'Blair Witch' fears as Council bids to curb Luke statue attacks

A worker removing graffiti on the Luke Kelly statue

Darragh McDonagh

The installation of fencing, CCTV cameras and the addition of a 2.5m-high plinth are among the options being considered by Dublin City Council to prevent further graffiti attacks on the statue of Luke Kelly on Sheriff Street.

The local authority is also exploring the idea of illuminating the sculpture to deter vandals, but the artist has expressed concern that this would make it "look like the Blair Witch Project" at night.

The 1.8m statue of the late Dubliners singer on the corner of Sheriff Street and Guild Street was vandalised again last week.

Records, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that Dublin City Council has paid almost €2,000 to specialist contractors for the removal of graffiti from the statue since it was unveiled by President Michael D Higgins last year on the 35th anniversary of Kelly's death.

The council compiled a list of options last month intended to put a stop to the series of vandalism attacks on the monument, while former lord mayor Tom Brabazon made representations seeking the relocation of the statue to Kilbarrack in Dublin 5.

Other options include the installation of CCTV cameras on nearby poles, or the erection of high fencing that would be locked at night. However, council officials noted that some of the vandalism had taken place in daylight.

Statue was daubed with paint

There is also a plan to replace the existing loose gravel around the sculpture with resin-bonded material - because people have thrown stones into the statue's hair.

The artist who created the monument, Vera Klute, objected to the installation of uplighters as a deterrent because they would make the statue look like something from the "Blair Witch Project", according to the records.

Instead, she suggested a public engagement campaign to address "a lack of appreciation of the sculpture amongst the younger generation", after which "they might take pride in the sculpture, which could go a long way in preventing further vandalism".

However, the council noted that "the primary threat" to the monument is not thought to come from "this age group".

It also noted that the issue of vandalism of public art is not confined to the sculpture of Luke Kelly.

A number of other examples were cited in the documents, including tagging and graffiti on the O'Connell Monument.


"The shoes on the John Coll statue of Patrick Kavanagh were spray-painted red… the nose of the stone bust of Henry Grattan in Merrion Square was broken… and the statue of Phil Lynott was knocked over by two drunks in 2013," the memo said.

The local authority has also considered elevating the statue out of the reach of vandals by placing it on a 2.5m plinth, producing a number of photo mock-ups depicting how the taller monument would look.

The Luke Kelly statue on Sheriff Street was daubed with paint last week in the latest attack, while a second statue of the singer in South King Street was vandalised for the first time.