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Derek Clune, secretary Shannon Tidy Towns, on the Shannon Loop Walk where Fairy Doors depicting local places of interest, made by the local mens' shed group and painted by children from local creches were removed within the last three weeks. Photograph by John Kelly

Mystery surrounds ‘fairy doors’ disappearance

MYSTERY surrounds the disappearance of the Fairy Doors that had been attached to trees on the River Walk, on the forest stretch between Illaunmanagh and Cluain Airne, reports Owen Ryan.
The disappearance of the doors has disappointed those involved in making the doors, as well as the local children who enjoyed the installations.
“We put them up there two years ago, the Men’s Shed made them, they were painted at the creches and the Tidy Towns put them up, said Derek Clune, of Shannon Men’s Shed and Tidy Towns.
“We had to put them up fairly high, because if we put them too low we felt they could be vandalised. We had a ladder and I’d say they were eight feet off the ground and they were screwed in,” he added.
He has no doubt that it is not a simple case of vandalism, because removing the Fairy Doors isn’t that simple.
“It seems to me that whoever took them down, it was deliberate thing, there was a specific reason. It wasn’t an act of vandalism. Not alone would they have to bring a ladder with them, but they’d have to bring a screw driver or a drill. Plus, they were taken, there’s none of them to be found up there, thrown into bushes or briars or a ditch or anything. They were deliberately taken.”
There were some objections when they were put up, but he says that installing them was not damaging to the mature trees in the area.
“I see these Fairy Doors all over Ireland. Go into forest walks in different parts of the country and you have bat boxes and bird boxes up on trees. We have the bat boxes and bird boxes on the trees up there as well, but it was only the fairy doors taken. It’s an awful shame and a total mystery.
“Everybody around Shannon knows about it, a lot of people are talking about it, but nobody seems to have any information or saw it happening. To go to every tree, go up the ladder, unscrew them, come back down and go onto the next tree, you wouldn’t do it in a five-minute spell, there were 80 to 100 fairy doors up there and it’s a total mystery how it was done, when it was done and who did it.”
He said children had loved looking at them, and there were pictures of things like fire stations, houses, police stations etc, to give the impression of a little community living behind the fairy doors.
The disappearance of the Fairy Doors has been reported to the Gardai, and Derek says they will be replaced if they don’t turn up.
“If we don’t locate them, we will replace them. The Men’s Shed in Shannon made them and due to restrictions we are closed. But when we open again we will replace them because they are very popular.
“Will the same thing happen again? I don’t know, but we can’t let the people who did take them down win by not putting them back up again.”
He thinks they were probably not all taken at once. “I would think it was done over a period of time. Not all on the one day, people mightn’t notice a few gone at one time, but in a week they had all vanished.”
Like every town Shannon has seen a share of vandalism and anti-social behaviour, but that isn’t what’s behind this, he reiterates.
“If it was vandalism, you’d know it. No teenager coming down is going to have a ladder, a drill and a screwdriver with him. It had to be done deliberately for whatever reason. There’s none to be found anywhere, so whoever took them went to the bother of taking them away again.”
He suspects that someone with concerns about the trees may have removed them, but he insists no damage was done.
“I’ve been around the country and in Roscrea there is a river walk and there’s hundreds of these. At the Twelve O’Clock Hills you have bird and bat boxes, those are up on trees all over the country. A big mature tree, one screw isn’t going to do any damage.”

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