Lanesboro-Ballyleague memorial restored

John Casey, Sarah Crinigan, and Denis Devereaux at the newly-restored memorial in Lanesboro. Inset: the inscription on the memorial. Photo: Declan Gilmore Photography
There’s a lot to be said for community spirit.

There’s a lot to be said for community spirit.

Just ask the four members which make up Shannonside Heritage, a voluntary body whose prime function has remained as it has since its inception in 2005-to promote the many strands that make up Lanesboro/Ballyleague’s rich cultural heritage.

Earlier this year, much of the group’s best laid plans lay in tatters when overnight vandalism left one of its most prized monuments in ruins.

Derived from polished granite, a memorial designed to recognise a ferry boat tragedy in 1701 had taken pride of place along the shores of the Shannon since its erection in 2008.

The Ferry Boat Tragedy Memorial was also dedicated to the memory of those who had lost their lives on the River Shannon in the area, quickly becoming a focal point for families and tourists alike.

Earlier this year, however, locals were left aghast following news of the statue’s untimely demise along with a €4,000 bill of damage to boot.

Fast forward the best part of six months and the feeling permeating through the wider community is of an altogether different variety.

“The stone seat and table that we, in conjunction with Lanesboro Tourism Co-op erected, was really something to behold,” said local man Denis Devereaux.

“But when it was vandalised it was unfortunately smashed beyond repair.”

Not surprisingly, Mr Devereaux together with the vast majority of the wider Lanesboro/Ballyleague area were left devastated.

In his role as Secretary of Shannonside Heritage, attempts to conjure up a lasting replacement were explored.

One possibility focused on the erection of a timber style picnic bench, an avenue which soon hit a dead end due to funding problems.

The saviour as it turned out, arrived in the shape of kind-hearted donations from local businesses and one individual in particular.

“There were many people that helped out, but one I have to thank especially was Tom Moran, the manager of Lough Ree Power Station,” said Mr Devereaux.

“Without that support, we would not have been able to replace the table and seat.”

Apart from its important historical relevance, Mr Devereaux said the new look civic amenity carries a distinct calming appeal.

“The way it looks now, it is a lovely place to just come and sit and look over the lake.”

And just as its preceding equivalent, the statue is already being eulogised as one of south Longford’s most unique and ornate creations.

“This is a remembrance to people who have lost their lives. It’s not just about a ferry boat tragedy,” said a plain speaking Mr Deveraux.

“Hopefully, now it will be respected as such.”

It’s a wish, not just Mr Devereaux, but the lion’s share of Lanesboro and Ballyleague undoubtedly share.