A COMMEMORATIVE plaque dedicated to the ten Achill youths who died in the Kirkintilloch bothy fire disaster was vandalised just four days after it was erected in Scotland.
The new plaque, marking the 70th anniversary of the bothy fire, was unveiled on Saturday, September 15, by a delegation from Achill which included family members of the victims. Wreaths and flowers were also placed by family members on the spot where the disaster occurred.
However, just four days after the plaque was unveiled, it was vandalised and the flowers and wreaths were kicked and trashed. The plaque, which was made from granite and had the names and ages of the ten victims inscribed, was struck by an object believed to be a hammer or a stone.
The vandalism was condemned by those involved in the commemoration event, which also included an exhibition detailing the events of the tragedy.
Kirkintilloch based councillor, Charles Kennedy – whose parents came from Binghamstown in Belmullet – condemned the attack and told The Mayo News the Council and all involved in the commemoration were saddened and shocked by what had happened. He added that he did not feel there was a sectarian element to the attack; it was down to ‘yob culture’.
“To be honest, I felt sick to the stomach when I heard what had happened. I know Achill very well and the significance of Kirkintilloch to the people and it saddens me that the memory of the ten youths could be desecrated in this manner. Since it happened the Council have been inundated with letters from people who are saddened and upset at what happened. There was a suggestion that the attack was sectarian but I don’t think it was. I think it was sheer vandalism and badness that is eating away at the core of society,” he said.
The site of the bothy fire is now a mainly industrial area and Cllr Kennedy said there was no CCTV in the area of the plaque and while the local police are investigating the incident, he does not believe anybody will be caught.
The plaque was co-funded by the Gaelic League in Scotland and the East Dunbartonshire Council and while Cllr Kennedy called for an immediate replacement, he said the new monument should be more substantial