Dramatists in search of a subject for a comic opera might consider drawing inspiration from the town of Limerick, a location already famous for its lace and its association with Edward Lear’s distinctive nonsense verse. Limerick has also gained fame in recent times for electing an ex-convict as its mayor and for its entertaining, yet somewhat baffling, dispute over the Royal Arms.
Once upon a time, the Royal Arms adorned the Town Hall of Limerick. A gentleman with strong Nationalist beliefs decided that it would be more consistent with his principles if the Royal Arms were removed. Consequently, the symbol of royalty was taken down and stored in an attic, cellar, or storeroom, where it was soon forgotten. However, a member of the Limerick Town Council, Joseph Byan, conspired with two others, John Fitzgerald and Joseph Egan, to secretly remove the Royal Arms from their hiding place. Upon discovering the theft, the once-dusty relic was suddenly thrust into the spotlight.
Just as some individuals gain more attention after their passing than during their lives, the Royal Arms of Limerick attracted more attention after it had been stolen than when it was properly displayed.
The great question now is who should keep the Royal Arms: the Corporation or the Councillor. The Crown authorities have been contacted and they decline to prosecute, seemingly amused by the idea of an Irishman – especially a Limerick Town Councillor – who values the Royal Arms enough to steal them. However, they do not wish to interfere with the course of justice and have left it up to the Limerick Corporation to decide whether to prosecute.
The Corporation’s decision remains unknown, presumably lying in the hands of the United Irish League. It is hoped that the Corporation possesses a sense of humor to keep the joke going merrily. Mr Daly might even rise to the occasion and make the Royal Arms of Limerick as immortal as its infamous siege.
Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Tuesday 27 May 1902