Four years after they were ordered from Donegal sculptor Maurice Harron of Donegal, the giant statues in Lurgan and Portadown are about to be set in place.
Demolition work began this week on the Lurgan site – the former toilets building in the town centre – and preparatory work will begin soon in Portadown, adjacent to Northway at West Street.
In fact, it brings to an end almost six years of talk and inaction since the statues were first mooted prior to the two towns’ public realms work.
At that stage, finance was not available for the 12-foot high structures, which cost £62,000, plus the contract work which will add up to £177,000. But they were finally ordered in January 2009, delivered in June the following year and have lain inert at the council’s Carn depot ever since.
The Lurgan masterpiece mirrors that town’s linen history, while the Portadown statues reflect the area’s apple industry.
Alderman Arnold Hatch, who has consistently criticised the delay, said, “Better late than never. These are two superb sculptures and I’m delighted they are at last being set in place. The Lurgan work is going ahead, and there is some subterranean electrical work to be done in Portadown.”
Meanwhile, DUP councillors in Portadown along with Sydney Anderson MLA, said they had secured a parking layby at the site.
Said Councillor Darryn Causby, “We are delighted at the prospect of these iconic piece of art work with a parking space for the community to enjoy which also captures a small part of Portadown’s rich heritage whilst providing a practical solution to parking difficulties. It’s close to the site of the old railway turntable, and there will be a plaque explaining that.
“Much credit is also due to the hard work of local traders in the area because they took the time to lobby councillors and articulate their needs and they have been very positive about this project and I know they are looking forward to its completion.”