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Arts editor needs a ‘reality check’ on artefacts

Your arts editor needs a month off work, for an in-depth reality check. His article, ‘Stolen moments in British Museum’, (Irish Examiner, Nov 4), calls for items to be returned to their countries of origin.

Laughably, he recommends that the large ogham stone, from Roovesmoor, should be re-erected in West Cork, there to endure inevitable, long-term destruction by Ireland’s weather, or short-term destruction by the roads department, the people who are erecting electricity pylons in kilometre-wide swathes over hill, house and dale, or, as has happened since ‘Farmer O’Reilly’ discovered the plough, to disappear, before transmogrifying into a new barn.

The arts editor then demands that an American Indian carving be given back to the tribe that sold it in 1932; that a stone figure should be returned to languish unseen on one of the Easter Isles; that the Elgin Marbles be given back to impoverished Greece, when Opolous would surely flog them to a passing Chinese investor.

The arts editor continues his quaint diatribe with the words “robbed, looted, stripped and stolen goods” before advising he has written an “outraged” letter to the director of the British Museum, demanding the return of the ogham stones.

One can imagine the director shaking in fear, while his trembling hand reaches for the phone, to call the general post office to arrange the collection of a large stone destined for West Cork.

Maybe the arts editor should be more concerned with matters in Ireland; the road beside Tara, the destruction of a neolithic sun temple on a hill above Fermoy; in fact, the dozens of unprotected and irreplaceable Irish neolithic relics, left to the forces of farmer and nature.

First, sir, fix your home, before interfering with your neighbours.

My letter to the director of the British Museum follows.

Chris Callaghan
Co Cork


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