Tributes to sculptor Eamonn O’Doherty

Derry sculptor Eamonn O'Doherty who passed away in Dublin this week.
Derry sculptor Eamonn O'Doherty who passed away in Dublin this week.

Eamonn O’Doherty, the Derry-born artist best known for his public sculptures across Ireland, has died.

O’Doherty, who was born in Derry in 1939, was responsible for some of the best-loved works of public art in the Republic - including the Quincentennial Sculpture in Galway’s Eyre Square, the James Connolly Memorial across from Dublin’s Liberty Hall and the Anna Livia fountain (aka ‘the floozie in the Jacuzzi), which was relocated from O’Connell Street to Croppy Acre Memorial Park near Heuston Station last December.

He died in St Luke’s Hospital in Rathgar, Dublin, on Thursday following a long battle with throat cancer. He is survived by his wife Barbara and children.

Friend and fellow artist Robert Ballagh was among those who paid tribute to the Derry man.

He said: “People who ramble around our streets will be very familiar with Eamonn O’Doherty’s work as the creator of extraordinary public sculptures. But those of us in the arts business also know of his talents as a painter and a graphic artist.

“It’s hard to say how long I’ve known Eamonn, when didn’t I know Eamonn? We go right back to when I started off in the art business myself, which would have been the late 60s, early 70s.

“Eamonn’s background was similar to mine in that he was an architect; in fact, he went one better than me because I studied architecture but didn’t qualify. Eamonn qualified and for many, many years taught architecture in Bolton Street, where he was greatly loved by the students.

“Eamonn will be remembered for his work. His piece, The Tree of Gold on the Central Bank plaza on Dame Street, is a great example and is important in the context of the city as all sorts of people, from protesters to punks, gather under the shade of Eamonn’s tree.

“On a personal level, Eamonn was one of those people in whose company you couldn’t spend an evening without going home saying you had a great night.

“When I went home at tea time yesterday, I opened up an envelope and discovered I’d been sent an invitation to attend an exhibition by Eamonn O’Doherty in the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery on August 18.

“Sadly, Eamonn’s not going to be able to attend his last exhibition, but there is a poignancy that people all over the country will be receiving this invitation.

“My sympathies go out to his wife Barbara, who has been a friend over the years.”