Film: James Henry Foley

ICC Digital are pleased to present ‘James Henry Foley: Sculptor of the Empire’ from The Loopline Collection, courtesy of the Irish Film Archive.
There are strange things done from twelve to one / In the Hollow at Phaynix Park, / There’s maidens mobbed and gentlemen robbed / In the bushes after dark; / But the strangest of all within human recall / Concerns the statue of Gough, / ’twas a terrible fact, and a most wicked act, / For his bollix they tried to blow off! / ‘Neath the horse’s big pr**k a dynamite stick / Some gallant “hayro” did place, / For the cause of our land, with a match in his hand / Bravely the foe he did face; / Then without showing fear – and standing well clear – / He expected to blow up the pair / But he nearly went crackers, all he got was the knackers / And he made the poor stallion a mare!

The Ballad of Gough by Vincent Caprani tells the story of how a statue of Field Marshall Gough was blown up by Republicans in 1957. The monument, however, was a superb piece of art, rated as one of the best equestrian statues in the world, but also a symbol of a hated imperial past. Ironically, both the subject and the sculptor were Irish. Gough, born in Limerick, made his career as a British Army officer. The sculptor was John Henry Foley (1818-1874), best known for the Daniel O’Connell monument on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

Foley became the foremost sculptor of the British Empire, with prominent works in colonies around the world, including his native Ireland. His portrayal of Queen Victoria’s beloved Prince Albert is the centrepiece of the Albert Memorial in London and his Daniel O’Connell Monument dominates Dublin’s main thoroughfare.  The trio of Grattan, Goldsmith and Burke remain outside Trinity College, Dublin, likewise the Father Matthew monument in Cork. No other sculptor in Ireland has so many works on display.

Watch the film here

Thank you to Loopline Film and the Irish Film Institute.