The groups, in Lismore, say they won’t let the theft hinder their celebration of 25 years as a heritage town. Ironically, the town just last week celebrated success in the nationwide Adopt A Monument scheme.
Crowbars were used to remove two roadside mile-markers, or milestones, from the limestone walls on the Lismore-to-Tallow road, in west Waterford.
Mealla Fahey, of Lismore Heritage, appealed to anyone who had seen anything suspicious on the Lismore-Tallow road last Wednesday night, or in the early hours of Thursday morning, to contact them or the gardaí.
“These cast-iron mile-markers are y-shaped, painted black and white, and feature the distance in miles, between Tallow and Lismore. They are about 3ft tall and about a foot wide, painted white with black writing, and are very distinctive. There are only five of them in all in this general area so we’re very anxious to trace them and have them returned.
“They were probably taken to be sold on to Irish pubs abroad, so we would appeal to anyone in the market for such memorabilia to be on the look out. It has been a phenomenal year for this tight-knit community, and we were honoured to be crowned the Fáilte Ireland Top Small Tourism Town 2015 and have some great festivities planned for May 14, to celebrate 25 years as a tourism town.
“This is extremely disappointing and disheartening. But it will not dissuade our efforts in any way. If anything, this theft will further unite and motivate what is a fantastic heritage town community.”
The theft came just days after Lismore was confirmed as one of five areas nation-wide to be included under the Irish Heritage Council’s Adopt A Monument scheme.
Work is also about to begin on the restoration of 19th century ice-houses on the edge of the town, in a joint project involving the local Tidy Towns Committee and Waterford City and County Council.
Tidy Towns spokesperson, Mary O’Brien, was one of the first to be alerted: “These mile-markers were landmarks for over 160 years, and I can’t understand the mindset of anyone who would prise them from their limestone mortar in the dead of night,” she said.
“We’re flabbergasted, but we won’t let it stop us in our tracks. We’re driving on with our Adopt A Monument programme, with our 1916 commemoration event in Millennium Park here in Lismore, on April 17, and with our 25-year celebrations in mid-May. We would appeal to whoever took these iconic landmarks to return them, or to anyone who is offered them for sale to alert us, or the appropriate authorities.”