THE CHARIOT OF LIFE BY OISIN KELLY

THE CHARIOT OF LIFE BY OISIN KELLY

I visited this complex on Saturday afternoon and almost became trapped within an area by a number shutters that started to close without warning. Fortunately I managed to get through one just before it had fully shut. You may not realise it but there is a barrier in front of this water feature blocking access to Abbey Street.

Oisin Kelly's large copper-bronze sculpture depicts the figure of a charioteer which 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 was hidden behind hoarding in the courtyard of the Irish Life building on Abbey Street for an extended period.

The restoration work was completed in 2017 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 features in Ireland are dry.


I have always referred to this complex of offices and shops as The Irish Life Centre but a few days ago a friend who lives on Talbot Street referred to it as the Talbot Mall.

Not long after the original Irish life complex was completed I decided to purchase an apartment within it but as a result of advice received from a number of sources I decided to cancel the process and I am really glad that I did because the shopping area could now be best described as a "ghost mall" and has been so for many years.

Talbot Mall, formerly known as Irish Life Shopping Mall prior its 2013 rebranding, is described as a small shopping centre located between Talbot Street and Abbey Street. It is part of a complex which are the Irish Life buildings on Abbey Street, and other office facilities. The car park is accessible from Abbey street and exits on to Gardner Street.

Within the overall complex there was a large colourful mosaic known as Sweeney Ashtray. The glass mosaic was comprised of 12 panels depicting the story of Sweeney’s wanderings through forests and hills, from prose and poems dating back to the 1600s and updated by Seamus Heaney in the early 1980s. Derry artist Desmond Kinney, who completed the work in 1987 also has about thirty other works around the city but many have reached the end of life and some are due to be removed or relocated.

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