1972 bombing victims son sculpts for Fallen

Published 05/12/2003 | 00:11

THOMAS Duffy is a sculptor who is preparing a commemorative bronze to celebrate the life of a father he never knew.Thomas is the son of Tommy Duffy, who was killed in December, 1972, when a car bomb exploded in Dublins Sackville Place.He was born just a few months after those terrible events and has only known his father through hearing stories from family members who

By John Manning

THOMAS Duffy is a sculptor who is preparing a commemorative bronze to celebrate the life of a father he never knew.

Thomas is the son of Tommy Duffy, who was killed in December, 1972, when a car bomb exploded in Dublin’s Sackville Place.

He was born just a few months after those terrible events and has only known his father through hearing stories from family members who knew his father.

He has now been commissioned by Dublin City Council and CIE, to prepare a bronze sculpture to be set in the pavement at Sackville Place commemorating the victims of the 72 and 73 bombings.

The bronze and granite sculpture is entitled ‘Fallen Bouquet’ and depicts the scattering of flowers after a bouquet has fallen to the ground.

The scattered flowers form into three main groups representing Tommy Duffy and Geoge Bradshaw, the victims of the 72 bomb and Tommy Douglas who died in the attack a year later.

The project has been a collaborative effort between Thomas and the families of the three victims.

Thomas said: ‘I have been a facilitator for the families in this. The families have had a lot of input in the design and have made the final decisions on things like what flowers would be represented.’

The idea for the sculpture came about three years ago when Thomas was laying a wreath with his mother in Sackville Place, on the anniversary of his father’s murder.

‘I was struck by the impermanence of it all. The flowers were so delicate and I knew it would only be a matter of time before they were destroyed.’

Later that night he discussed the idea of a more permanent memorial to the bomb victims with his mother.

That began the ball rolling. When the Justice for the Forgotten campaign got involved, councillors were lobbied and eventually Dublin City Council rowed in behind the project.

Thomas has been a sculptor for many years but only learned the skills necessary for this commission when he trained in bronze casting, two years ago and feels ‘it was almost predestined’ that he should take up this commission.

The project is of course very important for the sculptor and he hopes it will bring him closer to the father he never knew.

‘Obviously this is a massive cathartic thing for me. I never met my father and this is the first direct relationship I have been able to have with him,’ he said.

But as an artist, Thomas is determined to keep the professional distance he needs to complete the project.

He said: ‘I have to try to keep a certain amount of professional detachment because this is a technical challenge as much as anything.’

The project is timely for the artist given the imminent reports from Judge Barron and the Justice for the Forgotten campaign.

There are also important events happening in the sculptor’s personal life - he is planning to get married next year.

Thomas Duffy is anxious for the Barron report to be published and sees it as ‘a stepping stone to a full cross-jurisdictional enquiry.’

His hopes for the report and for his sculpture is that they will serve to remind people that history is about more than politics and dramatic events.

‘History is selective about what it chooses to remember. Its about people and people’s lives,’ he said.

He also wants the decision makers of the day to be brought to book.

He said: ‘We have had a lot of politicians in court answering questions about finances but I want to see the people who made the decisions back then face questions in an enquiry.’



The sculpture is expected to be set into the pavement at Sackville place next spring and will take 46 working days to complete.

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