Mystery of Limerick FitzGibbon monument deepens

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

Toys, religious figurines and candles have started appearing at the FitzGibbon monument in Lisnagry, but nobody knows who is placing them.

Toys, religious figurines and candles have started appearing at the FitzGibbon monument in Lisnagry, but nobody knows who is placing them.

They started appearing at the foot of the monument in Richill, Lisnagry - on the Limerick side of the Castleconnell roundabout - a number of weeks ago. It was reinstated there from its original location at Carrowkeel in October, 2011. It was dismantled in 2001 as part of the construction of the Limerick Southern Ring Road. 

Paddy Tuohy, of Castleconnell Historical Society, said the items were first placed in a water trough late last year so they couldn’t be seen from the road.

Toys, figurines, candles, musical instruments, a frame with no photo in it have now overflowed on to the base of the memorial. Mr Tuohy said many people are talking about the mystery in the locality.

“I’ve seen them myself. Nobody knows what the story is. In parts of Ireland there are locations called raggy trees but I don’t know of any in Limerick.

“They are trees over holy wells. Statues, holy picture, rags, cloths, belts, braces, false teeth etc are placed there. I know of one in Roscrea. It seems to me like the beginning of a kind of a raggy tree in Lisnagry,” said Mr Tuohy.

It is believed that those who place items at raggy trees are hoping for a cure. However, he says there is no religious significance attached to the FitzGibbon monument.

“It’s not even the original site of the memorial; that was where the Newport road would join the Nenagh road,” said the historian.

Mr Tuohy said the overriding feeling of people he has spoken to is that they do not like the added items to the monument that are growing in number.

“They are not impressed and feel it might turn into a raggy tree like the one in Roscrea. That monument is the only bit of the FitzGibbon clan that is left now around the area,” said Mr Tuohy.

The original pump was placed in Carrowkeel, on the southern side of the Dublin road, by John FitzGibbon of Mountshannon Estate, Earl of Clare.

He served as Lord Lieutenant of Limerick and was a one time governor of Bombay. The original well was sunk on the Dublin-Limerick road for the benefit of his tenants just north of where Finnegan’s pub is now.

His niece, Lady Louisa FitzGibbon, and her husband Gerald N FitzGibbon, renovated the pump and erected the memorial over it in 1875, in memory of their son, Charles Richard George. He died in 1870 of blood poisoning aged 21.

The memorial was known locally by various names, such as The Pump, The Carrowkeel Fountain and The Annacotty Fountain - it was a famous landmark on the road into Limerick.

In recent times it had become neglected and suffered some damage. The Maltese cross that once surmounted the arch has been missing for some time

In its previous life, the FitzGibbon memorial and pump was an important local landmark used by weary travellers and local people to water their horses.

At its reinstatement ceremony then Cathaoirleach, Cllr Mary Harty, said: “It is fitting that the new location of this monument lies adjacent to the new M7 Limerick to Nenagh Motorway where once again it will serve as a landmark for those travelling.

The new location of the memorial lies within the boundary of Mountshannon Demesne. Castleconnell Historical Society, Limerick County Council, NRA and Stone Age were all involved in the reinstatement project.

If you are the person who is placing the items at the FitzGibbon monument please contact the Limerick Leader on 061 214503.