Fred Conlon Remembered as Sculpture Unveiled at IT Sligo


The memory of Fred Conlon was resurrected as family, friends and former students and colleagues gathered in IT Sligo library yesterday (24th February) to witness the official unveiling of a sculpture by the renowned artists to mark five decades of IT Sligo.

Influenced by the landscape of his beloved Sligo, the sculpture named “Casadh Na Gaelai” or “Turning of the Moon”, was generously donated to the institute by Fred’s wife Kathleen and family.

The sculpture installed in a courtyard outside the institute’s library is an artists’ copy in bronze of an original piece made of granite, located in Shekina, Co. Wicklow.

Conlon Sculpture

Fred Conlon was a former lecturer at IT Sligo and initiated the sculpture department in the fledgling Art Department when he joined in 1972. Over the next 15 years, Fred would inspire the next generation of artists, generously sharing his talent, knowledge and skills.

Many students would later become nationally and internationally renowned artists in their own right and would remain lifelong friends with Fred. Former students joined in the ceremony including Eileen McDonagh who shared her fond memories of her former tutor and mentor with the audience.

In 1987 Fred took early retirement from the college to pursue a full-time career as a sculptor until his untimely illness and death in 2005.

Former Minister and member of the Governing Body of IT Sligo, Mr Ray MacSharry officially unveiled the sculpture saying it was a fitting installation as the institute goes through another transition towards a Technological University in April:

“Fred Conlon was an intensely talented artist, a perfectionist who captured a view of this world that was almost unworldly. He was a husband, father and dear colleague, a unique talent that we are proud to have known.

A sculpture that possesses the “elements of continuous change” is a fitting symbol for IT Sligo, a place in continuous transition, with new students coming and going each year and the continuous evolution of education as we move towards the new Atlantic Technological University.

Mr MacSharry continued by thanking the Conlon family for sharing Fred’s art with the public: “I want to say a special word of thanks to Fred’s wife, Kathleen and his family who have very generously donated this sculpture to mark the 50th anniversary of IT Sligo. We hope this sculpture inspires many new artists and is enjoyed on this campus for generations to come.”

Fred Conlon was born in Killeenduff, Easkey, Co. Sligo in 1943. Growing up he attended Killeenduff National School and Easkey Vocational School, before being awarded a scholarship to the National College of Art ( NCA) where he studied to become a sculptor.

After graduating from NCAD Fred taught Art for a short while in Navan Vocational School before taking up a position as Assistant Professor of Sculpture in NCAD.

His work has been commissioned all over Ireland with arguably his most famous work being the eight-foot sculpture of Charles Stuart Parnell to mark the 100 anniversary of his death in 1991. He

was also commissioned overseas with sculptures as far away as Japan, a testament to his talent and universal appeal.

Thanking the Conlon family for the donation of the sculpture, President of IT Sligo, Dr Brendan McCormack said:

“It is a great honour as President of IT Sligo to attend the unveiling of this sculpture that has such a deep and personal connection to the institute. Fred Conlon was an internationally respected artist whose talent and eye for detail was envied by many.

This sculpture we see behind me is one of three stunning pieces of art by Fred Conlon generously donated by his family to the Institute of Technology Sligo.

Fred’s life was ended all too prematurely but his impact on life has left an indelible mark on this earth and his memory will be carved forevermore on this campus with this spectacular sculpture.”

IT Sligo will join with GMIT and Letterkenny IT in April to become the newly formed Atlantic Technological University.