In Wicklow, Ireland, about 50 kilometers south of Dublin, weary travelers with hungry minds can find a one of a kind park filled with beautifully handcarved statues of Hindu gods and figures, all dedicated to the memory of computer programmer Alan Turing. Victor’s Way Sculpture Park is the result of 25 years worth of money slinging by a wealthy buddha-chaser who spent his inheritance commissioning karmically charged statuary.
The park consists of 7 “major” and 37 “minor” granite sculptures, each one designed in Ireland but handcrafted by master stonesmiths in Mahabalipuram, India. Victor’s Way was dedicated to the memory of computer programmer Alan Turing, after the owner, Victor Langford, read a book about dolphin intelligence. The author of that book compared the human mind, and by extension the mind of dolphins, to the abstract machinations of a computer. This led Victor to Alan Turing, who he feels proved that “anything can become anything depending on how its programmed.” This refers to a Turing machine's ability to interpret then redefine symbols according to predefined rules. This ethos is embedded in the spirit of Victor’s Way, which seeks to provide troubled souls with a ready-made tool for spiritual rebirth.
As the park’s website explains, Victor’s Way was conceived as a “contemplation (or meditation) space for lone adults between the approx. ages of 28 and 65 who feel the need to take some quality time out for R&R&R (i.e. rest, recovery & spiritual reorientation).” R&R&R is serious business for Langford. He created Victor’s Way after residing in India and Japan for some time. With money from a large inheritance, Victor bought the 20-acre park for “next to nothing” in 1995, when Ireland was at the bottom of an economic depression. He then slowly filled the natural space with the sculptures that live there today. The park opened as “Victor’s Way,” a nod to Frank Sinatra’s anthem of self-love. At some point thereafter, a “sexual encounter” led to some intense “tantric consummation” (to use Victor’s own words), which led Victor renaming the park “Victoria’s Way.” The original name was restored in 2016.
Victor’s Way is grounded in the philosophy and spirituality of its owner. Langford, who rants at length on the park’s website about the meaning behind the statues and related concepts, clearly has a brilliant but unconventional mind, like Gene Ray of Time Cube fame, except Buddhist. His ideas pour out in the form of quasi-comprehensible new age essays on topics ranging from Turing, his own spiritual transformation, and notions of “God.” Mr. Langheld has even written a book, titled “How to Make and Fake Happiness.” In this book he tries to explain that “[h]appiness is a biological app — like a smart phone app. The happiness app signals the achievement of self-completion within any personal self-application context (i.e. personal world).” If this sounds like words you need in your life right now, please click on over to his book page and buy a copy for 10 Euro plus postage. It could be the start of your own bizarre, spiritual awakening.
There are two kinds of people who are not entirely welcome at Langford’s park: “daytrippers,” and children. “Daytripper” is Langford’s term for tourists and anyone else who visits the park in search of anything less than a stepping stone to enlightenment. In 2015, a flood of daytrippers and their yapping disrespectful children led Mr. Langford to close the park briefly. It reopened in April of 2016, with modified rules for admission. While children are not outright banned, Victor’s Way aims to attract adult individuals with more spiritual motivations.
Victor’s Way still clings to it’s original purpose. The park’s website, itself a sight to behold and experience, states very firmly, in bold, underlined, no-nonsense letters: “Victor’s Way is not a fun park for families.” You enter the park through a large granite vagina dentata guarded by statues of two well-endowed lady-guardians named Mephy and Lucy. Other sculptures include a child in the clutches of a clawed hand, an emaciated, skeletal portrayal of the Buddha climbing out of a bog, and some poor guy getting his head sliced in half by a disembodied knife-wielding hand. Besides the horror, there is plenty in Victor’s Way to admire in terms of serene craftsmanship. For instance, a silent Buddha awaits passing strangers in the middle of a lake. Not far from him, a dozen or so elephant-faced Ganesh sculptures, including one holding a book containing the BASIC programming language, rest on pedestals in a meadow.
Do yourself a favor and visit the park’s website for an occasionally uncomfortable but fascinating glimpse into the owner’s life and motives, by way of his long-form hippy banter. The unapologetically new age dharma-babbling on the park’s site, which plays out link by link, is surprisingly compelling. It's like a choose your-own-adventure novel where you’re trying to figure out who or what drove this man so beautifully insane. In browsing through the rants, readers will get the impression of a man who went through some heavy psychological discomfort for a couple decades, then bashed his head with a spiritual baseball bat until he finally found peace and truth. Langford used his money and willpower to build the mecca he felt he needed once. His dedication to keeping the park clear of those who might derail its holy task is ultimately endearing because of that.
If you ever find yourself in Ireland, Victor’s Way Sculpture Park is definitely a site to see. Just be sure to take your perhaps latent sense of self discovery and spirituality with you. The joys contained in this weird and obscure park are meant for those in search of something a little harder to find than mere entertainment.