Father Mathew statue in Cork


Sir, - A recent Irishwoman's Diary by Mary Leland (The Irish Times, July 10th) gave an incorrect impression in relation to the proposed relocation of the Father Mathew Statue in St Patrick's Street, Cork. The overall tone seemed to suggest that Cork Corporation proposed to downgrade the status of this monument (and, by implication, Father Mathew himself), all at the whim of a Spanish architect and urban designer. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The existing location, while undoubtedly prestigious, strategic and accessible when the statue was erected in 1864, is now in the middle of a busy street and adjacent to a very busy junction. The statue itself is partly obscured by the clutter of the modern streetscape and surrounding traffic, and is often unnoticed by drivers and pedestrians alike.

At the proposed new location, which is only about 125 metres from the present one, Father Mathew would be in a prominent and commanding position overlooking virtually all of St Patrick's Street, and at a location which could now be considered equally prestigious and appropriate.

When the objectives of the St Patrick's Street urban renewal scheme are realised, the street will have considerably less traffic, widened pedestrian areas enhanced by attractive and aesthetic granite paving, and a considerable reduction in signage, markings and other clutter. None of this is reflected in your article.

The proposal to relocate the statue is part of an overall scheme and should not be considered in isolation. Details of the scheme have been available for inspection at City Hall, Cork, since June 21st, and written comments thereon will be duly considered by Cork Corporation, in accordance with the requirements of Part X of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Regulations, 1994.

The proposals do not, as stated by your correspondent, involve narrowing the footpath at one side of the street. In fact the pedestrian areas are generally widened on both sides. Equally, there are no proposals to remove Seamus Murphy's wall-mounted limestone dog drinking-trough or the Berwick Fountain, the latter clearly shown on the plans as remaining in place.

In relation to the plans on display being "almost impervious to interpretation by lay people", this criticism was not accepted by Cork Corporation. Some people may have some difficulty understanding technical drawings, but the drawings on display were relatively clear in regard to existing street features, and were also accompanied by a written text describing the proposals and their objectives. - Yours, etc.,

Finbarr Long, Roads Department, Cork Corporation, City Hall, Cork.