"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, December 14, 2021


This 2007 sculpture of Grainne or Gráinne stands in Heritage Green Park in Chicago, Illinois. A nearby stone marker describes it in English:

A Gift from the City of Galway, Ireland
Sister City of Chicago
August 2007
Sculptor Maurice Harron

A similar stone says  the same thing in Gaelic:

Bronntanas O Chathair Na Gaillimhe Eire
Chomhchathair Chicago
Lunasa 2007
Dealbhoir Muriris O’ Hearain

Spelled in Gaelic script that's:

pronounced ˈɡɾˠaːn̠ʲə, which according to Wikipedia is "'Grawn-ya' in all dialects bar Ulster Irish where it is pronounced as 'Grah-nya'".  It's English equivalent would be Grace or Gertrude.

Architecture Chicago quotes the Press Release.

Irish sculptor Maurice Harron won a competition to create Grainne ("grace" in Gaelic), who symbolizes, in the words of the city's press release, "the traditional Gaelic society before it dramatically changed in the 1600’s and is inspired by an archeological finding of a young girl preserved in a peat bog. Pre-historic European sculptures of women were depicted with the left hand raised while those of men used the right hand, thought to be a gesture of blessing. The base of the sculpture is derived from the famous Turoe Stone, a Celtic pagan monument from County Galway, dating from the time of Christ. "

 The Artist's CV contains this entry.

‘Grainne’. ( August 2007) Bronze, 2.5 meters high. Commissioned by Galway City Council, dedicated by Mayor of Chicago Richard Daley and Mayor of Galway Tom Costello. Heritage Green, W. Adams & Des Plaines, Chicago, USA.

Chicago's Sister City Project quotes Harron on the meaning of the statue.

During the sculpture’s 2007 dedication, the artist stated: “The sculpture called “Gráinne” (Grace in Gaelic) is conceived as the Daughter of a 14th Century Irish Chieftain. Her costume depicts the customary dress of pre-1600 Irish women. They wore elaborate hair plaits and turbans, as are seen on Gráinne. She stands, making a gesture with her left hand to her throat. It is believed this gesture represented goodwill.”

Heritage Green Park is just across Des Plaines Avenue from St. Patrick's Church in Chicago's West Loop Neighborhood. The Connacht Tribune says that “The location lies in the shadows of Sears Tower, Union Station and opposite Old St. Patrick’s Church, where all Irish emigrants first called when they arrived in Chicago.”


Heritage Green is a reclaimed surface parking lot, and now it seems a dog walking spot. Dees Stribling remarked in 2009 that
Though not officially considered a dog park, the human and canine population of the near West Side have apparently taken to it in a big way. I saw a handful of dogs walking their humans in the few minutes I was there. The park is probably a smellfest we humans will never fully appreciate.


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