Oscar Wilde, the playwright, poet and wit spent seven years (1864–71) in Enniskillen at Portora Royal School (now Enniskillen Royal Grammar School). His most popular short story, The Happy Prince, is directly inspired by Enniskillen’s Cole’s Monument that stands ‘high above the town’, a monument which Wilde could directly see from his dormitory window at Portora.
In the story the statue of the happy prince pleads with the little swallow to stay and distribute his jewels and gold leaf to the people of the town to relieve them of their misery.
In 2021, 150 gold leafed swallows were produced by Enniskillen-based sculptor Simon Carman and artist Helen Sharp, supported by Studio Assistant and local volunteer Arthur Brooke, as part of an initiative to celebrate the beautiful story of Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince with the installation of 150 little swallows in gold leaf in and around Enniskillen centre, on the exterior facades of retail stores and community buildings including its schools.
The origins of the story is celebrated through a magical tour. With the themes of compassion, empathy and diversity at the heart of the story, the 150 swallows reflect the heart of the tale and are a legacy to Oscar Wilde in the place where he was schooled