Plan to honour Munster rugby with bronze statues of Stringer and O’Gara

TALKS are at an advanced stage with Cork City Council to erect a pair of statues in the city centre honouring Munster rugby.

A preferred site at Daunt Square, close to Cork’s main thoroughfare on Patrick Street, has been chosen for the privately funded bronzes which will depict Peter Stringer and Ronan O’Gara in action. The work could be unveiled this time next year if council backing is granted.

Munster supporters Paul and Pauline McCarthy came up with the concept and secured the council’s support following meetings with city manager Tim Lucey and council officials.

Dr McCarthy said the works, to be sculpted by artist Mark Rode, are intended to embody the spirit of Munster rugby as a whole rather than the specific players.

The larger-than-life-size figures will show Stringer throwing a pass to O’Gara and are believed to be the first interactive pair of statues anywhere in the world, mounted on granite plinths and standing between 16 and 25ft apart.

“My wife and I conceived this idea of honouring in Cork the contribution that Cork players have made to Munster rugby and we talked about it for a year. We wanted something that would epitomise everything that was best about Munster rugby,” he said.

“We came up with the idea of a pair of statues of players, not to honour them specifically but to represent every past, present and future player in Munster, because the spirit survives. To embody and signify the qualities that have made Munster a byword for courage, determination, dedication and passion. And we decided on Ronan and Peter.”

Dr McCarthy has strong ties with Munster rugby and initiated the province’s annual Academy Player of the Year award in the name of his father, the late Count Dr John McCarthy, who was born in 1906 and played for UCC, London Irish and Munster.

He said the idea was met with enthusiasm by the Munster supporters he canvassed so he took the next step and contacted O’Gara and Stringer.

“I told them what we envisioned and both were incredibly enthusiastic about it,” he said.

Dr McCarthy enlisted Mayo-based Australian sculptor Mark Rode, whose works include the Champions sculpture of Gaelic footballers in Tralee, a monument to the first All-Ireland hurling final in Birr, and the Tour de France Memorial depicting Sean Kelly in Enniscorthy.

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