Posted on September 14, 2022
The sight of the canal finally being dredged will have cheered the hearts of everyone in Bridgetown, eased fears that they face another winter of rising tides and freak flooding. But the access point used by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to get to the canal has seen the Garden of Remembrance, the tribute to those who died in the 1916 Easter Rising, destroyed, trampled over by workmen as they make their way in and out of the water.
And while everyone in the area has welcomed the works, local Councillor Jim Codd is unhappy at the decision to access the water at this specific point.
“I understood from Wexford County Council (WCC) officials that the OPW would find a different way in to the canal and was horrified to discover that they had pulled up the garden, especially, during this, a year of commemoration in which we honour our fight for independence,” said the Aontú councillor. “There was a lot of effort put into building it and a lot of money spent by the council on it and then to turn around and pull it up five years later shows a terrible lack of communication between the council and the community.”
Unveiled on Easter Monday in 2017, the garden was developed to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising and contains a headstone with the words of the Irish Proclamation of Independence. According to Cllr Codd a more suitable entry point could have been located along the banks of the canal.
“There’s currently a number of diggers working on it and everyone appreciates the canal must be dredged but previously the diggers have gone in a different way, there’s a number of areas of waste ground they could have used to go in there,” he said. “There’s no need to go in there, obviously we want it dredged but there’s no need to destroy the garden, it just shows a lack of regard for the founders of the state.”
However, Councillor Jim Moore has counteracted those claims and says the entry point used by the OPW is the same one used for centuries.
“The access to the canal has been there for hundreds of years, it is an access that has been operated by both the OPW as part of the dredging process and the local community through all the commercial life that went on, including being used as a drinking area for the horses,” he said.
Cllr Moore then added that there “was consultation beforehand with the group that established it, that consultation is continuing and there will be works which will only enhance the area undertaken once this work is finished” and said that given local concerns over repeat instances of flooding, a regular access point had to be established.
“One thing we have to ensure is that there’s continuous access for the OPW so they can maintain the area, whether it’s every year or every two years, that access point needs to be maintained to preserve a quality of life for the people there and there’s no hindrance to the drainage systems,” he said. “I’m quite happy that the engineers from the OPW and WCC are working hard with the group that founded the memorial. That is the best place to go in, it’s the established area, it’s a public area, anywhere else you look along the canal is privately owned.”