BY PHILIPPA KENNEDY
A BRONZE statuette by Molly Malone sculptor Jeanne Rynhart has been presented to Bantry Bay Golf Club by her husband Derek.
The three-foot tall cold cast bronze – called ‘River of Time’ – was donated by the Rynhart family as a tribute to the close friendship the Dublin-born sculptor had with current lady captain Mrs Deirdre Kingston and their long association with the club.
It will be presented to future lady captains for the duration of their year in office and kept at the club. Their names will be inscribed on a plinth that is currently being made.
Mrs Kingston, who was friends with the Rynharts since 1981, said: ‘It is a wonderful honour for the club and for me, personally, it is a beautiful reminder of our friendship.
‘We first met at a party in Bantry and got on very well right from the start. Jeanne and Derek were great party people and we went around as a group. We’d go on holiday together or off to the islands for a weekend.
‘My husband, Matt, died in 1999 and they were superb friends at that time. This statuette means a lot to me because of our friendship.’
The Rynharts’ association with Bantry Bay Golf Club dates back to the ’80s when, together with the AIB, they used to sponsor an annual open competition, providing prizes from Jeanne’s vast body of work.
Said Derek, 76: ‘We were never golfers but we would go to the club socially with Deirdre and Matt. Deirdre was Jeanne’s best friend. We had great fun together when Matt was still alive.
‘He was great on the piano and the parties would go on for hours. In fact you can still see the cigarette burn mark on our piano.’
Jeanne Rynhart, who created the iconic Molly Malone statue that sits at Suffolk Street, Dublin, lived with her husband Derek in Ballylickey from 1980 until her death, at the age of 74, in June this year.
Her other works include the statue of Wolfe Tone in Bantry’s main square, the Annie Moore statue in Cobh and on Ellis Island, New York and the commemorative statue of the first Rose of Tralee, Mary O’Connor in Tralee. Co Kerry. Her busts of Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift are in the Dublin Writer’s Museum and a Rynhart bust of James Joyce is in New York City Library. The Molly Malone statue was created in 1988 for the Dublin Millennium celebrations.
Jeanne, whose maiden name was Scuffil, was born on St Patrick’s Day (March 17th) in Dublin. She graduated from the National College of Art and Design in 1969 and she and Derek went to live in Coventry, England.
They moved back to Ireland in the 80s with their two children, where they set up one of the first bronze craft studios in Ireland. Jeanne’s work included both small figurative cold cast bronze sculptures of flower sellers, birds of prey, historical figures, fishermen, horses, sailing boats and musical instruments as well as bronze life-size statues.
Derek, a mechanical engineer whose main work was on engines, created a form of casting using silicon that produced high definition and durable moulds. They set up a studio at the back of their home where Jeanne made the original models and maquettes in clay and Derek made the moulds and hand cast each piece.
As Jeanne’s popularity and fame grew, they expanded production, setting up a larger facility that employed 10 people, eventually moving to the newly-built Bantry Enterprise Centre, until a fire destroyed all her work in the winter of 1996.
The pair carried on their work in a temporary studio until they set up at new premises in Drimoleague Mill where they had a gallery and coffee shop. They were assisted by their two children.
Throughout her life, Jeanne supported various charities, including Rehab Bantry and the Chernobyl Children’s Project. When she died, obituaries told of her great warmth, charm, wisdom and modesty.