Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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Hidden in Plain Sight - Nano Nagle Sculpture


Nano Nagle carving (photo courtesy of Chris Mulcahy)

One of the most important public pieces of sculpture in Dungarvan is easily missed by most people as it is not on the public thoroughfare.  It can be found set into the wall of Scoil Naomh Seosaibh at the Presentation Convent in Mitchel Street.

The relief sculpture in limestone contrasts with the background sandstone of the school wall.  It depicts Nano Nagle holding a book, with a boy and girl at her feet. Who sculpted it?

It was carved by Domhnall O Murchadha, R.H.A. (1914-1991).  He was a native of Carrigrohane, Ballincollig, Co. Cork.  He studied at the Crawford School of Art in Cork and then in 1939 the National College of Art where he studied under Laurence Campbell.  In 1943 he won the Purser-Griffith scholarship in the History of European Painting which allowed him to study in Florence.  In 1943 he along with other students designed and made costumes etc., for the Laurence Olivier film Henry V which was filmed at Powerscourt estate.  In 1945 he received the first of many church commissions. This included in 1964 a sculpture of ‘Our Lady and Saint Bernadette’ for Ring church.

He was acting director of the National College of Art & Design from which post which he retired in 1980.  He died on 8 January 1991 in Dublin.

Local papers recorded the official opening of the school on 8 September 1960 by Diarmaid O Hegarty, Divisional Inspector of Schools.  A stone plaque on the school building notes that the Bishop of Waterford & Lismore, the Most Rev. D Cohalan D. D., performed the official blessing for the start of the construction on 13 September 1959. This coincided with the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the convent.  The school building was designed by Guy, Moloney & Associates, Dublin.

photo courtesy of Chris Mulcahy

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