Artist Padraig Tarrant designed sculptures for Ireland and Newfoundland that commemorate the first subsea telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean. The monument in Heart’s Content will be formally unveiled on Thursday.
The connections go back much farther, of course, but it was 151 years ago that Newfoundland and Ireland were physically linked by a length of cable.
On Thursday morning, artist Padraig Tarrant will unveil a sculpture in Heart’s Content to commemorate the first transatlantic telegraph cable coming ashore.
The stone monument has a matching one on Valentia Island, in Ireland.
“I thought about maybe trying to connect the two locations again, but the connection would be trying to articulate a physical connection. So I thought the shape of the ship’s bollard,” Tarrant said.
“I thought that’s a symbol of something tying up to the land, connecting to the land. So if I use that on both sides of the Atlantic … it becomes almost a part of the land.”
Tarrant said he hasn’t been to Newfoundland before — his first visit will be for the unveiling. He’s originally from County Kerry, near Valentia Island.
He said he’s amazed by the feat of connecting that cable across the ocean in the middle of the 19th century.
He said as far as he’s concerned, it’s more important to look to the future than to dwell on the past, but it’s nice to remember where we came from.
“Yes, I believe we’ve forgotten how progress helped us,” he said.
“I think that we do forget, because I look at old pictures of cities going back to the late 1800s and pictures of horses going up and down the street, and I think, the smell must have been horrendous. The smell of horse manure and the streets were dirt and I imagine people trying to cross the street with muck and dirt. It’s a nice romantic picture. Yes, there is a tendency to forget how we got to where we are.”