02 January 2020

A new place in
Laytown for ‘Positivity,
Ambition and Pride’

Dearfachas, Uaillmnian and Bród … three horses by sculptor Lynn Kirkham at Colaiste na hInse in Laytown, Co Meath (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

As I was walking from Laytown on my way to lunch in Relish in Bettystown earlier this week, I noticed how much had changed in such a short space of time – less than 18 months – since I had last visited these two coastal towns in Co Meath.

I have known this area since childhood summer holidays in the 1960s, and I got to know it better in my schooldays in Gormanston in the later 1960s.

Of course, much has changed in over half a century, but it is surprising how much changes even within a year and a half.

After admiring Linda Brunker’s Voyager looking out to the sea above the beach at Laytown, I then noticed Lynn Kirkham’s new sculpture in Laytown of three horses in bog oak.

I suppose white horses have been crashing onto the sands at Laytown beach for centuries, and of course many people have got to know the beach at Laytown and Bettystown because of the races on the beach.

But these three new horses at Colaiste na hInse are the work of the sculptor Lynn Kirkham, who has sculpted them from bog wood.

The horses, named Dearfachas, Uaillmnian and Bród, were unveiled in July 2018, and are the result of almost two years of hard labour, with 150 separate pieces of bog oak, ewe and pine put together by Lynn Kirkham.

She is originally from Lancashire and is now based in Templemore, Co Tipperary. She has completed a similar project at the Curragh racecourse, with the landmark sculptures of Fionn Mac Cumhail and his Hounds.

The school motto is ‘Positivity, Ambition and Pride,’ and these are the names she has given to the horses in the Irish language.

The work was commissioned by Louth and Meath Education and Training Board under the Percent for Art scheme to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Colaiste na hInse, a modern secondary school that was moving to a new purpose-built, permanent location. The work was also supported by an EU grant.

The sculpture depicts three horses galloping in the waves and was inspired by the Laytown races on the extensive Meath beaches where ‘White horses of the sea’ break dramatically onto the sand.

The horses are named Bród (Pride), Uaillmhain (Ambition) and Dearfachas (Positivity). Each shows a different character and pose to represent the key words in school motto at Colaiste na hInse.

The sculpture is made from bog oak, yew and pine, gathered by Tipperary farmers and took almost two years to make, including working outdoors through a hard winter and through a heatwave. The wood had to be processed and shaped, then fitted together with brackets on steel frames. The entire project was then dismantled so the frames could be galvanised and reassembled for siting.

Lynn Kirkham’s passion for horses and animals is seen through her other well-known sculptures, including Ghost Horses from the Bog and Fionn Mc Cumhaillle and his Hounds (Kildare County Council) and Free Spirit at Slane Whiskey Distillery.

The cross on the sandbanks behind the church in Laytown, Co Meath, looking out to the Irish Sea (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

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