Clare County Council has been forced to "pause" plans to erect a controversial statue of a Púca in the town of Ennistymon, after widespread local criticism of the proposed piece that it was "grotesque and scary".
The Council proposed placing the 6ft-tall interpretive art piece on a plinth at the end of Lower Church Hill in the town, as part of enhanced tourism and visitor measures to encourage more people to stay there.
The Council said the proposed "Púca of Ennistymon" sculpture was to form part of a €500,000 capital investment programme by Fáilte Ireland aimed at increasing visitor dwell in the town as well as improving and developing signage, pedestrian access and additional car parking.
This was to develop the town's untapped potential from being a transit zone that people pass through, to a destination where visitors want to stay longer and experience local culture.
It said it was inspired by the town's equine heritage and Irish folklore and was one of 18 submissions received under an artist's tendering brief.
However, there was widespread local and public dismay when images of the proposed Púca statue were shared on social media, with many feeling it was not an appropriate image in keeping with the heritage of the town, and the widespread belief the Púca can bring bad luck.
Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway, who lives in the town, said he is 100% against the erection of the statue, which he described as ugly visually, and which can cause offence to some people.
He said the plan now needs to be abandoned and there should be more consultation with local people about their ideas and how they could influence a piece that would be more appropriate.
Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe said the issue was the talk of the town when he was there yesterday. He described the proposed sculpture as hideous, and said it appears there was very little consultation with local businesses and the community about what they would like to be represented in their town.
Following local objections to the artist sculpture concept, Clare County Council has paused its plans to erect it to enable a broader public engagement process to take place and will engage in a listening process with the local community over the coming weeks.
Denis Vaughan, of Save Ennistymon's Heritage, has described it as a "monstrosity" with "no relevance to the town of Ennistymon, which has an agricultural tradition".
Speaking on RTÉ's News at One he said Ennistymon is a small market town and accused the County Council of a lack of consultation with locals on the matter.