THE iconic Our Lady’s Statue in Ballinacurra Weston, badly vandalised last year, has been given a new lease of life thanks for the Limerick Civic Trust.
The heritage group teamed up with the regeneration agency and the city council for the refurbishment of the shrine, which is admired by residents of the area.
Dr James Ring, director of the Limerick Civic Trust, said they felt compelled to act after seeing an article in our sister newspaper the Limerick Chronicle, outlining the vandalism that had take place in the area.
Vandals had drawn obscene images on the statue, and daubed names on the dome overhead.
The arms of the statue were broken, and horses were seen grazing within its walls.
However, following meetings with residents, Brendan Kenny, and local parish priest Fr Damien Ryan, they spent six weeks refurbishing the icon.
“Normally we would not get involved in religious projects like this, but the reason we got involved this time is because it represented the heritage of the Weston community,” explained Dr Ring.
As as result of their efforts - which were carried out with community representatives - the shrine at the centre of the parish has undergone a complete change.
Instead of grass which allowed horses to graze, Dr Ring said: “what we have done is we have taken down the wall, and rebuilt around it. The whole grotto was turned around to face in a southerly direction, because this was its natural bearing.”
“We took down the walls, and took away all the grass, and paved it over with a beautiful limestone finish.”
Mindless vandals had snapped the hands off the statue.
But now, the statue has been rebuilt to look as good as new.
A major project, Dr Ring said it took “the bones of six weeks” to complete.
He said that although there were fears that the statue would once again be defiled, these have so far proven to be unfounded.
“What was great was that I was passing down there last Tuesday night, and I saw three kids cleaning the grotto. This was a real positive. There were comments that it would be wrecked, but it is not wrecked, and it is a real positive that kids have taken a bit of pride to come out and clean the statue,” he told the Limerick Leader.