Road signs directing people to areas associated with Michael Collins are being regularly stolen and some replacements may not be erected until next year.
In the centenary year of the Easter Rising it had been hoped signs would be put up around West Cork and in particular on main roads to show visitors the way to his birthplace near Clonakilty and where he was shot dead, at Béal na Bláth.
However, council officials say they cannot erect them on the only national road in west Cork (N71) without getting permission for locations from Transport Initiative Ireland and it is likely to be next year before that happens.
Dermot Collins, chairman of the Béal na Bláth commemoration committee, said the news “was most disappointing” and he called for the signs to be fast-tracked, because visitors are continually getting lost trying to access sites associated with the Big Fella.
He said lack of proper signage was compounded by the theft of the few remaining.
“Some years ago, people used to steal the old wrought iron signs and they’d end up in pubs in America. Then, they started stealing the newer tin signs. It got so bad, we used to put up aeroboard signs a few days before the annual commemoration, but they started disappearing too. Some people were taking them as souvenirs.
“The Government has big plans for commemorations throughout the country and surely one of the most basic things is proper signposts to places like Béal na Bláth and other Civil War and War of Independence sites, which are close by.”
The Béal na Bláth site is two miles from Independence Museum Kilmurry which is due to open soon. It will display artifacts associated with the 1922 ambush there and other local history.
Mr Collins said people came to the area from all over the world and even many Irish people struggled to find Michael Collins sites.
“This isn’t a good image for the country. People can’t understand why these places aren’t properly signposted. We can’t showpiece our history without them.”
A sign pointing to Collins’s birthplace at Woodfield, west of Clonakilty, was recently knocked down.
Council officials said they had already mapped out locations for the new Collins signs and some were ready to go up on minor roads they controlled.
However, they said a lot were earmarked for the N71 and that, while they were in discussion with TII about proposed locations for the main road, they probably wouldn’t be erected this year.
Cllr Noel O’Donovan (FG) is lodging a motion at the next full county council meeting seeking backing to put pressure on TII to install the main road signs quickly.
“It’s critical they are put up, because they’ll point to areas of national importance,” he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved