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'With these Hands', Remembering Séamus Murphy 1907-1975

The work of noted stone-carver Séamus Murphy is to be seen throughout Ireland. The tools he used to carve these pieces will form the central focus of the exhibition ‘With These Hands’ at Cork Public Museum.  Photographs of his various works will surround his tools. This exhibition aims to bring the work of Séamus Murphy to an audience that otherwise may never see these works in situ.

Born in county Cork in 1907, Séamus Murphy was one of the foremost stone carvers and sculptors of his time. He worked as an apprentice stone carver at John Aloysius O’Connor’s stoneyard in Blackpool, Cork from 1922 to 1930. In 1931 he received a scholarship which enabled him to go to London and then to Paris where he was a student at the Academic Colo Rossi.  Here he studied under the Irish-American sculptor Andrew O’Connor. On his return to Cork he worked at O’Connor’s stoneyard once more. In 1934 he opened his own studio in Blackpool. Among his first commissions were the Clonmult memorial at Midleton, two statues for Bantry Church and a carved figure of St. Gobnait in Ballyvourney graveyard.

The Virgin of the Twilight was exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1943. It was later erected in Fitzgerald Park and is now permanently housed in the Crawford Art Gallery. Also in Fitzgerald Park is the beautiful work Dreamline, the bust of Michael Collins and the Seasons can be seen on the bandstand. In 1939 he exhibited at the World Fair in New York. In 1944 he was elected Associate of the RHA. That same year he married Maighread Higgins, daughter of Cork sculptor Joseph Higgins. Higgins work, Boy with Boat can be seen on the pond in Fitzgerald Park. In 1945 Seamus Murphy designed Blackpool Church for William Dwyer. In 1947 he carved the Apostles and St. Grigid for St. Brigid’s Church in San Fransisco.


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