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Deborah Bent, secretary Scariff Community Council, Michael Waterstone, chairman Scariff Community Council, and Niamh Wiley, Scariff Tidy Towns, discussing plans for the further development of Riverside Community Park in Scariff. Photograph by John Kelly

Heritage and amenity works celebrated in Scariff


EFFORTS to conserve and enhance amenities in Scariff are stepping up a gear as we enter 2022. 

Intensive work on the ground is paying major dividends as the community also celebrates the recent allocation of funding for regeneration of the heart of the town. 

Added to this boost is news of the completion of a project funded by the National Heritage Council and focusing on the Workhouse Water Tower, which dates to the mid-1800s.

Last May, Scariff Community Council was awarded funding to prepare a Conservation/Condition Report on the historic structure. The report has now been created by P Coleman & Associates and the Community Council are preparing to share the findings on their website and social channels.

This conservation report now forms a vital record and assessment of the building and will be an essential tool in planning and carrying out any future works proposed to the structure and site. The report will also inform future funding applications to help conserve the building into the future.

The six-storey Water Tower was built in 1851, around a decade after the construction of the Scariff Workhouse. The notorious workhouse, which at one point had more than 3,200 people living in it, served an area known as Scariff Workhouse Union during the famine. It covered an area of 170 square miles with a population of 47,894, and included Scariff, Ogonnelloe, Killaloe, Bodyke, Tulla, Feakle, Whitegate, Mountshannon and Woodford.

Today the Water Tower stands majestically as an early industrial functioning building, located at the bank of the Scariff River. Local people regard it is a poignant memory to all those who lost their lives during the famine.

Copies of the condition report are available in the Community Tourist Office in Scariff, as well as at Scariff Library. It will also be available to download from Scariff Community Council Facebook page and the website Scariff.ie

The imposing structure is visible from the recently upgraded Riverside Community Park in the town. In the summer of 2020, Scariff Community Council was successful in securing funding to upgrade the 1km looped walk, which is a hugely popular amenity.

The development of the paths has been part-funded under the LEADER programme, through the National Development Plan and by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, together with the Department of Rural and Community Development and Clare County Council under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme 2020.

The generous financial donations of the community, together with local businesses have contributed hugely to the development of the paths.  

The Community Park, at Fossa Beg on the Feakle Road, was developed by the Community Council in 2005, and consists of a playground, six outdoor adult exercise stations, and one station which is dedicated to wheelchair users.

The looped walk through an area of natural biodiversity, has always been a very popular amenity. Working in phases, the Community Council installed an information board highlighting local flora and fauna and containing information on the historic Scariff Workhouse Water Tower. 

Recent works have involved the improvement of paths and the laying of tarmac and concrete on surfaces which had previously been covered in gravel and prone to flooding. Under the upgrade plans, paths around the loop were also widened to allow full wheelchair access, as well as social distancing. Lighting along the walk was also installed. 

This project has been extremely successful to-date and the development of the paths now enables people of all ages and abilities to make use of this beautiful outdoor space.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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