"Protectour" 2021 (in progress) Portlaoise, Co Laois

"Protectour" 2022

for Portlaoise, Co Laois, polished concrete and stainless steel.

The focal point for the artwork is a large portal that marks the celebratory nature of sports, referencing the nearby O'Moore Park. The form of the portal is inspired by the footprint of the historic Old Fort "Protectour", which was essentially a square fort with a square tower on one corner.

Accompanying this portal are seven smaller forms, placed so that they sweep through an arc creating a curving and rotating composition. This implies further form below ground level. The seven smaller concrete forms represent the seven septs of Laois; O'Devoy (O'Deevy), O'Doran, O'Dowling, McEvoy, O'Kelly, O'Lalor and O'Moore. These are the original Gaelic clans that were then "transplanted" out of Laois to Munster and Connaught. The large portal and the smaller forms represent a historic transfer of power in Laois.

It was important that this new artwork for Portlaoise reflected the time, place and space of the local community. James Hayes, with assistance from the Laois Arts Office engaged with a number of local interest groups and schools during the Covid pandemic to create and gather material for a time capsule that is now hidden away inside the artwork. The time capsule will, when it is opened in future years, reflect the happenings in the lives of these people over the period of the creation of the artwork.

Image Details

  • James Hayes with the sculpture
  • Protectour 2022
  • Detail of stainless steel on portal
  • Detail of stainless steel on portal
  • View from the footpath
  • Proposal image from 2020