The removal of an Information Board recently erected at Bessbrook Pond by the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership has been condemned as a "mindless act of  criminal vandalism" by Des Murphy, Chairperson of the partnership.
 
The  noticeboard was placed  close by the picturesque Flax Flower public art sculpture which stands in Bessbrook Pond.
The notice board at Bessbrook Pond which was recently vandalised.
The notice board at Bessbrook Pond which was recently vandalised.

Des stated "The sculpture drew great attention both from locals and visitors alike. People from as far away as the USA & Europe contacted us to praise it. The Information Board was erected to highlight the rich history of Bessbrook, the Pond and the local area. It's removal has deeply frustrated those of  us people from all ages and backgrounds who are working together through  art to encourage people to reach across boundaries. We view it as a mindless act of criminal vandalism"

The Ring of Gullion Chairperson explaining what the Public Arts project had set out to achieve explained: "The public art is part of The Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership, a Heritage Lottery Fund programme to conserve and enhance some of the region’s most treasured landscapes. Newry, Mourne and Down District Council are managing the £1.4 million programme. The scheme aims to engage people with the Ring of Gullion Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and surrounding landscape".
 
He continued “know ye the fame of the bright little river, Which floweth through Bessbrook from moorland and lea, Between blue waving flax-flowers and rushes which quiver, He runs his short course from the lake to the sea.”

This is the opening verse of “The Ballad of Camlough River”, by James N Richardson, which was used as inspiration when designing the sculpture by artist Alan Burke for the mill pond. 

This opening verse sets the scene of the origins of Camlough river. The river that flows from Camlough lake, born of fire and ice, to be harnessed at Bessbrook pond to power the mill in Bessbrook, which in turn drove the local economy, forging communities and a social scene that survives to this day.

Key to this all is the flax plant. Without it, the river may have ran its course to the sea largely unmentioned. The production, processing and eventual weaving of the fibre from this plant is why the river rose to fame. The geography of the area, the quality of the water and the ability to grow flax locally, conspired to grow the linen industry in the locality of Bessbrook".