Pat McCauliffe Architectural Stucco
A kingdom of words and stories, a vibrant artistic centre, Listowel loves and treasures its artists. One of our most loved and treasured is Pat McAuliffe (1846-1921), architectural and stucco artist, whose fusion of architectural schools continue to intrigue and dazzle. McAuliffe’s monumental frontages and sculptures enliven Listowel’s busy streets and preserve an invaluable part of our artistic heritage.
Pat McAuliffe’s most famous work is probably the Maid of Erin frontage, situated in Listowel’s bustling ‘small square’. It depicts a beautiful woman resting her arm on a harp – a romantic personification of Ireland. The base is decorated with spiral patterns and is emblazoned with the overtly nationalistic inscription; ‘Erin Go Bragh’. It is a wonderful work of art and craftsmanship, adding colour and intrigue to one of Listowel’s busiest streetscapes.
Pat McAuliffe’s work also adorns the Harp and Line bar in William Street, which embodies a similar fusion of Celtic and Byzantine elements. Listowel’s neighbouring town Abbeyfeale, in Co Limerick, is also decorated with Pat McAuliffe-crafted shop and building fronts, and it is well worth a visit.
The Man and His Art
Pat McAuliffe’s artistic style has been characterised as ‘ambitious and often exuberant’, employing techniques such as compositional framing of facades. His intriguing frontages and plasterworks display an eclectic mix of styles and influences, ranging from Byzantine, art nouveau and Celtic. Bryan McMahon recognised this daring, wild streak in McAuliffe, in a biographical piece he wrote about one of Listowel’s greatest sons:
‘In retrospect I see him quite clearly, great and black-bearded, his dark eyes alive under a cream-coloured straw hat. He came of an old-established family in the town. As a young man, Pat McAuliffe had in him a restless, imaginative streak that left him dissatisfied with the chores of plastering in an average Irish country town.’