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Public consultation on sculpture of Ernest Shackleton


In 2015, Kildare County Council sought to commission a permanent sculpture in Athy, to mark the birthplace of the world famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton.

After an extensive adjudication process, Mark Richards was awarded the commission.  The sculpture, which will be 1.5 times life size and will stand on a rugged granite plinth, suggesting that the figure is standing on rough ice, is currently under construction in the artist’s studio.  


It is intended that the sculpture will be installed for unveiling on 30th August 2016, to mark the centenary of Shackleton's rescue of all 22 of his men from Elephant Island, after they had been stranded for 105 days.

While it is envisaged that the sculpture will be located in the environs on the Athy Heritage Centre-Museum and Emily Square, the final location of the piece has yet to be decided.  The commissioning of the sculpture coincides with the planned rejuvenation of Emily Square.  Urban design consultants will be appointed shortly and their recommendations will also inform the final location of the sculpture. 


We would like to hear your thoughts on where the sculpture should be located.  Submissions should be made in writing by 12 noon, Wednesday March 16th 2016

Email submissions should be sent to lrussell@kildarecoco.ie, or hard copies should be sent to Lucina Russell, Arts Officer, Kildare County Council, Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, Co Kildare



With over 30 years experience as a figure and portrait sculptor, Mark Richards combines a comprehensive understanding of sculptural techniques with a rare sensitivity of touch; his work exhibits both cohesive composition and great beauty of form.  Mark Richards recent work includes statues of the 19th century navigator, Matthew Flinders (located in Euston Station, London) and the renowned hurler Nickey Rackard, which is situated in Wexford Town.


'It is a genuine honour to be awarded the commission to create a lasting commemorative sculpture of Ernest Shackleton for Athy, in the heart of Co Kildare.  I shall endeavour to convey something the man himself, his achievements and the great esteem in which he is held the world over'.  Mark Richards FRBS




The cabin in which Shackleton died in the Antarctic Ocean in 1922 is currently being restored in Letterfrack, Co Galway and will then become part of the permanent collection in Athy Heritage Centre-Museum.  This development has been widely featured in national and international media, including RTE, TG4,BBC, UTV andLonely Planet magazine. 


The Heritage Centre-Museum intends to extend its exhibition to Shackleton when Athy Community Library vacates the adjoining building, to move to a new premises, in the coming months.





'The Ernest Shackleton Autumn School is delighted by the decision of Kildare County Council to commission a statute of the internationally renowned Kildare born polar explorer. The statute will be the first public monument to him in the country of his birth, an appropriate tribute to Shackleton in the centenary year of his renowned 'Endurance' expedition.

Shackleton Autumn School committee

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