Cork 'welcome' signs spark angry neighbourhood turf war

Cork 'welcome' signs spark angry neighbourhood turf war
_The Welcome to Togher sign came as a surprise to some residents who thought they were living in Wilton. Picture: Denis Scannell

A Tidy Towns initiative in a Cork suburb has sparked an acrimonious turf war between two neighbouring areas over the location of the local boundary, writes Joe Leogue.

A sign reading ‘Welcome to Togher’ has been vandalised following complaints from some residents that the new sign has been wrongly erected in the Wilton area.

However, the community group behind the sign is adamant it is in the right place, having looked up maps of the city, and consulted with council officials.

Niall McCarthy, chairman of Togher Community Association, said the community was “frightfully disappointed” with the reaction to the sign, one of a set put up by the group in May.

The five signs were erected at points approaching the suburb, including along the Sarsfield Road, a location that has proved to be contentious with some living in the area who claim their address is in Wilton.

Mr McCarthy said the group received calls, letters and a petition following the installation.

Earlier this week, the word Togher and its Irish equivalent, Tóchar, were painted over by an unknown vandal.

It is the second time the sign has been defaced in recent weeks, following an incident during which an A4 sheet reading ‘Wilton’ was sellotaped over the place name.

“Some people didn’t realise the area is actually in Togher,” Mr McCarthy said. “Over the years when estate agents were selling houses in the area they picked that name [Wilton], maybe they thought they’d get a better price. People assumed all along the area was Wilton,” he said.

Mr McCarthy said his group has written to some objectors highlighting the mapping of the area.

“They now agree that they are in the Togher parish,” he said.

Noreen Keohane has written to local TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire to complain the sign’s location has been determined by ‘ancient maps that do not apply to here and now’.

Ms Keohane said the neighbourhood is ‘devastated’ by the development.

“We got our land back from the British only to have it snatched from us by an Irish Community Association — shameful,” she wrote.

Lisa Power, who lives in Elm Park, said she grew up believing the area was in Wilton, not Togher.

“I know we’re in Togher parish but if people asked where I am from I’d say Wilton — the post coming to the house says Wilton,” she said.

Ms Power said she has not yet come across a petition being circulated in the area against the sign, but has heard concerns from some people in the neighbourhood: “Some are quite angry, they bought houses here in Wilton and they think it will affect the value of the houses if they are in Togher, it’s not an unfair thing to say,” she said.

Mr McCarthy said that the signs, paid for with grants from the County Council, are here to stay: “We are very proud of Togher; there has been a huge amount of work done in the area in the last 20 years upgrading the community centre and establishing our music school.

“You see signs across Cork like ‘Welcome to Ballincollig’ or ‘Welcome to Douglas’ or wherever. We are proud of Togher and want to do the same thing,” he said.

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