Wooden sculptures in Killarney National Park that were hacked at by vandals at the weekend have been restored almost to their former glory, but questions have been raised about the mindset of anyone would could target the pieces.
Seven hand-carved representations of birds and animals that frequent or live in Killarney National Park were unveiled in February as part of a Killarney Looking Good/Killarney Tidy Towns project.
But vandals have twice struck at the site along a picturesque river walk, which is enjoyed as a nature trail by children from nearby schools keen to explore their locality’s natural heritage.
As well as representations of the Greenland goose and heron, the life-size sculptures, by west Cork-based Sol Solomon of Wyrdwood, depict an owl, a kingfisher, a pine marten, a red squirrel and an otter.
Last Sunday early-morning walkers discovered the head of the wooden heron had been hacked off while the entire body of the Greenland goose sculpture had vanished, leaving only a pair of feet on the wooden plinth.
Mayor of Killarney and a long-time member of the voluntary Killarney Tidy Towns/Killarney Looking Good committee Michael Gleeson said he was “dismayed” at the vandalism.
“It is extremely difficult for any reasonable person to comprehend the mentality of the person or persons who carried out this pathetic deed,” he told the Irish Examiner.
"They were erected especially to inspire children to recognise and respect the local fauna.”
Killarney Tidy Towns chairwoman Yvonne Quill confirmed that members of the public retrieved the missing sculpture parts in the National Park on Thursday and swift repair work ensued.
“We are delighted that the severed sections have been returned,” she said.
The trail is located close to a popular playground in Knockreer, Killarney National Park, minutes' walk from the town centre.
This latest act of vandalism has caused outrage in the town.
“We all hope that the moment of madness that led to their being damaged will not be repeated,” added the town’s mayor.
“Killarney has a proud record of respecting public spaces and we all hope that this act of wanton vandalism was a momentary aberration."
In July two of the sculptures were seriously damaged, with the tail hacked off the otter and holes and scrapes gouged into the sculptures’ varnished woodwork.