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A memorial with a difference

January 19th, 2016 7:15 AM

By Southern Star Team

Val Carnie from Drinagh with her dog William, and Mary Pyne from Dunmanway, pictured beside their ‘Rainbow Wall' pet memorial in Dunmanway.

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To many people, their animal friends mean the world to them. One only has to observe the number of people walking their dogs (or is it the dogs walking their owners?!) any fine day in town or country.  We read in the media of some startling facts relating to animal welfare in Ireland. According to one report, in the region of 30 dogs are abandoned every day in Ireland, but the number of adoptions is increasing steadily. The Cork Society for the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA) website illustrates just how busy they are in caring for and endeavouring to find homes for a wide range of abandoned cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, gerbils, hamsters, goats and recently, more exotic pets such as snakes and spiders.

But thankfully, huge numbers of people love their pets and treat them with great love, care and respect.  Early in 2014, two such individuals set about creating a pet memorial facility in Dunmanway.  Val Carnie and Mary Pyne are true animal lovers.  Both have owned pets throughout their lives and are acutely aware of how attached one becomes to an animal and how difficult and traumatic the parting can be when their pet’s life ends.

So, to address this issue, they thought that if West Cork pet owners could somehow physically and permanently mark their pets passing, it could be very fitting and beneficial to the grieving process. They spoke to Dunmanway vet David Smyth of Brookpark Veterinary Hospital, and with his support, they took charge of a historic area near the entrance to his property. This is a 40-foot stretch of the old railway platform at which the train to West Cork halted.

Val and Mary cleaned and painted the wall and then decorated it tastefully and artistically with images of all kinds of animals, trees, etc. As a centrepiece they placed a painting of ‘The Rainbow Bridge’ on the wall. Val explained that many believe the Rainbow Bridge is a place on this side of Heaven.  When an animal that has been particularly close to someone here dies, that pet goes just beyond the Rainbow Bridge, where they live and play happily and wait for their owners, with whom, when they die, they are joyously reunited on the bridge.

Several plaques adorn Val and Mary’s Rainbow Bridge Memorial Wall. One reads: ‘Shed a tear – For all God’s creatures who have been starved, beaten, tortured, killed, by the hand of man. Say a prayer for mankind.’  Pets names are inscribed here, some with appropriate verses.  Included are touching words relating to dogs, cats, donkeys and more.

This wall occupies quite a large space and Val and Mary are inviting anybody and everybody who has lost any kind of pet to come along and get a plaque made and mounted on the wall.

They have provided a seat where people can come and sit among the trees in this peaceful spot and think of their past friends. A large steel water crane stands solemly nearby, a reminder of the busy West Cork Railway.  Val would love to get some information and photos of the railway station to erect around the area.

This project is voluntary and non-profit.  In fact, Val and Mary have funded all of the expenses themselves.  One plaque says ‘Fairies Welcome’ indicating that the next phase of development will hopefully see a whole lot of fairy houses appearing on the site – as has happened in a few locations around West Cork already. This is very much a work in progress. ‘Goodness knows how long this will take,’ says Val, ‘but, who cares?!’  They both speak very highly of vet David Smyth who has supported and facilitated this innovative memorial.

For more information, email Val at [email protected]  Or, if one wishes to go ahead with erecting a plaque themselves, Val and Mary recommend getting in touch with Shaun McCormack, Dunmanway at 086-8671400, the Sign Studio in Skibbereen at 028-23778, or enter ‘Pet Memorials’ on ebay for other options (making sure it is weatherproof).  The author feels that, if one so wishes, it might be a nice gesture to email a message of support to Val and Mary.

Val and Mary don’t mind if people perceive them to be ‘animal mad’ or ‘away with the fairies’ – these two kind and warm-hearted women shine a beacon for all who love and care for animals and are a perfect example of the merits of always remaining positive and young at heart.

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