Former mayors’ war of words on moving Limerick statue

Jess Casey


Jess Casey


Former mayors’  war of words on moving Limerick statue

Cllr John Gilligan wants the statue of Patrick Sarsfield moved to the city centre

IT WAS the case of a moving statue, a 98-year-old woman and contradictory motions that led to a lively war of words between two former mayors at a meeting in the city hall this week.

In March, former Mayor of Limerick John Gilligan, who is set to retire from politics next month, successfully tabled a motion to relocate the statue of Patrick Sarsfield from Cathedral Place into the city centre. 

However, the outspoken former mayor could not hide his disbelief at a recent meeting of the Metro district when he spotted a motion put forward by Fianna Fáil councillor Kieran O’Hanlon seeking to enhance the area around the monument. 

“Last month we passed a motion to move the statue, now we have a motion in to do it up,” Cllr Gilligan said incredulously. 

“We cannot have a motion that contradicts a previous one. This motion is a deliberate attempt to frustrate the will of the people,” cllr Gilligan said. 

Just one Sinn Fein councillor had opposed moving the statue, he added.

“The motion passed without my support,” cllr O’Hanlon replied, adding that he had left the room. “Anyway, I am only calling for the area to be cleaned up. I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t support that.”

“Patrick Sarsfield is there, in my view he won’t be moving. However, we have to deal with the present. Surely you will be supportive of that cllr Gilligan?” 

“No, no, no I won’t,” came the retort from the opposite side of the room.

“I couldn’t see how an experienced councillor, like yourself cllr Gilligan, could oppose this,” cllr O’Hanlon said. “And by the way,” he added, gesturing.

“I have been speaking with people in the area and under no circumstances will they tolerate Patrick Sarsfield being moved.” 

“There is a 98 year old woman in my area who says the women will chain themselves to the railings by Patrick Sarsfield before he is moved.” 

Fellow Fianna Fáil councillor Jerry O’Dea also voiced his support for the statue to remain in situ. “Under no circumstances will people of St John’s allow Patrick Sarsfield to be moved.” 

“Isn’t it amazing just how much attention Patrick Sarsfield is getting now, after my motion passed,” cllr Gilligan asked. 

“And now, people are making up funny stories about people chaining themselves to railings. Nobody believes that!” 

LCCC director of services Kieran Lehane told the former mayors they both submitted valid motions. “The statue should be moved and in the meantime cllr O’Hanlon has submitted a valid motion,” he said, diplomatically.  See page 54 of L2 for a fascinating article on the history of Patrick Sarsfield.