The Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty Memorial Statue was commissioned by a local society who wished to celebrate and commemorate the heroic deeds of this great man and his colleagues in Rome during World War II. They undertook major national and international fundraising initiatives in order to fund the tribute.
Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty grew up in Killarney and eventually studied in Rome, Italy. This relatively unsung hero became an influential humanitarian figure during World War II. He is credited with saving the lives of countless people whilst putting himself in grave personal danger. He has the honour of being awarded the medal Commander of the British Empire and the US Medal of Freedom, as well as medals from Haiti and Italy. Eight million viewers watched him in 1963 on BBC's 'This Is Your Life'.
The Monsignor often carried out his secret lifesaving work in disguise and this earned him the nickname 'The Pimpernel of the Vatican'. A silver screen adaptation of his life ensued, and his character was played by actor Gregory Peck in the 1983 movie 'The Scarlet and the Black'. The Monsignor eventually returned to Ireland and lived out his days with his sister in Cahersiveen.
The bronze life sized statue is by sculptor Alan Ryan Hall and information panels as well as large scale replicas of the medals the Monsignor was awarded complete the tribute area, which can be found near the pedestrian entrance to the nearby Killarney National Park.
Explore and enjoy the nearby Killarney House and Gardens, the entrance to which is located just beside the statue.