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Amenity park to be home to new Gráinne Og statue

Story by Tadhg Carey

Wednesday, 25th January, 2012 4:15pm

The replacement Gráinne "g statue is to be erected in the proposed Midlands Amenity Park in Moate, Westmeath County Council has decided.

In March last, the road sculpture in the country was stolen from its site on the Moate interchange along the M6 motorway.

The four metres high, bronze and stainless steel piece entitled Gráinne "g, which weighed over one tonne, was commissioned in 2007 at a cost of €64,000 by Westmeath County Council. It stood on top of a three metre high concrete base and its absence was first brought to the council's attention on March 16, 2011.

After the theft, the council agreed to reinstate the statue, albeit in a different location. Following a recent call for submissions on possible locations for the statue, the council opted to back the most popular option.

The news emerged at last week's meeting of the Athlone area committee of Westmeath County Council where arts officer Catherine Kelly outlined the results of the public consultation process.

However, Director of Services Barry Kehoe argued strongly in favour of the statue being located in front of the courthouse in Moate.

He said the area in front of the courthouse needed something to give it a lift. "It's not an attractive area at present and the courthouse in its present condition is not an attractive building."

"It would need something more than the Gráinne "g statue," remarked Cllr Tom Allen.

Mr Kehoe, however, insisted the move to erect a replacement statue provided the council with an opportunity to be creative with the space in front of the courthouse. He said it would represent a catalyst for the revival of that part of Moate.

"The courthouse could be a very attractive building if the area in front of it could be enhanced and if the courthouse itself could be brought back into use." he said.

However, both Cllr Joe Whelan and Cllr Tom Allen backed the proposal to site the new statue in the amenity park. The latter said this represented the weight of local opinion on the issue.

Arts Officer Ms Kelly explained the new statue was not an exact replica of the previous statue. She said it had been redesigned to suit a pedestrian area.

The council, on the proposal of Tom Allen and seconded by Cllr Frankie Keena agreed to select the amenity park as the the home for the new statue.

Cllr Keena asked that Ms Kelly meet with the amenity park committee to identify a precise location for the statue.