Plan for Rio-style statue at summit of Croagh Patrick
IRELAND could soon have its very own statue to rival Rio's world-renowned Christ the Redeemer if one artist has his way.
A 100ft-tall bronze St Patrick is being made by a Canadian sculptor who plans to present it to Ireland.
The $10m (€7.5m) artwork is the brainchild of Tim Schmalz, who has already designed numerous religious pieces around the country.
In what would be a somewhat similar location to that of the statue in Brazil, he hopes to erect his sculpture on Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo, where St Patrick is said to have banished snakes from Ireland.
"I've travelled around the world and seen religious sculptures in every land," he said. "I noted the complete absence of a large sculpture of St Patrick in Ireland and would like to remedy that.
"I want it to be a gift to the Irish people from Irish descendants, almost a thank you to Ireland for Irish culture."
Mr Schmalz believes it will take two years to complete the project. The sculpture will be built in 10 pieces at his studios in Ontario and Beijing before being shipped to Ireland.
The artist described Croagh Patrick as a "mystical place".
"Something like this would put it on the world map. It would be a true celebration of Irish heritage," he said.
However, his plans have been met with some concern in Mayo. Fr Frank Fahey, of nearby Ballintubber Abbey, who has been leading pilgrimages up Croagh Patrick for many years, questioned the need for such a monument.
And a spokesperson for Mayo County Council said it had not been approached about the plans.
Mr Schmalz recently completed a sculpture of St Brigid, which is to be erected in Kildare. He plans to base his St Patrick on a similar design, and is currently finalising the details.
He will first produce a life-sized piece from which he will then project the measurements for the 100ft sculpture.