A Limerick City grotto, badly damaged in a random act of vandalism last year, has been restored thanks to a landmark project by the Limerick Civic Trust.
The heritage group in Limerick worked with Limerick City Regeneration group and Limerick City Council to refurbish the statue that was badly desecrated last year.
The damage caused to the grotto, located in Ballinacurra Weston in Limerick, included obscene images drawn on the statue of Our Lady and names daubed on the dome overhead.
The arms of the statue of Our Lady were broken and horses were seen grazing within the shrine area walls.
The director of the Limerick Civic Trust, Dr James Ring, said that they felt compelled to act after seeing a number of reports about the grotto in both local and national newspapers.
Following a meeting with local residents and local parish priest Fr Damien Ryan, the Trust spent six weeks restoring the icon.
He said, “Normally we would not get involved in religious projects like this, but the reason we got involved this time is because it represented the heritage of the Weston community.”
The newly restored grotto has a much different appearance to the old one.
According to Dr Ring, “instead of grass, which allowed horses to graze, what we have done is we have taken down the wall and rebuilt around it. The whole grotto was turned around to face in a southerly direction, because this was its natural bearing. We took down the walls and took away all the grass and paved it over with a beautiful limestone finish.”
Dr Ring also said that locals, “especially local children,” have really taken to the newly restored grotto.
“I was walking down there the other night and I saw three kids cleaning the grotto. This was a real positive thing for me.”