Factory Girls public art work: Planning finally submitted

Factory girls working in Derry.
Factory girls working in Derry.

The planning application for the long-awaited public artwork dedicated to the thousands of Derry Factory workers.

The move was announced at the monthly meeting of Derry City & Strabane District Council on Thursday evening.

The project has been 10 years in the planning and there has been widespread concern over delays to realising the artwork, which will pay homage to the women who powered Derry’s economy and put the city on the map during over a century of garment making in dozens of factories and in cottage industries across the city, county and into Donegal and parts of west Tyrone.

Cork artist Louise Walsh and former Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin were praised during the meeting in the Guildhall for their tenacity in ensuring the project was brought through numerous hurdles to the planning stage.

Thanking Ms Walsh and Ms McLaughlin for their hard work, Sinn Fein Councillor Sandra Duffy said: “This project has been 10 years in the making and this is definitely a major step forward in marking the women who, through sheer grit and determination, built our city and communities.”

Louise Walsh was commissioned by the Department for Social Development to take the Factory Girls public art project forward back in 2006.

Factory workers walking along the street in Derry.

Factory workers walking along the street in Derry.

The ornate, multi- piece public art work was then designed by Ms Walsh in conjunction with local former factory workers, and was originally designed to be situated at King Street Roundabout near the Ebrington site in the Waterside.

However various issues with the site ruled out this location and the sculpture project has since been earmarked for a more prominent site at Harbour Square behind the Guildhall and facing the Peace Bridge, but the plans have also been stalled here for several years as a result of issues with the underground infrastructure and other matters relating to the site.