AMONG the entries that stood out to judges in the category focussing on 'Groups Supporting the Environment and Heritage' was the stunning restoration of Russell's Store Wall by Tarbert Development Association.
The hard working group began this journey more than three years ago, when urban design architect Nicholas de Jong proposed improvements to the the wall, including stone cleaning, decorative panels where the windows once were and the erection of new timber gates.
After securing private funding from Endesa Ireland and Tarbert Power Station along with LEADER funding from North and East Kerry Development, work on the ambitious project finally began in mid-2011. This included the removal of concrete infill from the 12 windows and replacing with plastered block work; the replacement of three corrugated iron doors with timber doors and the capping of the wall.
During 2011, Tarbert Development Association consulted widely with artists and historians to ensure the best possible way of depicting the rich historic relationship with the town and the Shannon Estuary.
In the end, artists and bronze casters Liam Lavery and Eithne Ring were enlisted, along with Tarbert native Professor Emeritus John Coolahan, who came up with a winning formula for the bronze panels, from an artistic and historic point of view.
The panels tell the story of the influence of the River Shannon on the development of Tarbert. Each depicts a significant milestone from the history of the area, from the coming of St Senan in the 600s AD to the arrival of the ESB and the Shannon ferry, with one of the plaques even celebrating the construction of the building on which it is erected. The plaques have also been of great educational value locally, and have been identified by local teachers as great sources of project work.
The stunning project was officially unveiled last October and continues to attract much attention and praise from lcoals and visitors alike.
It has been described by development association as 'the greatest investment in the history and heritage of Tarbert' in recent times - and it's easy to see why.