Oisín Kelly

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Oisín Kelly
Austin Kelly

17 May 1915
Dublin, Ireland
Died12 October 1981(1981-10-12) (aged 66)
NationalityIrish, Dublin
Alma materTrinity College, Dublin
Statue of James Larkin on O'Connell Street (1977)

Oisín Kelly (17 May 1915 – 12 October 1981) was an Irish sculptor.

Life and career[edit]

Oisín Kelly was born as Austin Kelly in Dublin, the son of William Kelly, principal of the James Street National School, and his wife, Elizabeth (née McLean).[1] He studied languages at Trinity College, Dublin.[2] Until he became an artist in residence at the Kilkenny Design Centre in 1966, he worked as a teacher of Art, English, Irish and French from 1943 to 1964 at St Columba's College, Dublin. He initially attended night class at the National College of Art and Design and studied briefly in 1948–1949 under Henry Moore.

He originally concentrated on small wood carvings and his early commissions were mostly for Roman Catholic churches. He became well known after he was commissioned to do a sculpture, The Children of Lir (1964), for Dublin's Garden of Remembrance, opened in 1966 on the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising.[3] More public commissions followed, including the statue of James Larkin on Dublin's O'Connell Street.[4]

He figures in five lines of Seamus Heaney's second "Glanmore Sonnet":

"'These things are not secrets but mysteries',/Oisin Kelly told me years ago/In Belfast, hankering after stone/That connived with the chisel, as if the grain/Remembered what the mallet tapped to know."[5]

Works on display[edit]

  • The Children of Lir (1964) Garden of Remembrance, Dublin 1
  • Two Working Men (1969) by County Hall, Cork
  • Roger Casement (1971) Banna Strand, Co. Kerry
  • Jim Larkin (1977) O'Connell Street, Dublin 1
  • Chariot of Life (1982) Irish Life Centre, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1

See also[edit]


  • Fergus Kelly (2015) The Life and Work of Oisín Kelly. Hacketstown, Co Carlow: Derreen Books. (ISBN 978-0-9933063-0-3)
  • Fergus Kelly (2002) Kelly, Oisín, The Encyclopedia of Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. (ISBN 0-7171-3000-2)
  • Judith Hill (1998) Irish public sculpture. Dublin: Four Courts Press. (ISBN 1-85182-274-7)


  1. ^ Biodata, linenhall.com.[dead link]
  2. ^ Oisin Kelly Irish Sculpture, Visual Arts Cork.
  3. ^ "Anglo Ireland Truce Commemoration 1971". www.rte.ie. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  4. ^ "Four Dublin Sculptures". www.riai.ie. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  5. ^ Seamus Heaney. Field Work. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 1979, pg 34.