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.
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Thank you to Loopline Film and the Irish Film Institute.