Wednesday 24 April 2024

Kerry mural to priest that saved Jews in WWII defaced with Nazi slur

Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty's mural defaced with Hitler slur in Tralee.

The Tralee artist who painted a mural dedicated to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty in Tralee has criticised those responsible for defacing it with Nazi slurs.

Mary Leen is a well-know Kerry artist who was commissioned to paint the mural in 2015 as part of a memorial area dedicated to the famous Catholic priest.

At the height of WWII, when stationed in Rome, Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty was instrumental in organising an escape of Allied POW’s and civilians.

When the Allies eventually entered Rome, Monsignor O’Flaherty and his colleagues had saved over 6,500 lives. Known as ‘The Vatican Pimpernel’, he was born in Kiskeam in County Cork in 1898, before his parents, James and Margaret, moved to Killarney.

“I was very disappointed to see my mural of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty vandalised. I especially feel saddened for the family of Monsignor O'Flaherty,” said Ms Leen.

“They don't deserve to see this. To see this war hero, and a brave Kerry man, that saved thousands of people from the Nazi's during the war. To now, ironically, be compared to Hitler. It is very wrong,” she added.

Ms Leen said art is about self-expression, and everyone has the right to express their own opinion through their art. However, they do not have a right to express their opinion through another person’s art. Or to deface the work of another artist.

“As an art teacher, I encourage students to look and respond to art. This is healthy, so I am respectfully calling out the individual that did this to respond to this painting in a healthy and dignified way by creating their own artwork and offer it for public display. I will even anonymously post their response on my page,” Ms Leen said.

“If someone can be brave enough to vandalise the work of another artist, then I encourage them to be brave enough to do their own artwork in response and we can have a public discussion about it,” she said.