Accidents Happen

Eight years ago, the Irish Aesthete wrote about the Volunteer Arch at Lawrencetown, County Galway (see: Gateway to the New Year « The Irish Aesthete). As was explained then, this monumental gateway was built in 1782 as the principal entrance to an estate called Bellevue owned by Colonel Walter Lawrence, an ardent supporter of the Volunteer movement and of Henry Grattan’s efforts to achieve greater legislative independence for the Irish parliament. Following the realisation of the latter ambition, the colonel erected this arch which consists of a main entrance flanked by smaller openings which in turn are connected to two-room lodges. The entrance is surmounted by a pediment topped with an urn and with a carved medallion beneath, while sphinxes rest on either side. A recessed panel directly beneath the pediment bears a Latin inscription which translated reads ‘Liberty after a long servitude was won on the 16th April 1782 by the armed sons of Hibernia, who with heroic fortitude, regained their Ancient Laws and established their Ancient Independence.’ The arch was restored some years ago, not least thanks to the efforts of a local voluntary group, but what was once the private entrance to an estate is now a public road and in consequence the structure recently suffered serious damage, as can be seen in the images below: these suggest that a tall vehicle collided with the upper section of the arch, knocking out the keystone and thereby rendering the whole thing vulnerable to collapse. Since it is listed for protection, the local authority has, it seems, committed to carrying out necessary repairs, and these need to be undertaken sooner rather than later if the arch is to survive. But just as importantly, some protective bollards need to be erected in its immediate vicinity, and perhaps something discreet to moderate the height of vehicles passing under the arch. Otherwise this will remain an accident waiting to happen again.

Photographs by George Gossip

4 comments on “Accidents Happen

  1. Stephen Barker says:

    That is a neat trick to take out the keystone but to leave other parts of the arch intact.

  2. teresastokes says:

    Ouch! Surely it would not be too difficult to put the keystone back and make it stronger? I hope those keep out notices won’t be around for weeks and weeks.

  3. TobyC says:

    The general public cannot be trusted to drive through there with all manner of vehicles, they should pave a road to one side and block the one going through.

  4. Brett Fitzgerald says:

    Sounds like all the Volunteers banded together to mark the occasion. Col William Persse of the Roxborough Volunteers, built a bridge on his Roxborough grounds in 1783, to symbolise the era.
    To further add, Henry Grattan was made an honorary member of this unit.

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