'Ghost of the Empire' is a one-hour documentary about the life and works of John Henry Foley, creator of some of the most famous and controversial public works of the late 18th and 19th century. A native of Ireland, Foley found fame whilst still a student with the RAA where his first exhibits caught the attention of none other than the Prince Consort.

As a darling of the Royal Family, Foley was commissioned to create some of the most prestigious and symbolic commemorative pieces in the British Empire and beyond. Works include, the Albert Memorial in London, Daniel O'Connell in Dublin, Outram in Calcutta, and Stonewall Jackson in America. To keep up with the demand for his work Foley built an enormous studio in Islington where he oversaw the creation of works mainly celebrating the lives of distinguished politicians, military heroes, and artists.

The real drama behind this story occurs a century later, when the Empire began to crumble in both India and his native Ireland. Sculptures like his famed 'Outram' and 'Hardinge' had to be removed from the gaze of the citizens of the new India and joined other colonial works in abandoned sculptural graveyards.

In Ireland the works suffered more extreme humiliation where the IRA was the principle thorn in the destruction of his work. Lord Dunkillen was removed from his pedestal and thrown into Galway Bay. Lord Gough, after several attempted bombings and having his head removed, was spirited out of Ireland to Nottingham under secret instructions of the Free State Government.

The ones that survive in Ireland are those that are acceptable to the new Republic like, Daniel O Connell, the Catholic Liberator, and Henry Grattan, the Home Ruler. Unionist ideology has ensured that Foley's work like…in Belfast is held in high esteem. Interestingly the Indian Government is planning to reinstate some of Foley's work on the basis of their merit as works of art.

Ghost of the Empire is the story of how nations deal with the baggage of their past and move onto a more mature understanding of the origin of the symbols imposed upon them.

The Empire
14 shots

Irish Sculpture
7 shots


Director: Sé Merry Doyle
Producer: Jackie Larkin
Photography: John T. Davis
Music: Laura Forest Hay
Location: Ireland / UK / India
Format: Super 16mm and Digi Beta
Running Time: 60mins

  Sales Company:
Loopline Film, 106 Baggot Lane, Dublin 4, Ireland
t: +353-1-6676498 / 6627
f: +353-1-6676604

e: info@d1079532.cp.blacknight.com/htm
  Suggestions for broadcasters: This is a unique film and would sit very well on any arts based schedule in Britain, Ireland and America.  
  'John Henry Foley - Ghost Of The Empire' is a Loopline Film supported by
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John Henry Foley - Ghost Of The Empire | Hallowed Ground - The Quest For The Secrets Of Newgrange
The Quiet Man - Milestone Or A Millstone? | Outside Looking In - Irish Art In Question   
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