Heritage town sickened by theft of 19th Century 'mile markers'
Published 04/08/2016 | 02:30
Nothing is sacred when it comes to the toll crime is now exacting on rural Ireland.
Lismore in west Waterford has won multiple awards for its determination to develop itself as one of Europe's top heritage destinations.
It has launched literature festivals, heritage walks and redeveloped its town park into one of the most beautiful in Ireland.
Lismore Castle, owned by the Dukes of Devonshire, is copper-fastening its status as one of Ireland's top tourist attractions.
But criminal gangs have also blitzed the area.
Lismore Heritage official, Mealla Fahey, admitted locals are appalled by a series of burglaries and thefts - which have even included 19th Century 'mile markers'.
These are unique to west Waterford and a key part of the local tourism infrastructure.
To add insult to injury, the unique markers were stolen just days after the community launched a special 'Adopt a Monument Scheme'.
The west Waterford community has vowed not to let the theft of the monuments, both dating from the 1840s, spoil their heritage commitment but Ms Fahey admitted that it is desperately sad that while some are working to promote heritage and create jobs, others seem intent on attacking the community.
"I suppose Lismore is no different to other communities in Cork, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick or wherever," she said.
"We've had cases here where people leave their homes to go get messages or collect a friend, they are only gone for 15 or 20 minutes but yet, when they come back, their homes have been robbed."
Ms Fahey said that while the combination of house burglaries and the theft of community heritage assets is upsetting, it is the suspicion that homes and businesses are being watched which is truly disturbing.
"That is what is really concerning - that people trying to do the best for their family and community are being watched."
Lismore, like other rural towns, has largely been targeted by gangs operating from urban centres including Limerick, Cork, Waterford and Dublin.