THE STATUE of Michael Hartnett in Newcastle West was so badly damaged by a recent attempt to steal it that it will have to be removed and transported to Dublin for repairs, it has been confirmed.
The bronze statue of the famed West Limerick poet was targeted by would-be thieves in May, who attempted to hoist it from its plinth in the square and steal it. While they were unsuccessful, the €35,000 sculpture was badly damaged in the process.
This Tuesday the statue’s sculptor, Rory Breslin, held an on-site meeting in Newcastle West with Limerick County Council senior engineer Jimmy Condon and Michael Finucane, chairman of the local community council. Also present was Leo Higgins, from the Dublin foundry where the statue was cast, and an insurance assessor.
Mr Finucane told the Limerick Leader that the statue has been deemed to be so badly damaged that it cannot be repaired on site. “It wasn’t as if someone jumped up on top of it after a few pints. Somebody placed a latch around it and tried to tow it away. The most startling thing is that, even if they had got away with it and melted it down, the value of the metal would only have been €100.”
The statue will now have to be removed so that a special steel plate can be bolted to the plinth to fortify the sculpture before it is re-attached. Mr Finucane said that there is still no final estimate for the cost of the repairs, and they still do not know if the statue is covered by Limerick County Council’s public insurance policy. “We’re still unsure if the statue is covered. Of course if it isn’t, that creates a specific problem”. Mr Finucane said that he is “optimistic” that the repairs will be covered by insurance.