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A general view of the Market building in Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly

Business people want new purpose for Ennis market building

THE future of the Ennis market building, built at substantial cost for little return, was discussed at last week’s meeting of local councillors, and business people in the Market area are appealing that it not be forgotten about.

Michael McGrath of Safeway Tyres said that the building, which was designed to accommodate market traders, isn’t cutting it as a car park. “It’s not fit for purpose. Even as a car park there’s too little space, if it was going to be a car park it should have been a few storeys high. Also it’s too tight, there isn’t a day that goes by that there isn’t an accident, that someone hits off someone else because the spaces are so tight. The colour of the walls-white-from a design point of view it might be beautiful, but if you’re reversing back into a space its next to impossible to judge. Just look at the walls and you’ll see how much damage has been done.”

He said that street drinkers had used it for shelter when the weather was bad, and had turned off motorists.”While they didn’t mean to intimidate anyone who wants to park there, if there are five or six of them thrown back drinking flagons of cider or whatever, and they say ‘ah you’ll be grand there’, what happens is the person sits back into their car and drives away again. They don’t mean anything by it, but that’s how it comes across.”

Warnings that it would not work for market traders weren’t heeded, he said. “The farmer’s market, the people there said it wouldn’t work, and guess what, it didn’t work. They moved out to Roslevan. The Council wouldn’t listen, they had a vision for what they wanted, they wanted to recreate Europe in Ennis.”

He felt an opportunity to develop a major market trading area was missed in a nearby location. “My gut feeling is it’s in the wrong place. The ideal place would have been the car park behind Paddy Quinns, where there’s an enclosed courtyard. When what was Moran’s shop was up for sale, if the Council had bought that and had units from O’Connell Street through into the area at the back, they could have promoted it that way. You had access from High Street, the Market, through the Community Centre. If you had some ingenious roofing system, the place would have been iconic, people would have come to see it.”

However, despite mistakes that have been made, there is a need to work with what is in place now, and make the best of it, he believes. “It’s done, it’s built, so what can we do to get on with the story and make it work for everybody. Someone needs to be put in charge of it, that can say, okay, this is my project and I’ll try and adapt it so that it’s something other than just a car park.”

Publican Pat Taylor agrees that more needs to be made of the building, even though the initial plans have fallen through.”What frustrates me is when I look out the window and I see the sign saying market on Friday and Saturday, but there’s nothing. I think it’s a building that’s wasted in its current format. When it was built we were looking forward to seeing the market back on the weekends, and it just hasn’t happened. I was at a few events over there during the Fleadh, and I saw what TG4 did with the building. It’s a building that could be used for more than what it is being used for.”

He would not like it to just be accepted that the building continue being used as it has been for some years now. “My only fear is that it will be forgotten about and just stay as a car park.”

Owen Ryan

About Owen Ryan

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Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.