'Invaluable contribution' of Mayo native to Singapore commemorated
The Minister for European Affairs, Dick Roche T.D., together with Mr George Yeo,
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore today inaugurated one of the late
Brother Joseph McNally's most famous works - a 2.5m high bronze casting of
Counsellor II at the National Museum of Country Life in Castlebar, Co.
The beautiful sculpture has been donated by the people of Singapore to the
people of Ireland in recognition of Brother McNally's invaluable
contribution to education, the arts and inter-religious understanding in
Singapore. The late Brother McNally spent almost 40 years teaching in
Singapore and asked to be "remembered as a teacher".
Speaking at the event this morning Minister Roche stated:
"Today is a very special occasion for the McNally Family, his home county
and for Ireland and Singapore. It is wonderful to be here on the west coast
of Ireland at the National Museum of Country Life to mark the coming home
of a work executed across the world by one of Mayo's most famous sons.
George Yeo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, is a personification
of the warm friendship for Ireland engendered by Brother McNally and
others. His delegation of over 30 people is made up of Singaporeans who
were influenced by Ireland. Some continued their involvement and came to
study in Ireland and strengthened their ties even more.
The Committee in Singapore worked extremely diligently to arrange for the
handover of this wonderful piece. We are very grateful to them for so
generously honouring Brother McNally and for putting such a huge effort
into personally accompanying the sculpture of Counsellor II to Ireland. It
is poignant and fitting that we should have been joined today by so many of
Brother Joe's family and friends."
Note for Editors:
Bro. Joseph McNally was born in Ballintubber, Co Mayo in 1923. He joined
the La Salle Brothers in 1939 and undertook a life dedicated to religion,
teaching and art. Almost 58 years ago, on 20 October 1946, Bro McNally
first landed in Singapore and pursued a 38 year career in teaching.
No other Irish person has contributed as much to the arts in Singapore as
has Bro. McNally: he educated people from all walks of life to take their
places among the leaders of Singapore and Malaysia; in 1984, he founded the
Arts Centre that was to become the internationally renowned and respected
LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts which now awards degrees to Masters level;
he helped attract international artists and institutes to the city state;
and he made time to create a large number of memorable and inspiring
Singapore officially recognised Bro McNally's contribution on two
occasions: in 1990 with the Public Service Medal and in 1997 with
Singapore's highest award, the National Meritorious Service Medal. He also
received the Mont Blanc de la Culture Award in 1998. In Ireland, he
received Honorary Doctorates from the National University of Ireland (1995)
and the National College of Art and Design (2000). He was also recognised
as Mayo Man of the Year in 1996. Elsewhere, he received awards from
Universities in Indonesia and Australia and a Paul Harris Fellowship from
Brother McNally executed many public commissions, including the main
sculpture at the Headquarters of the Ministry of Information,
Communications and the Arts in Singapore and another at the Shanghai Office
of the OCBC Bank of Singapore. His work is also in the collections of the
Singapore Arts Museum, the Singapore and Irish Governments, and AIB Group,
as well as in other public and private collections in Singapore, Ireland
and the United States. The Office of Public Works hosted an exhibition of
Brother McNally's work in March 2004.