Shillelagh Stick sculpture to be unveiled
A new landmark on the south Wicklow landscape will be officially unveiled this weekend in Shillelagh.
The village will commememorate an important piece of its heritage as a large oak Shillelagh Stick sculpture and interpretive panel are unveiled at the village green at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 10.
Sculptor Joey Burns and Fred Verdier of Wicklow Tourism will perform the offical unveiling, alongside Deirdre Whitfield and Christine Flood from Wicklow County Council.
The project has been developed thanks to funding under the Towns and Village Renewal Scheme.
Centuries ago, warrior stick fighters from the Shillelagh territories were so renowned for their martial arts skills and ferocity that their name became synonymous with the weapon they were so adept with, and thus the Shillelagh stick came to be. Shillelaghs are generally made from the wood of the blackthorn tree, which was strong, flexible and plentiful in the area.
The brand new Shillelagh Heritage Trail will also be launched on Saturday.
Deirdre Burns, Heritage Officer at Wicklow County Council, and Minister Simon Harris will officially open the trail at 3 p.m. in Shillelagh Courthouse. A special heritage trail booklet will also be launched and copies will be on sale on the day.
The trail explores the estate village of Shillelagh, which was developed by the Fitzwilliam family to support their Irish home at Coollattin, then takes people on a tour of the south Wicklow countryside.
Places of interest along the trail include Ardeen House, the union workhouse, Deegans Bridge, the mill race start, the Dying Cow and Tomnafinnoge Woods.
The trail, which can be enjoyed on foot, driving or on a bicycle, has been developed in conjunction with the heritage department at Wicklow County Council.
These initiatives are the work of the Shillelagh Peoples Property Company, which was bequeathed various properties by Lady Juliet Fitzwilliam and who now act as custodians of these properties. The company also engages with Shillelagh Tidy Towns and has a greater ambition of developing Shillelagh as a tourism heritage hub.
They plan to twin with Wentworth in south Yorkshire, another Fitzwilliam estate village, and are hoping plans to develop the Arklow to Shillelagh Recreational Trail come to fruition. It is hoped this trail would follow as near as possible the old railway line that ran to Shillelagh and was primarily built to serve Coollattin Park. It was known as ‘The Fitzwilliam Line’ but it closed in 1945.
The new sculpture in Shillelagh village.