The iconic “Metal Man” is one of the five cut stone navigation beacons flanking Tramore Bay. The Cork-born sculptor Thomas Kirk (1781-1845), whose works also included Nelsons Pillar, exhibited a sketch for a “Jack Tar”, at the Hibernian Society of Artists in Dublin in 1815 and a model of the same in London two years later.
A “Jack Tar” was a term originally used to refer to seamen of the Merchant or Royal Navy, particularly during the period of the British Empire. In 1819, a cast of the Metal Man was made by John Clarke, at the request of the Ballast Board.
The figure, twice life size, but slightly out of proportion, is pointing to Hook Head and the entrance to Waterford Harbour. He is dressed in the uniform of British sailors at the time of the sinking of HMS Sea Horse: a gold-buttoned royal blue coat worn over a bright red waistcoat and white trousers.
One of 4 such statues commissioned, another Metal Man stands on a squat podium at the entrance to Sligo Harbour, however the whereabouts of the other two are unknown.
Early twentieth-century photographs capture a long-lost tradition where a chain of unmarried ladies would hop around the base of the tower three times in the hope of finding a husband within a year. Feel free to contact us if this was a successful tactic for you!