Two Working Men

Coordinates: 51°53′35″N 8°30′29″W / 51.893°N 8.508°W / 51.893; -8.508
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Two Working Men
ArtistOisín Kelly
LocationCork County Hall, Cork
Coordinates51°53′35″N 8°30′29″W / 51.893°N 8.508°W / 51.893; -8.508

Two Working Men (Irish: Beirt Fhear Oibre) are a pair of statues made by the Irish sculptor Oisín Kelly.[1] The piece took Kelly three years to create and was unveiled in front of the County Hall in Cork in 1969. As with other works of public art in the region, the statues took on a local colloquial name, and are still commonly known as "Cha and Miah".[2]


The Two Working Men looking at the Cork County Hall

Two Working Men became Kelly's second statue on public display, after his acclaimed Children of Lir was unveiled at Dublin's Garden of Remembrance in 1966.[3] That year, Kelly received a commission for a new statue, to be erected outside Liberty Hall in Dublin, which at the time was Ireland's tallest building and the headquarters of the SIPTU trade union.[1][4]

Before the statues were to be moved outside Liberty Hall however, SIPTU deemed that they would pose a traffic hazard.[3] In 2007 Desmond Rea O'Kelly, architect of Liberty Hall, reflected on this lost opportunity:[5]

One of the other things I also regret very much is that Oisín Kelly's great sculpture of the young man and the older man admiring their work was never put up outside Liberty Hall.

The work was instead unveiled in front of Cork's new county hall building in 1969, which during the time the statues were being made had unseated Liberty Hall as the tallest building in Ireland.[5] (It would remain the tallest building in Ireland until 2008.)[6]

The statues were removed for a period during the redevelopment of the County Hall, but were replaced in 2006.[2]

Appearance and legacy[edit]

The statues consist of two men, one tall and thin and the other shorter and stout. The shorter man is shown wearing a cap and clasping his hands behind his back while the taller man's hands are placed on his hips. Both men are gazing skyward, ostensibly at the top of the building. The statue's key message is to profile the common "everyday Irish person" admiring the finished product of work in a modern Ireland.

In the years after their unveiling, the statues became known locally as "Cha and Miah".[2] The label derives from the names of two "everyman" Cork characters on the Hall's Pictorial Weekly television show which became popular in the early 1970s.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Neil Collins. "Oisin Kelly- Wood Carver, Stone and Bronze Sculptor From Dublin, Ireland". Retrieved 16 October 2008.
  2. ^ a b c "Official opening today of refurbished Cork County Hall". The Irish Emigrant. 25 June 2006. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
  3. ^ a b Bridget Haggerty. "Landmarks commemorating The 1916 Rising". Irish Culture and Customs. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
  4. ^ " - Headquarters/address". SIPTU. Archived from the original on 26 October 2008. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Should union be at liberty to pull down Hall?". The Irish Times. 3 March 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
  6. ^ Roche, Barry (18 September 2008). "Praise for new 'landmark' tower in Cork". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  7. ^ " - Hall's Pictorial Weekly - Characters". IMDB. Retrieved 16 October 2008.