Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks 1943 Three Graces By Gabriel Hayes (1909-1978)

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Published in the Irish Times, 23 May 2015: p9.

Kindly reproduced with permission from Irish Times


The school of culinary arts and food technology at Technological University Dublin opened to its first students in 1941, on Cathal Brugha Street, as St Mary's College of Domestic Science. Part of the plan for the art-deco building was to place sculpture in chamfered bays outside, at either end of the entrance facade. The sculpture didn't materialise for several years - but when it did arrive it was notable for its depiction of women.

[Hayes] (who later designed the p, 1p and 2p coins) had little opportunity to include women in these sculptures - only one is visible - as the chairman of the board of commissioners preferred to depict men at work. By contrast, images of women were particularly apt for the Cathal Brugha Street building, which was originally dedicated to "women's work". (At the opening of the college, on June 16th, 1941, John Charles McQuaid, the archbishop of Dublin, declared, "I am glad to bless this house, because its work will reach to the foundations of human society. Here, in fact, will be trained the women who will assist in building happy homes, for here will be imparted right knowledge and practice of the home craft.")