By Kieran O’Mahony
THE demand for signposts of Béal na Bláth is so high that even temporary foam signs put up for the annual commemoration event are being stolen.
The theft of signposts for the monument site has been an ongoing problem for Cork County Council for years, with souvenir hunters stealing the signs as soon as Cork County Council had put them up.
However, the Council is now planning to erect a series of tamper-proof signs to stop thieves from stealing them.
A spokesperson for Cork County Council said that the theft of signage for the Béal na Bláth monument had become so bad that the Council had stopped putting up signs for it.
It might explain why locals are constantly being stopped by tourists looking for directions to the famous ambush site.
‘It is not true to say there are no signs, but it just depends which direction you are coming from. In any case, a plan has been prepared to link the various sites in West Cork associated with Michael Collins and we are awaiting agreement from the various agencies to erect a series of signs which will be tamper-proof,’ said the spokesperson.
The lack of signage for the monument site, where Michael Collins was assassinated in 1922, was highlighted in The Southern Star last week, in a letter to the paper by two American tourists, highlighting the lack of visible directions to the hugely popular monument site.
Gary and Alison Long from Boston said that the site was ‘nearly impossible to find’, and that they only came across one small sign while on their journey.
Dermot Collins, chairman of the Béal na Bláth Commemoration Committee, welcomed the proposed move by the Council to erect tamper-proof signposts.
‘This is a positive move by Cork County Council and especially with next year’s centenary celebrations for 1916 taking place,’ he said.
‘There have always been problems with the theft of signposts and it has been disappointing to see that people will steal them even after the Council went to the expense of putting them up in the first place.’
‘The thing is, you could come from either the Kinsale or Clonakilty direction, and you won’t come across any signposts for Béal na Bláth. We put up these light aeroboard signs every year, in strategic places, on the day of the annual commemoration event and when we go to collect them later, most of them are gone. People will even collect these signs, even though they’re worthless.’
Thousands of people are once again expected at this year’s annual commemoration, which takes place on Sunday August 23rd with Justice & Equality Minister Frances Fitzgerald, coming to West Cork to speak at the event.
‘All we do every year is make it a simple ceremony and mark it in a dignified way, and we get people coming from all over the world to come to the commemoration event every year. Michael Collins continues to be an interesting figure for both young and old,’ concluded Mr Collins.