(By Ned Hoskin, Staff reporter)
TROY ‹ An Irish artist has been commissioned to do the bust of James Connolly that will stand in Riverfront Park as a memorial to the former Trojan and Irish patriot.
Paula O'Sullivan, a young sculptress and painter from Tralee in County Kerry, Ireland, has been notified by telegram that the James Connally Commemorative Committee selected her to do the bust. Her rendering will be the centerpiece of the monument to be unveiled in August during the city's Irish Day festivities in the park.
A native of Ireland, Connally lived and worked in Troy for a couple of years during the first decade of this century. He returned to Ireland eventually, and was a leader in the labor movement and the Irish fight for independence. He was killed by British forces following the Easter Rising of 1916.
Committee member George Foley recently visited with O'Sullivan in her home. He was impressed with her work and brought photos of other busts she has done to show the committee. The members agreed she was the one they were looking for.
Committee Chairman James Devine said it was important she be notified fairly soon so she could get started. O'Sullivan spends a lot of time doing research on her subjects before she starts to work with her hands. Her realistic busts are remarkable for their vitality and lifelike expressions, he said.
With commitments made for the art work and for publication of the commemorative journal that is planned, and with many initial contacts completed, it is time for the real fund-raising efforts to begin.
"Now we've got to get busy," Devine said.
In addition to his work on the committee, Foley is the archivist for the New York State Ancient Order of Hibernians. In the past he was historian for the national organization for two years; he was editor of the internationally distributed Hibernian Digest magazine for four years.
In making contacts for the Connally tribute, Foley spent some time with one of O'Sullivan's subjects, Deputy Prime Minister Dick Spring, minister of energy and a leader of the Irish Labor Party. Spring expressed a good deal of interest in the tribute, Foley said. Connally helped to found the Irish Labor Party in the years after he left Troy and returned to his homeland.
Foley also met with Sen. Chris Kirwan, general secretary of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, a post Connally held. Kirwan was enthusiastic about the upcoming commemorative, presented the idea to his council and came up with a sizable donation, Foley said.
By telephone, Foley was able to contact former Prime Minister Charles Haughey of the political party Fianna Fail. Haughey is also interested.
Devine is planning a trip to Ireland in the spring to follow up on the contacts made by Foley.
[ Troy ]