“For the Love of Emer” is located at the bottom of Scotch Street in Armagh City Centre. The 30 foot stainless steel structure depicts the “Hound of Ulster” (Cuchulainn) balancing atop a tilting 20 foot pole.
The sculpture is part of a wider public art programme rolled out across the city in 2010. It was funded by what was Armagh and City district council, now Armagh, Banbridge Craigavon Borough Council, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department for Social Development.
Martin Heron is from Northern Ireland but he now lives in England. He studied Fine Art at Liverpool University. The majority of his work involves design and production of work for public spaces – art that is relevant to its location. He works mainly to commission for public bodies; local councils, corporate and private clients.
Martin Heron said his inspiration came from the stories told about Cuchulainn’s search for a wife. Cuchulainn has strong associations with the Armagh area as he is said to have been brought up at his uncle’s palace at Emain Macha. (Navan Fort).
Having set his sights on Emer, the daughter of Forgall Monach, Cuchulainn had to prove himself in battle and as a warrior. As part of this task, Cuchulainn had to master the art of balancing on the butt of a spear or the rim of a shield!
Mr Heron said: “I chose to focus on the unusual aspect of the Cuchulainn story. This piece does not focus on the great heroic deeds, great battles won, or warriors slayed. It is about overcoming one of many tasks faced by a hero. A task that resonates with us all; the art of balancing ourselves with the world around us, the balance of love and hope and achieving the seemingly impossible through hard work and perseverance.”
The Association with the Lilliputians
This piece resonates with each of the four people in the Lilliputians Group of Armagh Ambassadors:
- Joanne McElmeel lives beside the base of Navan Fort which was Cuchulainn’s playground.
- Rosaleen Litter works at the Navan Centre and Fort which is the home of the Ulster tale.
- Joanne McCracken resembles Emer from the story.
- Des McDermott – well we all know Des is a legend!
Written by the Lilliputian Group, Armagh Ambassadors