The 'Chinaman' is a 200-year-old wooden statue which it is hoped can be restored and displayed in Rathkeale
LIMERICK City and County Council’s conservation officer says he will liaise with other agencies in the hope of progressing proposals to reinstate the historic Chinaman landmark in the centre of Rathkeale.
The 200-year-old timber statue, which was previously displayed above a building at Main Street in the town, has not been seen publicly for almost a decade.
The statue, which is privately owned, was re-discovered in recent years sparking a local campaign – led by the Rathkeale Historical Society – to have it restored and reinstated at a prominent location in the town.
This process could require specialist equipment and the Chinaman may have to dipped in alcohol and wax before it can be replicated.
At a meeting of Adare-Rathkeale Municpal District, Cllr Adam Teskey suggested the original Chinaman, which has suffered “serious distress” could be preserved and that a fibreglass replica be made and put on public display.
“The people of Rathkeale would like to see it brought back,” he told the meeting.
Conservation Officer Tom Cassidy confirmed he is engaging with the owners of the property in Rathkeale where the Chinaman was discovered in recent years with a view to the council acquiring it.
He said there are some concerns about the condition of the Chinaman, which was originally mounted at the front of a ship. “Sailing vessels had a limited life span,” he said
Referring to photographs of the Chinaman, which were taken in 2012, Mr Cassidy said there had been a “litany of misfortune” and that it’s clear it has suffered “serious distress”.
He said he will continue with the project and will engage with the Office of Public Works and other relevant agencies.
There was no indication as to how long the process will take or what the total cost of the project will be.
A spokesperson for the local authority who was contacted following the meeting would not elaborate any further.
“Limerick City and County Council is looking into the issue and be speaking with the organising committee as to the best course of action,” he said.