Replacement stones in Charlottetown's Irish monument from Quebec, not counties of Ireland
The choice of stones came as a surprise to a member of the Celtic Heritage Association
A monument on the Charlottetown waterfront honouring P.E.I.'s Irish settlers has been repaired, but not quite to its original condition.
The stonework needed substantial repairs after someone appears to have driven over the site, smashing up to a third of the stones that had been collected from each of the 32 counties of Ireland.
The name of each county is written on the stone in Irish script.
The replacement stones were sourced in Quebec not from Ireland as proposed in a report prepared by the masonry conservator, Trevor Gillingwater, who designed and built the monument.
"The monument had been vandalized for some time and we wanted to get it repaired quite quickly," said Scott Adams, assistant manager of Public Works for the City of Charlottetown.
Cost of the replacement stones was also an issue, says Adams, with a price tag of about $21,000 for the project done with stones from this side of the Atlantic.
"If we had sourced it from Ireland [the cost] was significantly higher, almost $45,000 more," said Adams.
"That was part of the reason, yes."
The choice of stones came as a surprise to a member of the Celtic Heritage Association, which helped to raise $230,000 to build the Irish Settlers Memorial.
"I don't understand that, you can get them from here but they would be artificial stones," said Michael Hennessey.
"Where we had them from the actual counties, it was a representative of each of the counties of Ireland."
"I knew it was going to cost something to do that, sometimes you feel like the person who has done the damage should be the one that replaces it," Hennessey said.
"They should be replaced with the original stones."
Gillingwater has not seen the replacement stones in person but says he's disturbed to learn they are not from Ireland.
"If what I'm hearing is true, that these are not actually Irish stones then it's a huge inaccuracy," Gillingwater said.
"They've got it absolutely wrong and I would have to understand why they've gone that route."
Gillingwater wonders why he was never contacted before the work went ahead on the memorial.
"Because this is an artistic monument, built to very specific terms of reference for a client, it seems to me that certain things have been infringed on and that needs to be looked at," said Gillingwater.
"It seems to me that the city has gone ahead without regard for or respect for that."
Hennessey was particularly upset that one of the stones that has been damaged the most is from County Monaghan, which has special ties with P.E.I. Many people from the county came to the Island, where they are known as the Monaghan settlers.
"It was badly shattered and needed to be replaced, it was the worst one of the lot," Hennessey said.
"They are the ones who come over here every year and they want to have a look at the stones and they say, 'oh yeah, that's the county Monaghan stone.'"
As he looked at the restored monument for the first time, Hennessey noticed that the Monaghan stone was not in its original location.
The spot was significant, said Hennessey, because it pointed out to Charlottetown Harbour where the Monaghan settlers would have arrived by ship.
A spokesperson from the City of Charlottetown said Public Works is speaking with the contractor to have the placement corrected.
Staff with the city also feel the work on the monument fairly reflects what it looked like before the vandalism.
"Very close, from the pictures, I don't think you can really tell the difference in terms of the stone and colouring," Adams said.
There are plans for more security at the site of the Irish monument.
"There used to be rose bushes behind the cross so we have removed those and in the spring we'll be planting low shrubs so that there are good sight lines," Adams said.
"We've also added a new light post and we are working with city police to have an E-Watch camera installed here."
There are also plans to install protective plastic glass over the stones.
"Hopefully that will help with skate boarders or other people walking on the stones and hopefully we don't have the cracking and the damage that we had in the past," Adams said.
"It's great to see, it's a beautiful, beautiful monument and I'm glad it's back to its original state."
The monument overlooks the Charlottetown Harbour, just off the boardwalk, behind the Culinary Institute of Canada.
MORE P.E.I. NEWS | No 'changes on the books' for P.E.I.'s EI system, says Trudeau
MORE P.E.I. NEWS | From coal to Braille to talking books: 80 years of assisting blind Islanders