VISITORS and locals alike have been throwing coins into the fountain in the world famous Rose Garden at Kilkenny Castle for many, many years and hoping their wishes will come true. The legend has grown that if you throw in a euro or less into the water you will have great luck.
Some members of the workforce at the Castle emptied the fountain of coinage at regular intervals through out the year when the fountain itself had to be closed for maintenance purposes.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) which operates the Castle on behalf of the people of Kilkenny admitted that until recently it had no knowledge of this and had, until now, no idea what happened the coins discarded by tourists and residents.
In a statement to the Kilkenny People, it said that this had been done without the knowledge of the management at Castle. After looking in to the matter , the OPW said that the coins left in the fountain by the general public had been collected by some of the staff at the Castle with no formal arrangement in place for their usage.
“The management at the Castle have put a stop to this practice and formal arrangements are now in place to have the coins collected and donated to a local registered charity,” Neil Ryan, spokesman for the Castle, said. Management had no idea where the money collected from the fountain until now went and did not address the matter in a short statement issued.
It is understood that when the fountain is cleaned out it normally has between €200 and €300 in it. Because there was no receipt supplied by those who collected the coins to show the money was going to a local charity, it is uncertain where the money went.
The money may have been put straight into the collection boxes of local churches. And there is no hint of impropriety on behalf of staff because there was no breach of any rules or regulations.
Indeed, at the famous Trevi Fountain located in the heart of Rome a man, in 1992, who collected coins at the fountain every day was brought to court by the municipal police but the action was struck out after the judge ruled that since the coins had been intentionally discarded by tourists at the fountain, there was no crime because you could not take something which did not belong to anyone.
St Vincent de Paul in Kilkenny has expressed an interest in getting involved with the Castle authorities in collecting the coins. Area president, Liam Heffernan said it would be a great addition to the coffers of the society - “We would never turn down funding and would love to get involved with the Castle if they wish.”