Mural Of Irish Priest Who Saved Lives Of Jews Defaced With Hitler References

A mural in Kerry of a priest who helped save thousands of lives in Nazi-occupied Rome has been defaced with Hitler graffiti by vandals.

Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, who grew up in Killarney, helped save the lives of over 6,500 Jewish people and Allied soldiers during World War II, with a mural in his honour being erected on Matt Talbot Road in Tralee.

However, the mural has been defaced — with a toothbrush moustache similar to Hitler’s being scribbled on Monsignor O’Flaherty’s face, as well as the words ‘Hitler this.’

Pic: Mary J Leen/Facebook
A mural of a Kerry priest who helped save thousands of lives in Rome has been defaced with Hitler references by vandals. Pic: Mary J Leen/Facebook

The mural’s artist Mary J Leen condemned the vandal, saying ‘I was very disappointed to see my mural of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty vandalized recently in Tralee.

‘I especially feel saddened for the family of Msgr. O’Flaherty. They don’t deserve to see this. To see this war hero, and brave Kerry man, that saved thousands of people from the Nazi’s during the war. To now, ironically be compared to Hitler. It is very wrong.

‘This mural was painted in 2015 and luckily, I had used a protective, anti-graffiti protective seal, and I have been able to undo the damage caused.’

Pic: Mary J Leen/Facebook
The mural of Monsignor O’Flaherty was defaced with a toothbrush moustache and the phrase ‘Hitler this’ — with the artist and a local councillor condemning the vandals. Pic: Mary J Leen/Facebook

‘Art is about self-expression, and everyone has the right to express their own opinion through their art. They do not have a right to express their opinion through another person’s art. Or to deface the work of another artist.

‘As an art teacher I encourage students to look and respond to art. This is healthy, so I am respectfully calling out the individual that did this to respond to this painting in a healthy and dignified way by creating their own artwork and offer it for public display. I will even anonymously post their response on my page.

‘If someone can be brave enough to vandalize the work of another artist, then I encourage them to be brave enough to do their own artwork in response and we can have a public discussion about it.’

Sinn Féin Councillor Cathal Foley also condemned the vandalism, encouraging anyone who may have witnessed it to ring Gardaí and saying that the vandalism was done by ‘kids who had nothing better to be doing.’

‘This will be rectified shortly, and look, if anyone sees anyone at these murals I’d ask them to ring the Gardaí,’ Cllr Foley told Radio Kerry. ‘The Garda station is very close to the area and if [people] see things like this they should contact the Gardaí.

‘I’m hoping it’s some kids with nothing better to be doing — maybe they should take up artistry themselves and contribute to the betterment of the town rather than defacing our lovely murals.’

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