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William 'Squires' Gannon captained Kildare to 1928 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship success.
William 'Squires' Gannon captained Kildare to 1928 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship success.

Artwork commissioned to commemorate former Kildare captain

Following an extensive selection process, Kildare County Council have announced that Mark Richards FRSS has been commissioned to create a permanent artwork in Kildare town to commemorate William ‘Squires’ Gannon, who captained Kildare to win the 1928 All-Ireland football final.

‘Squires’ was the first captain to raise the Sam Maguire Cup which is the most treasured trophy in Irish sport. It is expected that the artwork will be installed early in 2021, coinciding with the extensive refurbishment of the Square.  

As well as a sportsman, William was a 'much loved father and grandfather, having a great rapport with children'. His son Paul Gannon, said that the commission was a "great honour for the family and are delighted that my father's achievement will be remembered. I wish that he was around to see it."

John Horan, GAA President, commented: "From 1928 to 1987, the original the Sam Maguire Cup was presented to 54 captains from 12 different counties. It is the dream of every captain to lead his county team to victory in the All-Ireland final. I wholeheartedly welcome the announcement of this statue in honour of a wonderful Irishman and look forward to its installation."

Ken Morley, Chairperson of the Round Towers Club in Kildare Town said: 'Round Towers GAA Club is honoured that the legendary William 'Squires' Gannon was one of our own. Although he was the first man to lift the Sam Maguire Cup, he also won three county championships with Round Towers. Words such as modesty, community spirit and hard work are synonymous with the great man. It is fitting that ‘Squires’, who is held in such high regard in Kildare and further afield, will have his life and achievements celebrated with the erection of this commemorative sculpture.'"

Mayor of Kildare and member of the selection panel, Cllr Suzanne Doyle, commented: "It was very important that the selected piece of work to celebrate Squires Gannon, demonstrated both the significance of winning the first Sam Maguire trophy and the integrity of the County Captain. I think Mark's presentation evokes these qualities beautifully. the likeness and spirit of his subjects has won him international acclaim."

Mark Richards created the definitive sculpture of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, located near his birthplace in South Kildare in 2016. Further commissions include an artwork commemorating hurling legend Nicky Rackard in his native Wexford in 2012 and a bronze of singer Big Tom McBride in Castleblaney in 2018. Richards is unfazed by the challenges of ambitious commissions. 

His most recent is the Vernon Monument, a three-metre high sculpture of two divers working on a mine at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth.  On being awarded the commission, he stated "I am delighted to have been awarded the commission to create a sculpture of Bill ‘Squires’ Gannon and look forward to conveying this remarkable man as the modest hero that he so clearly is."

The Square in Kildare town has already had an artistic boost this year, with the refurbishment of the Brigid’s Flame in Kildare, to include an elegant domed glass ‘flame’ acorn. It was created by the artist Alex Pentek.

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