This sculpture is known locally as the “Mad Milkman” so every time I see it I think of Benny Hill’s Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)".
The really large copper-bronze sculpture depicts the figure of a charioteer said to represents reason controlling the emotions. It was unveiled in 1982, the year following the sculptor's death, on the Irish Life Centre plaza, on Dublin's Lower Abbey Street.
This is Kelly’s largest work and it has been behind hoarding in the courtyard of the Irish Life building on Abbey Street for many months. The restoration work has recently been completed and it appears to have been moved closer to Abbey Street which is a good thing. I think that it looks much better than it did and I do hope that the water continues to flow because the majority of water water features in Ireland are dry.
Oisín Kelly (1915 - 1981) was born Austin Kelly in Dublin, and worked as a teacher until he became artist in residence at the Kilkenny Design Centre in 1966. He initially attended night class at the National College of Art and studied under Henry Moore from 1948–1949.
At first Kelly made small wood carvings and early commissions were mostly for Catholic churches. He became well known after he was commissioned to do a sculpture, The Children of Lir (1964), for Parnell Square's Garden of Remembrance
, which opened in 1966 on the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. More public commissions followed, including the statue of James Larkin on Dublin's O'Connell Street and Chariot of Life at the Irish Life Centre.