When local artist Maura O’Connell of West Cork Casting Studio was commissioned to prepare specially-moulded hand casts for none other than Cork GAA legend, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, and rising Cork GAA star, Melissa Duggan, she couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
Sean Óg was invited to speak to children and their families at Togher National School in Dunmanway. He gave a powerful speech which will go on to inspire these children for many years to work hard at their studies and to get involved in sport.
As a thank you, school principal, Helen O’Connell organised for Seán Óg to have his hand cast holding a sliothar to represent his hurling career.
Two casts were made on site that evening at the school and the second piece is on display at Togher NS.
Maura said: “He was really amused by the process of mould-making and casting and when he was presented with the finished product, he was fascinated with the detail in the piece and commented on the how the tension in the hold was visible in the cast.”
That same week, Maura was invited to St Mary’s National School, Dunmanway where past pupil and Cork Ladies GAA star, Melissa Duggan, was honoured with a reception to celebrate her sporting achievements.
Maura commissioned a beautiful unique cast of Melissa’s hands, which was framed together with a Cork Jersey and was presented to Melissa to be showcased in the school’s main foyer to inspire students.
Melissa thanked everyone for their support and encouraged the children to stay involved in sport, especially the 6th class girls as they move onto secondary school - and she reminded them it is never too late to take up sport.
Maura, who set up West Cork Casting Studio in year 2017 at her home near Dunmanway, explained what a delight and honour to have been involved in these two projects.
“Through my work, I get to meet people from all walks of life, from casting newborn babies’ hands and toes to grandparents celebrating wedding anniversaries and everything in between.
“I enjoy chatting to people and getting to know them but I must say I very much enjoyed meeting both Melissa and Seán Óg — they were so humble when talking about their achievements and are real inspirations for young people.”