Vandals desecrate Youghal statue – by Denise FitzGerald
1/8/2013 – One of Youghal’s most famous landmarks, a statue dedicated to local cleric and 1798 martyr, Fr Peter O’Neill has been desecrated.Vandals recently painted the entire statue in a garish shade of purple and placed a yellow parking cone on its head.
Graffiti depicting the word ‘Catsley’ was also smeared at the base of the statue across the actual names of the martyrs as listed on the landmark. The incident apparently occurred between 1.30am and 7.30am, and the degradation was first discovered by a council worker who reported the incident to the Garda station in Youghal.
Responding immediately to the report, local Gardaí told The East Cork Journal that they found rubber gloves with traces of paint at the scene but nothing else that could give an indication of the perpetrators. An intensive search of the scene took place and the investigation is still ongoing. Gardaí in Youghal are very anxious to solve this crime and would be glad to hear from anyone who may have seen anything. Contact 024 92200 or the Garda Confidential Line.
Fr Peter O’Neill was the parish priest of Ballymacoda, County Cork who, at the age of 50 years, was transported to Australia having been accused of involvement in the death of an informer. He was ordered to be flogged with a cat o nine tails which had scraps of tin knotted into it.
The cleric was stripped and put on a triangle in the handball alley at Youghal. Six soldiers, two at a time, left and right handed men, flogged him until he had been given 275 lashes. Showing him the other bloody bodies hanging on the gallows, the officials threatened that they would hang him, cut off his head, and throw his body in the river if he did not reveal the names of the United Irishmen which he knew solely from the confessional. Fr O’Neill’s failure to tell caused his transportation to Australia. Permission came from Ireland in November, 1802 for Fr O’Neill to return home to Ballymacoda, where he remained until he died at the age of 86 in 1835. The local GAA park is called after Fr O’Neill.
A statue was subsequently erected in his memory at Greenpark, Youghal. Made from limestone, and inscribed with the names of other martyrs of that time, it stands in the green area which is visited by families and day trippers to the seaside resort.
Advice sought on repair of vandalised statue – by Denise FitzGerald
15/8/2013 – Reports from Youghal this week indicate that it could take quite some time before the recently vandalised Fr. Peter O’Neill statue is returned to its former glory.
The Mayor of Youghal Sammy Revins told The East Cork Journal that “due to the nature of the stonework on the statue and its age, advice is being sought from experts on the best course of action.
“We intend to have the statue of Fr O’Neill repaired properly, and are willing to wait until we get expect advice” the Mayor added.
However, as the Town Council is not sitting for the month of August, it will certainly be September, or even October, before work can commence in Greenpark.
Councillor Michelle Hennessy also spoke with The East Cork Journal and slammed the vandals who carried out the desecration.
“The painting of the statue had to be done by three of more people, due to the height of the monument. The vandals also took their time, as the statue was not just splashed but every part of it was painted with great care, even the areas under the cuff of the coat” she said.
Cllr Hennessy went on to say that the Gardaí are actively involved in this investigation, and asked anyone with any information to contact the Youghal station on 024 92200.