Statue of Captain Ahab to be unveiled in Youghal

Statue of Captain Ahab to be unveiled in Youghal
The sculpture by Matthew Thompson of Captain Ahab from Moby Dick.

THE town of Youghal feted film star Gregory Peck during the making of the film Moby Dick in 1954 when people flocked by car, train and bicycle to catch a glimpse of the movie idol.

Now, a life-size Captain Ahab, commemorating Moby Dick, is set to become another iconic hero in the east cork town. The sculpture, recently completed by Cloyne-based Mathew Thompson, will become a permanent feature on Youghal’s quayside attracting visitors from near and far.

Actor Gregory Peck on the set of the film 'Moby Dick' at Youghal in 1954.
Actor Gregory Peck on the set of the film 'Moby Dick' at Youghal in 1954.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the sculpture,” says volunteer with Youghal4All, Helen Heapy Grainge. Youghal4All is a group of ordinary people, all with something to offer, that are keen to improve the town.

“The fabulous piece commemorating Moby Dick is completed and 90% ready to go as soon as works are completed on the quayside,” says Helen.

The sculpture by Matthew Thompson of Captain Ahab from Moby Dick.
The sculpture by Matthew Thompson of Captain Ahab from Moby Dick.

“When local engineer, John Kelly, put the job out to tender two years ago, we got five or six replies back. Mathew Thompson has done a great job,” says Helen.

“Our volunteer group, formed in 2011 for the betterment of Youghal, had a vision to commemorate the making of John Heuston’s Moby Dick.

“Youghal was chosen as a location for the film because of its likeness to our town which is twinned with New Bedford, USA, where the film is set. We got funding from Cork County Council and from the Sons of St. Patrick in New Bedford for the sculpture.”

“Youghal businesses were very generous with sponsorship all rowing in for the €35,000 cost.”

The blockbuster movie Moby Dick, starring Gregory Peck and Noel Purcell was filmed at Youghal in July 1954.
The blockbuster movie Moby Dick, starring Gregory Peck and Noel Purcell was filmed at Youghal in July 1954.

Moby Dick or The Whale, is an 1851 novel by American writer Herman Melville.

“We’re hoping the sculpture will attract lots of American tourists and provide photo opportunities that will be seen around the world, giving Youghal fantastic exposure. Coaches with visitors from the USA can stop on the quayside and they can get close up to Captain Ahab.

Youghal 4 All members Helen-Heaphy Grainge, Packie White, Adrian Hyde, Jim Flanagan, Sandra Mclellan with sculptor Matthew Thompson.
Youghal 4 All members Helen-Heaphy Grainge, Packie White, Adrian Hyde, Jim Flanagan, Sandra Mclellan with sculptor Matthew Thompson.

Youghal Chamber of Development and Tourist Officer Manager, Sandra Mclellan, who is also PRO officer of Youhal4All, hopes the life-sized Kilkenny marble sculpture of Captain Abub commemorating Moby Dick, will prove to be an economic boost to the town.

“When Moby Dick was filmed here in 1954, it gave a huge economic boost to the town, creating local employment,” says Sandra.

“The sculpture is an amazing body of work created by the gifted sculptor, Mathew Thompson. It will surely resonate with tourists from all over the world. Photographs circulated on social media will help us gain instant recognition attracting even more visitors to Youghal.

“We are all looking forward to the completion of council works on the quayside so that the sculpture can be a landmark of huge interest on the quayside.”

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