Master McGrath finally returns home to the town centre

Master McGrath on his plinth in High Street, Lurgan. INLM32-125gc
Master McGrath on his plinth in High Street, Lurgan. INLM32-125gc

The Master McGrath statue has finally returned to Lurgan town centre following a six-year campaign.

The bronze icon has spent its first weekend in Lurgan, having been moved on Friday to High Street.

Craigavon councillors backed the move for his return following a campaign spearheaded by Dermot McCabe and Charlie Gardiner.

The statue had been gifted to Craigavon Borough Council by the Brownlow family in 1993 on the condition it was kept in a secure location.

A council spokesperson said: “It was decided to locate it at the Civic Centre due to its secure location and high footfall, so all members of the public could view and enjoy it.

“In February 2013, permission was sought from the Brownlow family to relocate the Master McGrath sculpture from the Civic Centre to Lurgan town centre. There was an opportunity to carry out this work through the public realm scheme at no additional cost to council, and a planning application was submitted seeking approval to site the Master McGrath sculpture within the scheme.”

A plaque will be erected soon, the spokesperson said but she was unable to specify the cost.

“It will the last stage in the Craigavon Borough Council and Department for Social Development public realm improvements in the town.

“The lead contractor, McLaughlin and Harvey, who started the work in November 2012, is now entering the final phase of work with less than four weeks remaining.

“They will still be in the town after June to carry out minor repairs and address any defects or other issues, but with a greatly reduced presence.

The bronze sculpture is being relocated to the central island close to the High Street Methodist Church.

“Council have lobbied to have this work carried out within the public realm scheme, and acknowledge the support of the Brownlow family and local businesspeople.

The Maurice Harron public artwork to be installed on the central plaza later this year.

Jamie Brownlow, a direct descendant of Lord Brownlow who owned the famous greyhound Master McGrath, has said he would be ‘delighted’ for the statue to be returned.

In a letter to Upper Bann MLA Sam Gardiner, Mr Brownlow said: “It would be wonderful to see the statue back in Lurgan and my father would have been delighted.”