IN an act described as “wanton vandalism” a sign which had been erected by a community group to highlight the history of Clarecastle Quay has been stolen.
However the Clarecastle & Ballyea Heritage Group has vowed not to let this stop its plans for a ‘heritage trail’ of the area, with some signs already in place and more planned for the future.
The stolen metal sign for ‘Dromoland Road’ was taken sometime overnight on Monday, September 12, after 9pm.
Eric Shaw of the Clarecastle & Ballyea Heritage Group told The Champion the group was very disappointed to discover that the sign had been taken under cover of darkness.
He fears that it may be offered for sale to an unsuspecting pub as a decorative feature, urging anybody who comes across it to contact their local gardaí.
Gardaí have been notified of the incident and are checking CCTV footage from the area in a bid to identify the culprit. The sign had been installed just last summer with the support of grant funding.
“It is just so upsetting that we went to all this effort to have the sign put in place on the quay and for this to happen,” said Eric.
“The road linking the upper and lower quays was named Dromoland Road in honour of Sir Lucius O’Brien of Dromoland,” he explained.
“He had built a second quay to handle increased shipping traffic and a ferry service. In order to tell the story of those days, in July, we erected this sign on the road.”
The group’s Clarecastle Heritage Trail project also includes a wildlife board and the relocation of the Shannon Estuary Way stone.
The Dromoland Road sign was part of an upgrade of Clarecastle Quay, with the erection of the signs aided by members of Clarecastle Tidy Towns and Men’s Shed.
Eric insists that work on the Clarecastle Heritage Trail will continue despite this set back.
“We have 12 more signs that we are putting up. Having something like this happen would make you worried if someone is going around stealing signs we are in trouble. But this isn’t going to discourage us, you have to keep going.”
The Dromoland sign’s posts were not harmed and the cross bars not damaged by the culprits.
“There were rivets holding the sign. The sign seems to have been hammered out of the frame,” he explained.
The sign is around four feet long, with Eric saying a vehicle would have been needed to transport it away from the scene of the crime.
“We haven’t a clue who might have done something like this. They must have been in a car, I don’t think you could have walked up the quay with that sign under your arm.
“There are a few lads who sit and chat at the quay and keep an eye out and when they left, the sign was still there so it must have been taken late at night.”
He is hopeful that somebody might come across the sign and contact the gardaí.
“We had some help from the security staff in Roche who looked for it in the hedges but there has been no sign of it. Maybe whoever took it just dumped it somewhere and it will be spotted by somebody.
“The metal itself wouldn’t be worth a lot to anyone, but we have heard of signs being taken and then sold to pubs to hang up on their walls. If anybody is offered the sign for sale then I would ask them to contact the gardaí,” he urged.
Since putting details of the stolen signpost up on social media the group have been inundated with support from the public.
“We had 3,000 hits on the post so the whole county knows about this and people are going to be keeping an eye out for this sign.”
He concluded, “If anyone knows of the whereabouts of the sign or has any information on it, we would be very grateful. It took a lot of effort to erect that and other signage in the Quay area and it is very upsetting to see some of that work destroyed.”