An emigration monument on Penrose Quay in Cork city centre has been damaged by vandalism, prompting calls from local politicians to restore it to its former glory.
The Listening Posts, four stainless steel beacons, previously played recordings of interviews with hundreds of emigrants, their descendants, those they left behind, and workers on the emigrant ships. These included the voices of emigrants who wanted to return to Ireland, and those who were glad they got away.
Their voices were combined with marine, industrial and musical sounds, played in a random sequence 24-hours a day.
The installation cost €100,000 when it was unveiled in 2006 at Penrose Quay, where emigrants once boarded ships to leave Cork.
The installation was created by sculptor Daphne Wright, who was elected a member of Aosdána in 2011, along with Johnny Hanrahan of the CIT School of Music, and British sound designer Dan Jones. However, the artwork is no longer working because of vandalism.
The speakers have been physically damaged and rubbish and other materials have been pushed into the gaps.
The Green Party in Cork has urged Cork City Council to work with private developers in the area to bring the monument back to use. Office, apartment and hotel developments are already under construction on Penrose Quay and Horgan's Quay, and more high-profile developments are mooted for the area too.
Cllr Oliver Moran said it was now an appropriate time to restore the installation as the area is set for increased pedestrian traffic.
"It’s a unique monument and remembers the heritage of the area in a very authentic way. Unfortunately, it’s been badly vandalised, but hopefully salvageable,” he said.
“At least a part of the reason it suffered is from being a little out of the way before, but now we have major office buildings and apartments being built immediately around it.
“That would give the kind of passive supervision that would hopefully deter vandalism again.”
Mr Moran said that developers involved in the nearby construction projects could contribute to the restoration.
"It’s not every place that has an installation by the likes of artists like these. Restoring it would add further value to the developments taking place around it. These kinds of things add a sense of place," he said.
"They place new developments in the docklands in the context of the history and community of Cork. It would be especially significant in a place that will now have many newcomers to Ireland, working and living nearby- completing the circle between migration then and today.”