It's been a particularly eventful few weeks in Ireland. Justice for Magadalenes tireless campaigning finally prompted Taoiseach Enda Kenny to issue a State Apology to Magadalene Laundry survivors. There;s little of value i can add to the ongoing dialogue, but if you're uncertain as to what I am talking about visit Justice for Magadalenes website.
If you're driving from Sligo to any of the other major cities, you will be on the N4, and you'll pass this fellow on the Colooney bypass. It is 'The Gaelic Chieftain', a steel sculpture by sculptor Maurice Harron, commissioned to commemorate 400 years since the Battle of Curlew Pass. As history has it, during the Nine Years' War (a revolt against English occupation, 1595-1603), in April 1599, the Earl of Essex landed in Ireland with over 17,000 troops and cavalry to put down the rebellion of Hugh O'Neill and Red Hugh O'Donnell, which had spread from Ulster to all Ireland. Here, at the pass of the Curlew mountains, a rebel Irish force led by Red Hugh O'Donnell successfully faced down an English force under Sir Conyers Clifford, leaving hundreds of English casualties. (Thanks wikipedia for filing in the blanks!)
Maurice Harron's sculpture is iconic in Sligo's landscape. The Chieftain watches over those who enter and leave Sligo through the land of his ancestors. Harron is also responsible for the Boston Irish Famine Memorial in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Apparently this is also a hot spot for Irish UFO watchers. The west of Ireland has always had a reputation as being a mystic landscape. The Chieftain is located on a hill above the bypass, and while I can't speak for UFO sightings, it does have a fantastic view east and west along the motorway, and over Lough Key. There is a small car park here that has a few picnic benches, and it is a popular place for drivers and families to stop off on their journeys, particularly on sunny days.
Sadly, one of the consequences of Ireland's recession is the theft of Irish public art, particularly if they are made of valuable materials, such as copper. Only a month ago, a large part of a WB Yeats copper sculpture was stolen by thieves and has not been recovered.
For size reference, a reluctant picture of me beside the sculpture. It's certainly impressive to behold - I love Harron's use of material and angular shapes.