History of the Connor/Crean Centre
In 1988 the late Domhnaill O'Murchada RHA, former Director of the National College of Art and Design, donated eight plaster casts by the Irish American sculptor, Jerome Connor (1874 -1943) to the community of Annascaul (Connors birth place). Domhnaill O'Murchadha RHA had been impressed with the Connors Sculptures and the way the community in Annascaul took his talent seriously.
In particular, he was impressed with the holding of a sculpture seminar and workshop weekend in Annascaul in 1988.
The gift was given on condition that a suitable commemorative centre be erected to house and promote the works. With the generous help of the Electricity Supply Board, the plaster works were caste in bronze and a 'Jerome Connor Trust' was formed to care for the collection.
At this time also the international and local community was awakening to Tom Crean's importance in the field of Antarctic exploration.
It was decided to do something worthy to commemorate and celebrate
the lives of these two extraordinary men, all those who were forced
to emigrate from their homeland (The Irish Diaspora) and also to
commemorate the famine. What emerged was a plan for a centre of
excellence, a living - working centre of art integrated into the
local community. This will be called The Connor Crean Centre.
With this in view we approached the late P.J. Moriarty the then CE of the ESB. He was aware of the international importance of both men. Mr. Moriartys advice to us and his assistance through the ESB have been immeasurable.
In 1994 with the assistance of the ESB we developed an Integrated Area Development Plan (updated in 1996) for the development of the whole area. The Connor Crean Centre is the main plank in this plan.
Robin Wade of RWPR Design Partnership and Valerie Mulvin of the McCullough Mulvin Architectural Partnership are employed to design and plan the centre. Malachy Walsh and partners are engineering consultants. The centre is designed to be built in three phases.
The Jerome Connor School of Sculpture. A huge fundraising effort coupled with a grant from the South Kerry Development Partnership made it possible to lay the foundation stones for this phase, the school of sculpture. Minister Sile DeVelara did this in April of 1999. One year later Minister John O'Donoghue performed the official opening of the school. FÁS, the National Training Agency became tenants and ran a stone carving apprenticeship and skills course.
An Exhibition Gallery to house the Connor Collection and the Crean memorabilia will also include a one hundred seat auditorium, which will have an audio/visual display.
will include an entrance shop, a coffee shop and a temporary exhibition area.
Artists impression of the completed project as it will be viewed from Annascaul BridgeA department for the appreciation of the environment and the ecology of the area will also be included in the centre. This will be done with the assistance of the Department of Biological Sciences of East Anglia University.