Josephine McDonnell, back row, second left, instigator of the petition, and fellow Bruree residents
STREET works in the picturesque village of Bruree have hit a bump in the road.
Over 250 have put pen to paper on a petition started by local resident Josephine McDonnell. The petition reads: “We, the residents of Bruree village and parish wish to object to the street works in our village; parking being taken away and lack of safety on the street.
The issue is at the Kilmallock side of the village. As you are heading in to Bruree a high concrete kerb has been installed by the council that narrows the road. A footpath will be built behind it. It runs parallel to the old bridge. It is in keeping with the council’s plans in other towns and villages to slow approaching traffic down. Kilmallock is one example.
However, the kerbs means the ample parking space on the wide thoroughfare is now gone. This was often used by lorry and bus drivers pulling over to rest and especially by Mass and funeral goers. A very popular place to park and turn was also in the vicinity to the entrance of the former railway house.
To coincide with the council’s works the owner of the railway house and warehouse, Austin Leahy, employed Richard O’Donoghue Construction to build a long railing outside the entrance to his property. This is located behind the kerb and the footpath, when completed. It stretches from and encloses the rockery on the railway bridge down to the village.
Ms McDonnell, who lives in one of the six houses across the road from the new railing, calls it an “eyesore”.
“People have asked me when did Bruree get a jail?” said Ms McDonnell. Mr O’Donoghue, who is a councillor in Adare-Rathkeale, heartily disagrees. He says he and Mr Leahy have worked with the council and the Tidy Towns “every step of the way”.
Ms McDonnell said: “We want the big high fence taken down and we want the kerbs brought in off the road. It is too dangerous. There is too much traffic on the road. There are tractors, harvesters, lorries and they are driving the traffic from the left hand side of the road, going towards O’Rourke’s Cross, across to the other side of the road, which is endangering people using the footpath. It is a very busy road. It is too narrow,” said Ms McDonnell. The six houses, one of which she lives in, were built very close to the road.
“We want to keep our parking. We are entitled to park outside our own doors but our cars are in great danger because the street is much narrower now,” said Ms McDonnell. While they do have parking at the rear of the houses most have children and these spaces have been turned into play areas. Ms McDonnell often leaves for work at 4am and she says she wouldn’t feel safe using the back of her house due to anti-social behaviour in Bruree.
“I could be mugged,” she said. Another bone of contention is that a kerb now blocks motorists from driving right in beside the bottle bank.
“A 76-year-old woman came the other day with boxes of glassware. She had to go away again because she couldn’t lift them in that distance. The whole thing is ridiculous,” said Ms McDonnell, who adds that an auctioneer told her that her house has reduced in value by between €4,000 and €7,000 in the last six weeks.
“It was a lovely village. At the moment it is turned upside down,” said Ms McDonnell, who got over 250 signatures in less than a week.
Cllr O’Donoghue said Mr Leahy is working with Bruree Tidy Towns to “make it a better and cleaner place”. He says he has a solution regarding the six homes across the road from the new railing.
“I agree they should be allowed park in front of their houses. There is a way of sorting this out. They have three metres of footpath in front of their houses. All the rest of the houses in Bruree have about a metre to a metre and a half. If the footpath is reduced to a metre and a half they will have ample space, their cars will be protected 100% and it will not interfere with the flow of traffic. I would help them get their spaces,” said Cllr O’Donoghue.
He says Mr Leahy owns all the area across the road from the six houses, including the railway bridge, and has the folios.
Cllr O’Donoghue said the council came to them with the kerb line and it was all agreed.
“Everything we have done from the start we have worked with the council. We have emailed them everything and everything was agreed. They asked us would we move the kerb in a metre and we said no problem. Part of the footpath is actually on his property and he said no problem.
“We put in a pedestrian gate for the Tidy Towns because they wanted to know could they still maintain the bridge. We said no problem. Mr Leahy brought a load of gravel from Cahill’s the other week with his tractor and trailer for the Tidy Towns. He is doing everything he can to improve Bruree,” said Mr O’Donoghue.
Mr Leahy is in the process of renovating the old railway house. An old warehouse that was burnt down years ago has already been restored.
“He could have put up a wall if he wanted to but he put up a railing because when the building is done he wants people to be able to see from the road and enjoy the old railway as it was,” said Mr O’Donoghue.
Regarding the space where people used to park for decades that is now behind the railings Mr O’Donoghue says workers have tried to go into Mr Leahy’s yards on numerous occasions but they couldn’t because there were cars and trucks parked there.
“There has also been a lot of anti-social behaviour there. People parking there with their lights on at all hours of the night. There was a garda chase and people jumped in over the gate – different things happening. We got a public light put up that is on his property,” said Mr O’Donoghue, whose solution to the lack of parking is a playground and car-park at the top of the village.