Fr O"Growney statue sculptor James Power dies, aged 90

Story by John Donohoe

Wednesday, 22nd April, 2009 8:11am

The death occurred last week of James Power, one of Ireland"s most respected sculptors, who was responsible for the famous statue of Fr Eoghan O"Growney in Athboy.

From Phibsboro in Dublin, he was aged 90 and was an excellent modeller in clay, plaster, and wax and produced many superb portraits, death masks and genre pieces.

Work on the statue of the Gaelic League founder and Ballyfallon native priest was actually started by Power"s father, Albert, who died during its production, and James - also known as Seamus de Paor - completed it.

It was unveiled in Athboy on 1956 by one of O"Growney"s successors as professor of Irish at Maynooth College, An tAthair Donnchada O Floinn, in the presence of President Sean T ' Ceallaigh and Eamon De Valera.

During recent renovations at St James"s Church, the statue was moved to a different location in the church grounds.

Power also sculpted Brendan Behan"s death mask, the 1916 memorial on Sarsfield Bridge in Limerick, and a well-known statue of Matt Talbot in Dublin. Among the many portraits he modelled were Irish national anthem author, Peadar Kearney; former President, Erskine Childers, and Irish language writer, Mairtin O"Cadhain.

He learned sculpture from his father, the master sculptor Albert Power, and attended the National College of Art in his teens, where he studied sculpture under Oliver Sheppard and painting under Sean Keating.

Power joined his father and brothers in their famous sculpture yard, opposite St Joseph"s Church, on Berkeley Road, in Phibsboro. He was a regular exhibitor at the annual RHA and Oireachtas art exhibitions.

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