The Winged Horse – Artist – Conor Fallon. Date – 1992. Medium – Steel. Measurements – 3.95m high. Location – Castle Park, Athenry.

Conor Fallon, R.H.A.
Self-taught artist was born Dublin 1939
Started painting while a student at Trinity College Dublin, turning to sculpture under the influence of Denise Mitchell while living in Cornwall.

1968 – Elected member of Newlyn Society of Artists.

1980 – Oireachtas gold medal for sculpture.

1984 – Elected member of Aosdána.

1989 – Elected member of the Royal Hibernian Academy.

Selected Commissions:

Arts Council, Mountshannon.

St. Patricks Hospital, Dublin.

Heron Corporation.

Dublin County Council.

University College Dublin.

Irish Life Assurance.

Works in many public collections.

The Winged Horse.

Conor Fallon, one of Ireland’s leading sculptors was invited to sculpt a commemorative piece in memory of his father, the poet Padraic Fallon (1905 – 1974), by the Athenry Padraic Fallon celebration committee.

Padraic Fallon was born in Athenry, he was the son of a business man and cattle dealer.

In 1992, Athenry hosted a poetry weekend attracting poets from all over the country to read their own material in honour of Padraic Fallon. Rita Ann Higgins, Eva Bourke, Patrick O’ Brien and Paul Durcan were among those who contributed to the weekend. Conor Fallon’s piece “the Winged Horse” was generously given to Athenry as a gift, and we are extremely privileged. The sculpture was unveiled by the Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney, Fallon’s contemporary and friend. Heaney then gave a dynamic poetry reading from the park’s folly (a miniature 20th century round tower) for all those present.

Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney at the unveiling of the Winged Horse

he piece is executed in flat cut steel which in turn, is shaped and bent. Fallon often plays around with card cut-outs before executive, in order to bring light into his works, and this technique is implemented in “the Winged Horse”. The large column on which the horse is perched takes its influence from Etruscan vases and the Doric column. Its simplicity gives a certain spatial quality to the piece bringing the eye right up, around and through the sculpted horse. Fallon uses a similar construction for his “Cock” in University College Dublin, which is basically the same idea but merely a different bird on top.

The piece itself works very well within its surroundings in Athenry. It stands in front of a 13th century medieval castle and adjacent to the Dominican priory (1241). Thus, contrasting the old with the new. It is not intruded on in any way by other buildings. Its other backdrop is its most beautiful; nature itself, a framing of trees, a bubbling stream and a shock of sky, and when the light catches the cleverly scratched steel it dances and seems almost to be taking flight.

Erect me a Monument of Broken Wings

Horses have always been a significant theme in Fallon’s repertoire, as have birds and heads. This particular sculpture is an extremely personal piece for him, as it marks the end of grieving for his father who had been a profound figure in Fallon’s life. His father had mentioned the Pegasus on numerous occasions in storytelling and in his poetry, therefore the Pegasus was Fallon’s starting point. “Erect me a monument of broken wings” is a line in one of his father’s poems entitled “Athenry” and once brought to Fallon’s attention, it played on his mind.

He did not in fact break the horses’ wings: ironically that was left up to the work of vandals who, four months later, apparently took turns in swinging off the wings and consequently cracked one of them. A very embarrassed Athenry informed the artist of the damage and Fallon kindly returned to repair the piece. But he left a little crack, it was what Fallon was almost expecting and he does not believe it was anything but his father’s intervention.

Extract from “Athenry” by Padraic Fallon;

“Ass – eared and tumbrilled, with his silent wife

He’ll arrive; unlike me left

Wilting with time,

I in the morse

Hoofbeats of the horse,

The jargon of the Gods maybe, and maybe

I turned in on some heraldic thing;

(Erect me a monument of broken wings)

However divine the arguments

I lost them every one”

Day of Rest

On Sunday the gates

Of quiet open and the slow

Sluices allow the tide of things to go its different gaits;

And earth shows her other side.

 

There might be Mass

In the air so peacefully does a country move

Inwards to the bell, slowly to pass

Up, like a smoke sucked surely from above.

 

Never are colours

More coloured; into them the young drive bicycles;

But the old are content in their harbours

Of grass and the bright gusts that rise like angels.

Padraic Fallon from “The Poplar”

Padraic Fallon was born in Athenry in 1905 and spent his early childhood here. His father was a successful cattle jobber and the family also had an interest in the hotel and butchering business. Fallon later went to boarding school and the family moved to Dublin. He joined the Civil Service and spent periods in Cavan, Dublin and Wexford. He retired to Cornwall but later returned to Ireland.

References to many places associated with Padraic Fallon are to be found in his poetry.

He was also a playwright of considerable note, many of his works being written for radio. He died in 1974 and is buried at Kinsale in Co. Cork.

I have chosen ‘Day of Rest’ as a poem having as much relevance today as when it was written. Perhaps its message is even more urgent in these times of ‘not enough hours in the day’, a time of Stress Management Courses and other less desirable methods of relaxation. It shows the way of renewal of body and soul, so necessary to us, simply by taking (to use a modern word) ‘Time Out’.

Lady’s Day is just such a day – a day to reflect to reflect on the traditions associated with the visit to the Holy Well and a day to enjoy the camaraderie of friends and family.

Further reading: “Padraic Fallon – collected poems” published by Carcanet/Gallery Books. Edited by Brian Fallon.

“Erect me a Monument of Broken Wings” – an anthology of writings by and on Padraic Fallon, edited by Patrick O’Brien, published by Padraic Fallon Celebration Committee Athenry. 1992.

A Winged Horse which stands in the Park in Memory of Padriac Fallon the poet who was born in Athenry, which was unveiled by Nobel Prize winner Séamus Heaney.

Day of Rest

On Sunday the gates
Of quiet open and the slow sluices allow the tide
Of things to go its different gaits;
And earth shows her other side.

There might be Mass
In the air so peacefully does a country move
Inwards to the bell, slowly to pass
Up, like a smoke sucked surely from above.

Never are colours
More coloured; into them the young drive bicycles;
But the old are content in their harbours
Of grass and the bright gusts that rise like angels.

Padraic Fallon from “The Poplar”

Padraic Fallon was born in Athenry in 1905 and spent his early childhood here. His father was a successful cattle jobber and the family also had an interest in the hotel and butchering business. Fallon later went to boarding school and the family moved to Dublin. He joined the Civil Service and spent periods in Cavan, Dublin and Wexford. He retired to Cornwall but later returned to Ireland.

References to many places associated with Padraic Fallon are to be found in his poetry.

Padraic Fallon was also a playwright of considerable note, many of his works being written for radio.

He died in 1974 and is buried at Kinsale in Co. Cork.

I have chosen ‘Day of Rest’ as a poem having as much relevance today as when it was written. Perhaps its message is even more urgent in these times of ‘not enough hours in the day’, a time of Stress Management Courses and other less desirable methods of relaxation.

It shows the way of renewal of body and soul, so necessary to us, simply by taking (to use a modem word) ‘Time Out’.

Lady’s Day is just such a day – a day to reflect to reflect on the traditions associated with the visit to the Holy Well and a day to enjoy the camaraderie of friends and family.

Further reading:

“Padraic Fallon – collected poems” published by Carcanet/Gallery Books. Edited by Brian Fallon.

“Erect me a Monument of Broken Wings” – an anthology of writings by and on Padraic Fallon, edited by Patrick O’Brien, published by Padraic Fallon Celebration Committee, Athenry. 1992.

Editor’s noteFallon, Padraic, in the Dictionary of Irish Biography, contributed by Tom Feeney

Feature photo: Home of the Fallon Family in Athenry

In September 1990 University College Galway commenced a course entitled ” Community Development and Enterprise Programme” which ran until May 1991.

The course explored the meaning of Community Development and the various ways by which the community in the collective sense of those living and working in the area might be encouraged to participate and grow through voluntary involvement in local issues,activities and services.

It emerged that in the experience of those participating in Community Development that projects Resource Centres, Regular Community meetings, Personal Development Groups, Local Radio and Publications were crucially important in energising and sustaining participation in Community Development.

It was found that a sense of community was best built in a small community by highlighting a common sense of values, customs, traditions, culture and history.  On the other hand it had to be noted that in areas such as our own where there were insufficient jobs to satisfy the local labour market, a greater effort had to be made to identify the resources of the area and to build upon them for the greater good of the community.

It was found that it takes initiative, commitment and resources to enforce the Sense of Community and if those elements were missing the community would not grow. It identified that one way of achieving this was through encouragement of sub groups working under the agendas of a central group, such as a Community Development Council or Co-op.

Following on from this course which has been run in several venues throughout Galway, many initiatives have been started such as: Womens Groups, Heritage and Tourism, Newsletters, Careers Groups and various other useful publications.

Best of luck to enterprising Athenry Area Development Company on this project.

Parish Church, Athenry, 1826 – 1960

St. Mary’s was built in the Chancel of the old parish Church of Athenry, the founder of the old Parish Church being Meiler de Bermingham in the 13th century and it continued in use until the Reformation. The sons of the Earl of Clanricarde destroyed it in 1576 when they sacked the town.

The first record we have of the Lambert Family is from the Vestry Book dated 1826, held at the Library of the Representative Church Body, and is on the first page. It names Peter Lambert and John H. Blakeney as Church Wardens for the coming period. At the Easter meeting of the Select Vestry

Committee of 1828, Peter Lambert is appointed Church Warden again.

Throughout the following decades, members of the Lambert family served in the capacity of Church Wardens, Vestrymen, members of the Select Vestry, Parochial Nominators, and Synodsmen. This, of course, meant that they played a very active role in the parochial life of the Church, which also included overseeing maintenance, repairs and alterations at St. Mary’s.

At various times, one finds in the Vestry Book records of several members of the family serving the Church as Vestrymen at the same time, as in 1887, when W. P. Lambert, F. R. Lambert, P. F. Lambert and J. W. A. Lambert, with others, were serving.

The Church lost two of its most loyal members in 1892 when Walter P. Lambert died, and in 1894, with the death of Peter Lambert. In a tribute to W. P. Lambert, it was recorded in the Vestry Book of 1892 a note of Condolence to Mrs. Lambert: ‘Mr. Lambert had, ever since the disestablishment of our church, been a member of this vestry and was one that ever took a deep interest in the advancement not alone of this parish but in anything that was done for the good of the church in the diocese and on his death had bequeathed a legacy of £3,000 to the Church of Ireland.’ In a most generous endowment, W. P. Lambert gave £3,000 to the Church. This was to yield an interest of £70 annually, which was of great assistance inthe maintenance of St. Mary’s. Peter Lambert also made an endowment andlikewise it helped. Apart from general maintenance, problems arose withthe Tower and the Spire in the late 1890s.

It is recorded in the Irish Ecclesiastical Gazette of Friday, December 8th 1893; ‘two stained glass windows representing respectively the Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord have been erected in Athenry Church, Co. Galway, in memory of the late Major Lopdell, Raheen Park and Mrs. Weston, daughter of the late Walter P Lambert Esq., Castle Ellen and her son and brother. The windows are the work of Mayer and Company, Munich, and are very beautiful. The Right Rev. the Lora’ Bishop of Tuam preached on the occasion, dedicating the windows to the ‘Glory of God and in memory of the above ever to be remembered and revered names’. In 1894, Mrs. W. P. Lambert had a stained glass window erected to the memory of her son, Peter.

In 1903, because of poor attendance and cost of maintenance of bothAthenry and Monivea Churches, it was proposed to amalgamate them. This was opposed particularly, it is noted, by the widows of gentlemen who had served many years as Vestrymen. Mrs. Mary Lambert is recorded as being vehemently opposed, saying her father-in-law, Mr. W. P. Lambert, had endowed Athenry Church for the purpose of benefiting its members.

In 1912 Walter P. Lambert was serving on the Select Vestry and was also a Synodsman. By 1921, the Union of Athenry and Monivea had taken place.

In 1919 is recorded the death of Captain Lambert, Taylor’s Hill. In 1922 again the Church receives a Lambert bequest – that of Peter Lambert and once again, interest of £70 per annum is recorded. Records of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials of Lamberts are held in the Record Books at the Representative Church Body Library in Dublin. The last entry in the Vestry Book was made by Canon North Bomford in 1960, being Rector from 1924. He died in 1968 and is buried in the Catholic Cemetery and sadly, St. Mary’s closed for worship. However after a period of being home to the local troupe of Scouts it is now – 1999 – home to the Athenry Heritage Centre and members of the Lambert family have once again become associated with St. Mary’s.