Residents in Castletown and surrounding areas are in deep shock at the theft of a monument, which rememberd young people in the area who had died in tragic circumstances.
The oak tree was a 10ft brass and bronze sculpture. It was removed from its foundation along the banks of the River Nore, last Thursday night. At a cost of €30,000 it was erected ten years ago.
“It’s a personal thing to take,” said local resident, Mary Keenan. So many people were touched by it, not only from Castletown but from the surrounding areas. It’s a personal assault on people.”
The memorial was a millenium project and it was funded from the parish lotto fund, so everyone in the parish had contributed.
“People are frustatred and angry. It’s threading on something very sensitive. It was put there in remembrance of all the babies, children and young people who died. It was central to community and it was much more personal than just a bronze sculpture on the side of the road.
“It was hugely significant for the whole community, there was over 30 names on it,” she said.
Among those to be commerate were the three children of Michael Grehan who died in a house fire in 1991.
Garda Superintendent Philip Lyons said it was a “heartless type of crime.”
He said the local gardai were currently in the course of their investigations into the theft of the monument late Thursday, or early Friday morning.
“There has been a trend in the theft of metals especially copper and bronze, countrywide,” he said.
The Portlaoise supt said they had received a report of a jeep acting suspiciously in the area at 1am on Friday morning and appealed for people with any information on a jeep travelling around the area to contact the local guards.
“This was a substantial monument and it would have taken a couple of people to remove it.It happened in the dead of night in a quiet location but someone might have seen something,” he said.
Anybody with information should contact Portlaoise or Abbeyleix Garda stations.