FEELING trapped in your own home due to a freak weather event sounds like something you would see on the news from abroad but it is happening in County Limerick.
On a July afternoon an isolated thunderstorm over Doon resulted in rainfall rates greater than 50mm per hour causing untold damage.
The county bridge at Gortnageragh was not passable until reparatory work was completed. All damaged bridges are now passable after works costing in the region of €1.2m/€1.3m was carried out.
The affect of the closure had a huge impact on local residents, including Grainne Hurley, from Croughmorka, Doon.
“When this occurred back in July, I was heavily pregnant and working in Shannon. This added to my commute every day having to take back roads to bypass Doon.
“Since I have been on maternity leave, I couldn’t feel more trapped in my own home with no access to my local village, doctor, public health nurse etc.
“Other routes are extremely treacherous especially in icy conditions which we are experiencing due to these routes being high up in the hills, not to mention being extremely narrow, windy and with steep drops and only suitable for one car to travel on at a time – not suitable to be driving on with a newborn in tow,” said Ms Hurley.
With the recent snow and ice she said they “couldn’t even get up the hill towards that road”.
“That’s why it was so disappointing that the work didn’t start until November,” said Ms Hurley.
If the repairs had not been completed she says she wouldn’t have been able to return to work.
Ms Hurley complained to the council about the length of the time it took to commence the repairs.
“I understand that financially this is a massive undertaking. That said, the potential of this destruction was reported to Limerick County Council numerous times over four years ago.
“So, had preventative work been done then to maintain the bridge, we would not have suffered as we have. You have put people in danger by leaving work until the bridge fell down,” said Ms Hurley.
When she moved to the area two and a half years ago she was told “the county bridge could fall down at any stage”.
“Preventative work is more efficient, safer and less costly to the tax payer and the community at large,” said Ms Hurley, who was also angered by the fact that she was not communicated with by any member of the council.
“Even though your workforce and heavy trucks have been using our laneway to gain access to the bridge without seeking our permission,” said Ms Hurley. Others in the locality were contacted through mail drops and phone calls.
The council said in November: “We wanted to get the work done as quickly as possible. We moved our own crews in there and they did terrific work in stabilisation so that people would have access to their homes and farms even though there were diversions in place.
“This was just something that can occur any place at any time. We have seen throughout the country when you have that intensity of rainfall it causes absolute devastation on these sharp catchments.”
They applied for funding from the Department of Transport and proceeded with the works.