CLARE County Council and Waterways Ireland have been urged to pool their resources to source an anti-slip mat following reports of an “extraordinary” number of falls at a popular east Clare bathing spot, writes Dan Danaher.
It has been proposed that the mat, which would cost around €3,000 would help prevent swimmers getting injured on the slipway at Two Mile Gate, located between Ogonnelloe and Killaloe.
Killaloe community members, Dr Alison Bonham and Pam Teese, have launched an online petition to expedite a solution to a series of accidents on the slipway.
In a statement issued to the Clare Champion, Ms Teese outlined she is a regular swimmer at Ballycuggeran, where she belongs to a very active WhatsApp social swimming group.
Having personally witnessed first-hand many concerning accidents on the slipway, she joined fellow group member, Dr Alison Bonham – herself a victim of concussion resulting from her own recent slip there – in launching an online petition to push the issue.
The petition has attracted almost 500 signatures and they have now engaged with Clare County Council on urgently and permanently resolving the issue of the established slip hazard.
The on-going accumulation of slimy algae on the submerged bare concrete surface is blamed for the accidents.
“Occasional power cleaning has been temporarily successful for a few days at a time but, as the algae takes hold very rapidly, this isn’t a viable long-term solution,” say the petition organisers.
“We have brought the council’s attention to more appropriate options, and secured a very affordable quote for durable marine-grade, anti-slip, algae-resistant and virtually maintenance-free surfacing matting suitable for long-term submerged installation.
“Potentially suitable materials can be sourced and delivered for less than €3,000. Meanwhile, temporary rubberised matting, costing only €20, loosely laid over a submerged trial area of the slipway on August 20 has proven very effective so far in eliminating the slip hazard across the area where it is laid, and this effectiveness has been demonstrated on site to the relevant authority.”
Ms Teese outlined providing the right choice of correctly-installed finish will alert people to a change in surface whilst permanently eliminating a slip-hazard.
It will also potentially provide better impact-absorption than the existing bare concrete that is there in the unlikely event of a fall.
She stressed the modest costs of improvements aren’t prohibitive, and would undoubtedly save further injury or worse.
“At this stage we understand that the council is taking the issue seriously and will act with appropriate urgency,” she added.
The online petition highlighted what it called an extraordinary number of accidents at the slipway access to the lake at Two Mile Gate over recent months as a result of the slippery, algae-covered concrete surface, where growth is prolific and unrelenting.
It stated one person had to be taken to an Emergency Department as a result of a moderate concussion and deep head wound that required three staples.
“A long list of both adults and children have reported significant direct head-bangs to the concrete and significant bodily bruising, cuts, and abrasions as a direct result of slipping at this lethally dangerous and hazardous launching and entry point to the lake.
The organisers asked, “Please sign this petition, which will be sent to Clare County councillors Tony O’Brien and Alan O’Callaghan, and Waterways Ireland, to ensure they take immediate and urgent action by securing GRP anti-slip marine mesh grating to the slipway for the immediate and long term safety of both our community members and visitors.”
Responding, Clare County Council said its Municipal District Office in Scarriff had two reports of incidents in July and another in August about the slipway at Ballycuggeran.
Killaloe Municipal District followed up these reports by powerhosing the slipway on July 21 and August 21st, 2021.
Powerhosing was carried out to remove any algae build up on the slipway. The presence and growth of algae on a non-tidal freshwater pier is a frequent issue at lake slipways around the county and beyond and in this regard there exists signage at this pier stating same.
“The slipway at Ballycuggeran is primarily intended to provide an area for the launching of boats and motorised craft and is not the designated swimming entry point for the amenity,” a council spokesperson explained.
“Clare County Council has programmed another powerhose of the slipway on September 14, 2021, and will look at alternative options into the future to improve the safety at the slipway,” the spokesman added.
This petition can be accessed here