Kieran Tuohy – Sculptures


Kieran Tuohy is a renowned Irish artist

They Came With Empty Bowls

Orphaned. Alone

Lost and frightened. Not lost…abandoned

What will become of these starving children?

Severed dreams, Stolen childhoods

Lost, unclaimed, like a castaway drifting on a raft into a vast open sea.

So small and vulnerable, unprotect- ed from the elements, unprepared and petrified as to what the next wave might throw at them.

But these children are not at sea.. they queue instead with sea like legs for a drop of soup that might ease the pain and fill their bellies. And quench the draught inside their mouths.

They are children.

All they have are their memories now, for their dreams are filled with tears. Even the spirit of a child can be tarnished, dulled by the enormity of their little eyes witnessing horrors.

They are children.

All they have are their memories now, for their dreams are filled with tears. Even the spirit of a child can be tarnished, dulled by the enormity of their little eyes witnessing horrors

Tears as raw as nettle stings slide down their unwashed faces.

Like ragamuffins, covered in torn rags or over sized coats with dirty hands and empty bowls, they queue like frail birds at the window for soup.

When is the right time? When can you let go?

A painful question asked with a heavy heart.

Surrounding the base of this sculpture is a stack of black potatoes representing the consequences

that the potato blight had caused. Hunger, pain, agony and disease are the emotions etched onto the skull like faces of the once main staple food. Emanating from the blighted potatoes are the black ridges that manifest into the hands of death of which death has its hands on the small, weak child turbulently balanced between life and death. The hands are trying to consume whatever bit of strength and fight the child has left. The mother is trying to save the child but it is futile and death will ultimately consume it. The child is very weak but the mother is still fighting to protect it, out of love, responsibility or the natural instinct a parent has to protect its offspring. The mother is standing on the black ridges that will soon turn to death. If she remains with the child until the end, even though she knows the child will die, the mother is highly likely to become

infected with disease. So she is left with a heavy heart and a painful question: ‘When’ do you release a child to death? Do you abandon the child because your efforts to save

it are futile? Do you save yourself? Or comfort the child until death and hope in your despair to escape the same fate?

When do you let go of a loved one?

The Hannah Shipwreck

As Canada was part of the commonwealth with Ireland, it was considerably cheaper to import goods such as timber or coal from Canadian shores than trade with other European countries due to no tariff rates between commonwealth countries. One of the main issues that shipping companies facedwas sailing back to Canada with empty ships as they would be too top heavy. This meant it had to carry ballast for stabilisation. With the increase in emigration, it soon became profitable for these shipping companies to carry Irish Emigrants in place of ballast. The Hannah was one such immigrant ship when on its return journey to Canada, collided with an iceberg in the Gulf of the St.Lawrence. The captain of the ship, Captain Curry Shaw, and his two officers escaped on the only lifeboat on board leaving the remaining crew and passengers to fend for themselves. The captain had ordered the hatch on the ship to be nailed shut trapping the passengers inside. Once wrenched open by the remaining crew, some passengers survived by scampering onto theice sheet and eventually rescued by other ships. Tragically, many men, women and children perished on the ice. This sculpture depicts the wreck of The Hannah, at the bottom of the ocean with 40 unaccounted for still on board the ship. The Hannah sailed from Newry and Warrenpoint, Co. Down on the 3rd April 1849 carrying 200 passengers, with most coming from Co. Armagh. It sank on 29th April 1849.

There were many horrific stories from this wreckage including one of John and Bridget Murphy who earlier in the year lost one of their children following a blaze at their family home. They set out with their four remaining children and lost the two eldest, who were twins.

They were placed on the ice, but it became detached and they floated away and disappeared in the mist.

Kieran Tuohy and Dermot Friel


established 1835