Carrauntoohil cross restored in dawn mission

The cross on the summit of Ireland’s highest mountain has been re-erected a week after it was cut down. Gardaí are still investigating the criminal damage to the 38-year-old structure on Carrauntoohil, Co Kerry.

A group of around 30, made up of mountaineers, landowners and others made their way to the summit before dawn on Saturday, carrying welding gear, hoists, and other material to reinstate the five-meter steel cross on the privately-owned commonage.

It follows a decision by the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks Forum to erect the cross which was made by Liebherr Ireland in 1976 for the local community, before Christmas. It had replaced an earlier wooden structure erected in the 1950s.

The forum is made up of landowners, community and business representatives, guides and various authorities including the county council and the national parks and wildlife service. They met in Killorglin and were unanimous in the decision to re-erect the cross.

Staff from Liebherr Ireland were again involved in the effort this weekend, along with relatives of the original 100 people including the adventurer Mike O’Shea. Among the party was Piaras Kelly of Kerry Climbing, who alerted social media about the damage to the cross last weekend.

However, groups such as Atheist Ireland have voiced concerns about the appropriateness of the Christian symbol on the mountain — while not condoning the vandalism which occurred. There have been calls for security on the mountain including CCTV cameras at the principal carparks, and patrols by mountain rangers.

Around 1,500 people climb the Reeks every week, the majority going up Carrauntoohil.

Gardaí were helicoptered to the scene last weekend to carry out a technical examination of the damaged monument. They are treating the felling as criminal damage.

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