FOUR houses and business premises could be knocked in the latest attempt to address Blake’s Corner in Ennistymon, one of the county’s worst bottlenecks.
One couple, due to move into their first family home this week, has organised a meeting seeking public support in what they predict will be a major battle with Clare County Council and the National Roads Authority.
Sheena Clancy, her husband, John and their four-year-old son, Jamie, are “devastated” after finding out they could lose the house they have spent the past seven months renovating and which they plan to move into this Friday. Sheena rented the property at Bridge Street for three years before the couple bought the building at auction last May, to renovate as their family home.
Now, the family has discovered that the building is likely to be the subject of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) because it is in the path of a proposed new road.
Sheena and John were paying for their new kitchen when a neighbour phoned them on Monday to tell them the news.
“Two people came to my mother’s door, one was from the council and one was from an estate agent,” explained neighbour, Triona O’Connor.
“As far as I know, they just said that there would be a new bridge and the property would be affected and that it would be CPOed. My brother came up. They mentioned that they were looking for Sheena. The two people showed them a map and it showed the new road going through their property. They were shocked. The property has been in the family for generations. My brother is in the process of renovating the house and he was told to keep receipts,” she outlined.
Triona then rang Sheena. “When Triona rang, I cancelled the call and texted her instead, saying ‘just finalising our kitchen’,” Sheena recalled.
“She got back to me and said ‘nobody is dead or anything’ but she said ‘are you sitting down and is John with you?’.
“Triona told us that two people had come out, she thought at first they were from the council, and they told her that there was a plan that had been approved by the councillors at a meeting that afternoon. They had a map, which they showed and they said they would be acquiring these properties under CPO,” Sheena continued.
“Nobody from the council has picked up the phone and spoken to us at all, can you believe that?
“All of our furniture is here. Our kitchen was delivered on Wednesday, our tiles were delivered on Tuesday and they are being fitted on Thursday. Everything is here, except our bed. Friday, we are out of our rented house. We gave notice before Christmas. We have nowhere to go,” she explained.
Sheena began renting the premises, which incidentally is the same age as the Blake’s and Linnane’s buildings, for her business, West Clare Flowers.
“When I took over this building originally, it was derelict. There were broken windows, there was no floor but we took it on three and a half years ago,” she said.
“I’m in favour of preserving Ennistymon’s past. But what about Ennistymon’s future?” she asked.
“The cheaper option, the more sensible option, the one with the least disruption to existing homes and businesses, is to move back Blake’s Corner. It is what the people of the town want. No one wants the situation the way it is but moving three families out of their homes and closing two businesses and knocking the buildings to the ground, it makes no sense,” Sheena stated.
Judith O’Donoghue (77), who lives across the river on New Road, agrees. “For the sake of two empty houses it is a bit much,” she said.
Judith and her husband, Peter, returned to Clare and bought their home on New Road 25 years ago.
“We lived in London for years and this is our retirement home. Unfortunately, my husband got a heart attack in 2002 and got a stroke in 2004, so that kind of altered the situation a bit. We had to adjust the place accordingly. We have it just as we want it now, actually. This is the thing. We could enjoy it now,” she said.
Both Judith and Peter have limited mobility and having an accessible home within easy reach of amenities is vital to them.
“I have a scooter for most things. I can just about get from the house to the car and that is it,” she explained.
Judith told The Clare Champion that she and Peter are shocked by what has happened.
“Two men came here on Monday night to tell me. They didn’t tell me about the meeting; it was afterwards I heard about that. They arrived at about 5pm. It was dark. They introduced themselves, saying they were doing work for Clare County Council. They came in and sat down and started to explain about Blake’s Corner. We have all been hearing about Blake’s Corner for years and, to tell you the truth, I didn’t take a lot of notice to start off with, you know, because there have been so many different suggestions over the years.
“Anyway, eventually, when I heard about the traffic lights outside our car park and that they were going putting this through our car park, that surprised me and then, by degrees, I started to realise how serious it was,” she recalled.
“They showed me the map and there was a corner shaded that they were going to need for the road. Then I figured out for myself that there would be more than that going and I said was it eventually going to amount to a Compulsory Purchase Order and they said it probably would,” she continued.
“It was such a shock. It was the last thing I expected. I thought Blake’s Corner was Blake’s Corner and it didn’t dawn on me that it would come this close,” she added.
According to Judith, the content of the meeting on Monday did not hit her until Tuesday. “To tell you the truth, it didn’t really sink in until the next morning. You think to yourself ‘what is the alternative?’ I wouldn’t know where to start.
“We are 77 years old, the two of us, and we don’t want to start looking for a place to live at this hour of our lives. I don’t know what we are going to do. We have the house the way we want it and the car park as we want it and we just don’t want to go,” Judith said.