independent

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Bid to restore PA to his rightful place runs into a stone wall

PA McHugh monument at its current location at City HallPic Carl Brennan
PA McHugh monument at its current location at City HallPic Carl Brennan
A scene from the 1970s as local teenagers relax at the PA McHugh monument in O'Connell Street

PA McHugh, a former editor of The Sligo Champion and a legendary political figure of his time, was never a person to be pushed about.And he's proving just as immovable in death as he was in life.A monument to the former Mayor, County Council Chairman and Parliamentarian is located outside City Hall and any suggestion that it be moved is being resisted by Borough Council off

By Leo Gray

PA McHugh, a former editor of The Sligo Champion and a legendary political figure of his time, was never a person to be pushed about.

And he's proving just as immovable in death as he was in life.

A monument to the former Mayor, County Council Chairman and Parliamentarian is located outside City Hall and any suggestion that it be moved is being resisted by Borough Council officials.

The monument once stood proudly at the top of O'Connell Street outside the Post Office but was relocated to Quay Street to make way for a revised traffic system in the city centre in the 1970s.

Now, following on from the pedestrianisation of O'Connell Street, there have been calls to reinstate the monument at its original location.

But Council officials are against the move, maintaining that the monument would be open to risk of damage in the operation and that it would interfere with traffic movement of service vehicles if it was relocated to O'Connell Street.

In a report to Monday's meeting of the Borough Council, Senior Architect, Sean Martin, said it was not envisaged the monument would be moved as part of the pedestrianisation project at O'Connell Street.

It was considered that the present location at City Hall presented a fitting civic setting that echoed the parliamentary associations of PA McHugh and was in keeping with the presentation of the City Hall forecourt area, said Mr. Martin.

Traffic

He noted that the monument was sited at its former location at O'Connell Street at a time when the traffic demand at the junction was at a low level. As traffic volumes significantly increased, it presented an obstacle to traffic flows and there was an increased threat of damage to the monument from passing vehicles.

"Returning the monument to its former location would interfere with the traffic movements of service vehicles such as trucks and vans and emergency vehicles that will have access to the street", explained Mr. Martin.

He added that it was also preferable not to move the monument from a conservation perspective.

"Each time the monument is moved, it has to be broken down to its constituents part at a risk of damage in the disassembly, trans-portation and reassembly", he pointed out.

Clr. Declan Bree told the meeting a growing number of people were of the opinion that the monument should be returned to O'Connell Street as part of the pedestrianisation process.

He said PA McHugh was one of the leading figures in the political affairs of Sligo in the period from 1885 up to the time of his death at the age of fifty-one years in 1909. He was Mayor of Sligo on five successive occasions, was elected to Parliament in 1892 and was the first ever Chairman of Sligo County Council when it was established in 1899.

The people of Sligo thought so highly of PA McHugh that they erected a monument to him in 1916 in the most prominent position of the town, Clr. Bree said. Now, there was an increasing number of people who were anxious to see the monument returned to its original location, he added.



Clr. Bree said he would consider Mr. Martin's report and come back to the issue at the next meeting of the Borough Council.







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