A statute of Brother Walfrid was unveiled at the main entrance to Celtic Park on 5th September 2005 after a fundraising campaign by Celtic supporters to commemorate the Marist Brother who was pivotal in the club’s foundation. The Walfrid Statue has become a main focal point of Celtic Park for visitors and has been joined by statues of both Jimmy Johnstone and Jock Stein. Yet there are some details about the statue which remain unfamiliar.
The statue was designed and created by artist Kate Robinson, a graduate of Glasgow School of Art. Made from bronze and granite, it has a bronze sculpture based on the familiar photograph taken of Walfrid as a young Marist Brother and four figurative plinth plaques which each represent an element of the Celtic Story.
The statue was unveiled by Celtic Chairman Brian Quinn, Walfrid’s fellow Sligoman and former player and asst. manager Sean Fallon, Walfrid’s grand-niece and grand-nephew and two refugees who had moved to Glasgow in recent years.
It has become an East End landmark and an iconic Celtic piece of art.
The sculpture of Walfrid himself is the well-known centrepiece of Kate Robinson’s work but the four plaques and the reverse are also of interest.
The first plaque, the first photo featured here, reminds us of Walfrid’s innovation of starting penny dinner tables while the headteacher at Sacred Heart School in Bridgeton to encourage children to attend school and to ensure they were fed. Walfrid’s project was administered by the St Vincent de Paul Society. Like Walfrid himself, the East End of Glasgow was home to thousands of refugees from Ireland. Celtic Football Club was established to raise funds to address the social needs of this community.
The plaque above contains the Willie Maley quote about the club in which he played such a prominent role: It’s Not the Creed nor Nationality that Counts, It’s the Man Himself. It features Celtic’s first manager himself and representations of three players in the first three main Celtic jerseys (Celtic cross, green and white stripes, green and white hoops). It also has an engraving of a Celtic brake club and its banner being taken to an early game by horse.
This plaque celebrates the club’s greatest achievement, being declared Champions of Europe on 25th May 1967. With Jock Stein’s quote describing the style of play which took Celtic to the pinnacle – Pure Beautiful Inventive Football – it has the big cup itself, a packed Celtic Park and images of Jock Stein and (what looks like) Billy McNeill.
The fourth and final plaque has illustrates today’s Celtic support in a packed Celtic Park (with four modern stands!) proudly singing You’ll Never Walk Alone and the Celtic players on the pitch in a Huddle before engaging in battle.
Altogether, it is a magnifcent memorial to a man dedicated to the well-being of his community and that one particular brainchild – a football club – which is still going strong over 125 years later. Take the chance on your next visit of a closer view at all the wonderful detail that has gone into this work – including the reverse with the large four leaf clover on show.
More information on the artist Kate Robinson can be found on her website: http://www.seedbed.net/index.html
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Visit our online gallery of Celtic-related art here: https://theshamrockglasgow.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/art-of-the-celts-the-series/