BY KEN FOXE
CORK County Council demanded a refund of €33,000 from a Glengarriff tourism group for a statue of Maureen O’Hara that could not be put on public display.
The Council wrote to Glengarriff Tourism and Development Association saying that because no statue had been ‘delivered’ or ‘erected,’ they would be seeking full repayment of the grant.
In an email to the Association in December, a Council official wrote: ‘It is imperative that the funds are returned to the Council and that I can advise our finance and auditing department to expect them next week.’
The Council ended up accepting a payment of €26,250 along with the unused statue, from which the cast bronze is considered to be worth several thousand euro.
The statue of the actress was supposed to have been erected in Glengarriff, which had become Ms O’Hara’s adopted home in her later years. However, the sculpture was deemed ‘unacceptable’ by the Council and considered not ‘suitable for installation.’
Records from Cork County Council, which were released under the Freedom of Information Act, show at one stage the Council feared all €33,000 might be ‘irrecoverable.’
An email from an official said: ‘I think to get back €26,250 is a reasonable outcome and I think we should close out the matter.’ A colleague responded to say: ‘I would recommend that we accept this proposal on condition that the group transfer the existing statue (that is unacceptable) to Cork County Council.
‘That way, for the money that has been spent we have something to show for it. We paid €33,000, will get back €26,250 – difference €6,750 and we have €6,750 worth of bronze cast into a statue.’
The local authority is now moving ahead with plans for a new statue for the village, which they say will be a ‘fitting commemoration.’