Barge carrying third Luke Kelly sculpture wedged in Royal Canal

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There are fears the blockage could hamper the unveiling of a statue of Matt Damon in Dalkey this weekend.

PLANS TO UNVEIL a third sculpture honouring renowned musician Luke Kelly were were plunged into chaos this morning after a barge carrying the giant copper figure ran aground in the Royal Canal. 

The vessel is now wedged in both sides of the waterway close to Phibsborough in the north of Dublin city and officials now fear it could take days to shift. 

The Royal Canal, which was completed in 1817, fell into disuse in the latter part of the 20th Century but was restored in more recent years. 

Aside from tourism, it’s also occasionally used for commercial transport – primarily as a means to transport sculptures and statues from the Ever Green studio in Co Longford.

Two Kelly sculptures have already been installed in Dublin in recent years. The third figure was commissioned after plans to install a mechanism to allow the sculpture of Kelly’s head on Sheriff Street to sing old Dubliners songs was abandoned.

There are fears that the blockage could harm the progress of other sculptures coming to Dublin, including two marble busts of Kelly’s Dubliners bandmate Ronnie Drew set to be placed at the end of the North and South Bull Walls at the mouth of the Liffey and one of the Hollywood actor Matt Damon which was set to be unveiled in Dalkey this weekend.

Complicating matters, the mechanism allowing for the Kelly sculpture to ‘sing’ was jammed in the on position this morning as the barge made its initial impact and commuters reported hearing snippets of ‘Monto’ and ‘Raglan Road’ as they passed through the area on their way to work. 

Nick Suez, chief spokesperson for Canalways Ireland, told The Journal that it may take some time to shift the barge given the size of the weight of the sculpture. 

“We’ve a rocky road ahead,” he said.

“It’s wedged in there tight. We’re desperate to get things moving on this busy passage again soon. And I am f*****g sick of the jokes. If I hear one more person talking about ‘a hungry feeling’ to get moving again, it can rot there for all I care.”

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The beleaguered captain of the boat told reporters that he believes the ship running aground is a blessing in disguise. 

“We’re just stuck here in Phibsborough,” he said.

“I’m a big Luke Kelly fan and in the little gaps between the songs, it’s almost like I can hear the auld triangle being rung.”

Something that won’t be jingle jangling, however, are the captain’s pockets as it has emerged he will personally incur any costs involved with shifting the boat. 

He added he is currently in negotiations to hire a digger to help shift the boat, although most of the diggers in the city are busy in the initial construction phase of the foundations for the giant Jedward sculpture set for the Phoenix Park. 

An aerial image showing the statue of Kelly in the beleaguered barge.

An aerial image showing the statue of Kelly in the beleaguered barge.

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