion and mandolin carved into the trunk on the back.

No detail is overlooked and to describe the overall impact of the ‘piece’ as highly impressive seems a frightfully inadequate conclusion.

Part of the upper trunk of the tree is being carved into a river walk seat nearby and this features a Kingfisher from the fertile imagination of native and US based, Joe Keane – who happened to be at home as the work progressed.

The works will be sealed with decking oil to help preserve them from the elements.

Rambling Away Unhindered

The tree itself, planted years ago by Joe’s brother John, was a victim of its own growing success and it had become a danger with the frequency of high winds and storms of recent years.

Its extensive root system had been rambling away unhindered and had ruptured the surface of the riverwalk between Killarney and Barrack Street bridges on which it grew.

If felled in such circumstances it could have destroyed houses within its vast reach and if carried by the flooded river beside it, the nearby Killarney Road or Herbert Bridge could be rendered unstable by the impact of its considerable bulk.

There are only vague plans for an official unveiling or launch of the work- yet.

But this is a genuine cause for celebration and I can visualise a fine session of local music there some fine evening without even closing my eyes.

Phase three of the upgrading works on the Castleisland River Walk will commence tomorrow morning, June 12th at 8pm and will necessitate the closure of the walk between the Church Street and Crageens bridges from this Wednesday morning at 8pm until Friday, July 26th. ©Photograph: John Reidy


Closure of River Walk Section for Upgrade Phase Three

Meanwhile, and closely related: Kerry County Council wishes to advise you that works to upgrade and enhance the section of the Castleisland town river walk between the bridges on Church Street and The Crageens at An Ríocht Athletic Club will necessitate a closure from this mid-week to the end of July.

“To facilitate these works a full closure of the river walk between Church Street (R-577) and An Riocht Ac / Crageens Bridge will be in operation from this Wednesday morning, June 12th at 8am to Friday, July 26th 2024.

“Kerry County Council is upgrading the river walk between the points mentioned above and your patience and co-operation will be much appreciated.

Please contact the Castleisland area office on 066 71 63402 should you have any observations to make in relation to these works,’ according to a notice from the local area office.

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