Families horrified as monument to tragic young deaths stolen
Published 15/11/2011 | 05:00
FAMILIES yesterday reacted with horror after a monument dedicated to young people who died tragically was stolen for its value as scrap metal.
Residents of the scenic village of Castletown, Mountrath, Co Laois, discovered the 10-foot bronze, copper and brass sculpture had been wrenched from its foundations on the banks of the River Nore on Friday morning.
The metal sculpture of a tree -- broken off midsection to represent lives cut short -- was inscribed with the names and ages of more then 30 young men, women and children from the area.
Michael Grehan lost three children, Siobhan (7), Michael jnr (6) and Michelle (3) after a house fire in Castletown on Christmas eve 1991.
"I'm sick to the stomach," said Mr Grehan. "I lost family in 1991 in a house fire and the three of them are represented on the plaque. That was a devastating time for me," he said.
Describing the thieves as "mindless human beings", he added the monument had enabled the community of Castletown to share their grief at a location other than the graveyard. According to Mary Keenan, who lost her brother through illness, "it brings back all the sadness of when we lost people here".
She said the price the piece was likely to make as scrap was nothing to the "emotional and sentimental value" it has to the people of Castletown.
Another resident, Jack Bergin, said the sculpture was erected at a cost of IR£30,000.