Design Brief: Memorial Bench for Aengus and Jack Finucane
Aengus and Jack Finucane’s history with Concern goes back to the very earliest days. They were on the ground in Biafra, already part of the starvation relief effort in 1968 when, as part of the Irish response to the world’s first televised famine, a young Irish couple – John & Kay O’Loughlin-Kennedy – formed Africa Concern. That organisation, which is now Concern Worldwide, channelled the generosity of the Irish people into the strong and assured hands of young priests such as Jack and his older brother Aengus, who had brought to their parishes in Nigeria both the grit and grace of a Limerick upbringing.
Both Freemen of Limerick City, an honour of which they were immensely proud, Aengus and Jack dedicated their lives to the work of Concern, delivering lifesaving and life-altering interventions to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people for the greater part of their lives, often at great personal risk to themselves. They were the humanitarian equivalent of yin and yang: Aengus was the politician: passionate, publicly angry at injustice, a sociable and accomplished networker; Jack was the diplomat; no less passionate but in a private and reserved fashion, he was always reflective, a problem solver.
President Michael D. Higgins once said that the Finucane brothers were “unstoppable forces, seeing no such thing as an unsolvable problem. Whether one was right or wrong, get on with it and do something, and do it now. There was a sense of immediacy, and a kind of raw humanity.”
Justice, humanity and action were what defined these giants of a man who helped carve out the path of professional Irish humanitarian response that we still follow today. What they achieved may never be fully quantified but they saved and improved the lives of millions of people, bringing compassion to chaos, humanity to the most inhumane situations. Our responsibility is to ensure that their legacy lives on.
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the foundation of Concern. The organisation, which owes much of its success to the Finucane brothers, now works in 27 of the poorest countries in the world. Everything and nothing has changed about Concern since 1968: while technology has transformed many aspects of how humanitarian aid is delivered, Concern’s fundamental philosophy (and a famous Finucane phrase) – do as much as you can, as well as you can, for as many as you can, for as long as you can – has not shifted an iota.
We have been given permission by Limerick City Council to erect a commemorative bench dedicated to the memory of the Finucane brothers at a site along the Shannon in Limerick City. The exact location is to be agreed with the Council.
We now wish to appoint a provider to design, create and install the artwork.
Scale, material and budget
We (along with the sponsor and Limerick County Council) wish this to be a statement piece both in terms of scale and design (we are thus open to a broad interpretation of ‘bench’). There is an openness in terms of the material to be used but consideration should be given to durability and maintenance.
The piece is being partially privately sponsored by a Concern supporter who wishes to remain anonymous.
Concern’s vision for this tribute to the Finucane brothers is that it should be a place where passer-by’s can stop to rest; a place of quiet reflection but also where one might be inspired. It should somehow symbolise the unstoppable forces that these two giants of men were in the face of injustice and suffering. The bench should be African-inspired, as it was in Africa where the Finucane brothers’ story with Concern began and where they continued to work for the greater part of their lives, but it should also have a Limerick connection, reflective of their love of their home-place.
It is up to the designers to capture the spirit of the Finucane brothers and deliver on the brief, however, if we were to say what we thought it could be, we might envision something of a big rustic-style bench or chair(s) that will stand the test of time, possibly erected on a base or platform made from stone from the Famine Walls or the Walls of Limerick and with the backrest of the bench in the shape of Africa. This could be engraved with a dedication to the Finucane brothers and / or possibly Aengus’s favourite quote, which became his mantra in life: “Do as much as you can, as well as you can, for as many as you can, for as long as you can.”
But this is only to give an example of what we think, and we welcome other design ideas.
Giant/ Compassionate/Can do/Irish/Limerick/Our History/Famine/Hunger/Conflict/ Africa/ Respect/Dignity/Ambitious/Pragmatic / Family, Faith and Concern
Ideally, the piece would be launched in 2018 as this marks the 50th anniversary of Concern. However, consideration will be given to a 2019 launch if conditions demand.
A selection committee, including representatives from the sponsor, the Finucane family, and Concern, has been established.
Three potential suppliers have been identified. After a lengthy consultation process, which included presentations from each of the identified suppliers and interviews the contract to produce the memorial bench was awarded to Tom Roche and Knut Klimmek.
Here you will see how we interpreted the above brief...<<CLICK HERE>>
Delighted to be awarded the #FinucaneMemorialBench contract by @Concern A fab project for my return to the 'bench'. See dedicated website for all the info and please share https://t.co/THKzN7UkT3 @IDEAIreland @Comhlamh @IrishEnvNet @Dochasnetwork pic.twitter.com/2qNiueVZ3x— Tom Roche (Just Forests) (@Justforests) July 25, 2018