City Hall: O’Connell Plinth

Local engagement

  • Engaging with Sculpture

A second series of monthly presentations on aspects of sculpture in Dublin will be broadcast via Zoom starting in November 2021. The subject matter of each of the six hour-long sessions is listed below. Each session will include a short lecture on the topic in question, interaction with a relevant artist or art professional and a Q/A with the attendees. The lecturer, Paula Murphy, is a specialist in the history and theory of sculpture and has published widely on Irish sculpture. A UCD emeritus professor, she is a member of the Steering Group of Sculpture Dublin.


  1. Engaging with Sculpture: Stone

Friday 12 November, 1pm (Zoom)

This talk will explore the use of stone in sculpture in the city and include discussion with a sculptor who works in stone. A visit to the sculptor’s studio will examine the tools that are used in the process and identify the difficulties of working with the material.

Guest Speaker: Sculptor and Conservator, Jason Ellis

Watch the recording of the talk below.

  1. Engaging with Sculpture: Bronze

This talk will explore the use of bronze in sculpture in the city and include discussion with a sculptor who casts in bronze. A visit to the foundry will show something of the casting process. The essential differences between working in stone and bronze will be identified.

Guest Speaker: Sculptor Anna Campbell

Watch the recording of the talk below.

  1. Engaging with Sculpture: Mixed Media

This talk will examine the use of mixed media in sculpture in the city and include discussion with a sculptor who uses a range of different media in their work. It will recognise the extent to which sculpture today can be made out of anything. A visit to an artist’s studio will reveal the varied materials and processes that can be involved in the making of a piece of sculpture and the reasons for using them.

Guest Speaker: Sculptor Isabel Nolan

Watch the recording of the talk below.

  1. Engaging with Sculpture: Education

This talk will examine the education of sculptors in Dublin since its beginnings in the Modelling Schools of the Royal Dublin Society. Discussion with a professor of sculpture will enhance our understanding of the way in which sculpture is taught today in art schools when carving and modelling are no longer the only ways in which sculpture is made.

Guest Speaker: Brian Hand

Watch the recording of the talk below.

  1. Engaging with Sculpture: Portraiture

This talk will examine sculpted portraits. Much of the sculpture in the public domain is portraiture – statue or bust – and many institutions throughout the city have large holdings of bust portraits. Discussion with a sculptor of portraits will identify the ways in which the approaches to a painted and sculpted portrait differ.

Guest Speaker: Vera Klute

Watch the recording of the talk below.

  1. Engaging with Sculpture: Exhibition

This talk will examine significant sculpture exhibitions that have taken place in the city, while also identifying the rarity of such events. Painting exhibitions are and have been considerably more common occurrences. Discussion with a museum curator who has worked on a sculpture exhibition will identify the reasons for this.

Guest Speakers: Ruairí Ó Cuív & Rory Tangney

Watch the recording of the talk below.

  • Conversation Pieces – Talk 1: 8 October, 6.30pm

For the first in the Sculpture Dublin ‘Conversation Pieces’ series, guest curator Pádraic E. Moore chatted with Alan Phelan and Pavel S. Pyś.

The conversation began with an exploration of some of the sources that informed Phelan’s new sculpture commission for the O’Connell Plinth, such as a pamphlet of flower poems written about the Dublin Castle Scandal of 1884. The conversation also touched upon the implications of occupying or activating an empty plinth and how appropriation endures as a vital strategy for contemporary artists.

Alan Phelan studied at Dublin City University and Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. His practice involves the production of objects, participatory projects, as well as curating and writing. Selected exhibitions include: Void, Derry; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris; RHA, Dublin; The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon; The Hugh Lane Dublin City Gallery, IMMA, The LAB, Dublin; LCGA, EVA International, Limerick; Solstice, Navan; Chapter, Cardiff; Bonn Kunstmuseum; Detroit Stockholm; Treignac Projet, France; Bozar, Brussels: ŠKUC, Ljubljana; SKC Gallery, Belgrade; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Public works include Kevin Street Library; Fr Collins Park, IMMA formal gardens and Void Offsites Derry.

Pavel S. Pyś is curator of visual arts at the Walker Art Center. At the Walker, Pavel has been working across a range of projects, including solo exhibitions with Daniel Buren, Paul Chan, Michaela Eichwald, Carolyn Lazard, and Elizabeth Price, as well as group exhibitions such as The Body Electric and Resonance: A Sound Art Marathon (co-curated with Doug Benidt). In 2018, Pavel was awarded an Andy Warhol Foundation Curatorial Fellowship which is aiding his research for the 2023 exhibition Multiple Realities: Experimental Art from the Eastern Bloc, 1960s–1980s. Prior to the Walker, Pavel was exhibitions & displays curator at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds between 2011 and 2015.

Watch the recording of the Conversation Pieces – Talk 1 below:


  • ‘RGB Sconce in Context’: A Series of Short Videos by David Archbold

‘RGB Sconce in Context’ is a series of short videos by art historian and curator David Archbold designed for social media distribution. Part of the Sculpture Dublin public engagement programme around the O’Connell Plinth commission, the videos focus on different aspects of the new sculpture by Alan Phelan, including visual references; response to site and history; production and reception. The series was released in November 2021.

Watch the full series HERE


  • Workshops with Presentation Secondary School Warrenmount and Artist Renata Pekowska

For the period of September and October 2021, Renata Pekowska worked with students from Presentation Secondary School Warrenmount near the City Hall. Together, they explored and created 3D objects, with reference to the new O’Connell Plinth commission.



  • VTS Sculpture Club with The Hugh Lane Gallery

Since October 2020, The Hugh Lane Gallery and Sculpture Dublin are delivering a series of monthly Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) discussions for adults.
VTS is a fun way to look at art and make meaning out of artworks collectively. You will have an opportunity to see works from the Hugh Lane Gallery’s sculpture collection with a new eye. No background knowledge is needed for the participants nor is it provided by the facilitator. Instead of the conventional approach to visual art, VTS encourages to us think speculatively, in an enjoyable and open-ended way.
Join us at lunchtime (monthly, on Wednesdays) for an encounter with sculpture – old, new and yet to be imagined!
The next VTS Sculpture Club sessions is indicated below:
– Wednesday 13 April, 1-1.50pm, in person, in the Hugh Lane Gallery. 
  • Sculpture Dublin Lecture Series with Paula Murphy

A series of six lectures on public sculpture in Dublin was streamed online. The lectures, which were filmed in the City Hall, explore public sculpture in Dublin from different viewpoints, as indicated in the lecture titles below. The lecturer, Paula Murphy, is a specialist in the history and theory of sculpture and has published widely on Irish sculpture. A UCD emeritus professor, she is a member of the Steering Group of Sculpture Dublin. A Q/A with Professor Murphy took place after each lecture (not recorded). This series of lectures focuses on the historic work in the city. Contemporary sculptural practice in Dublin will be explored with The Hugh Lane and The LAB Gallery.

1. The Story

29 January 2021, 1-2pm

This lecture recounts the history of the city’s public sculpture since the first monuments were erected in the eighteenth century.

2. The Practice

26 February 2021, 1-2pm

This lecture examines the education of sculptors in Dublin, the making of sculpture, the materials used and the location of public sculptural work in the city.

3. The Commission

26 March 2021, 1-2pm

This lecture discusses the commissioning process – how a monument gets to be located in the city. The O’Connell Monument is used as a case study. After the filmed lecture, Jason Ellis, sculptor and sculpture conservator, will talk with Paula Murphy about conservation work on the monument.

4. The Sculptors

30 April 2021, 1-2pm

This lecture introduces some of the major sculptors who worked in Dublin in the nineteenth century and their practice. The contrast between the career of a local sculptor (Thomas Farrell) and an absentee (John Henry Foley) will be explored.

5. The Women

28 May 2021, 1-2pm

This lecture examines the role of women in public sculpture in Dublin, a practice that was largely male-dominated until the mid-twentieth century. The career of sculptor Gabriel Hayes will be used as a case study.

6. The Controversy

25 June 2021, 1-2pm

This lecture identifies the different ways in which public sculpture in Dublin has engendered controversy. Particular emphasis is given to the fate of the Imperial monuments that were erected in the city – most of which were destroyed and/or removed.

About the site

The O’Connell Plinth stands outside City Hall on Dame Street. City Hall was originally built as the Royal Exchange, Dublin’s main centre of trading and commerce in the eighteenth century. It has been the seat of the capital city’s local government since it was purchased and renamed by the City Corporation (now Dublin City Council) in the early 1850s.

The O’Connell Plinth was originally constructed to support a statue of Daniel O’Connell by John Hogan, that is now located in the Rotunda in City Hall. The plinth is located at street level in a paved area leading to the main entrance of City Hall.

About the commission

Artists were invited through a two-stage commission to imagine a new, temporary sculpture for the O’Connell Plinth.

The commissioned artist is Alan Phelan. Read more about the artist and the commission here.


Public survey

We would love to hear your thoughts on public sculpture, what your expectations are and how you would like to get involved with Sculpture Dublin. Let us know by taking 10-minutes to complete this short questionnaire. Thank you!