IN a sign of things to come efforts are being made to upgrade a popular Ennis initiative which has been helping to bring history to life for more than a decade.
The Ennis Historic Town Signage was introduced back in 2009 and has proven to be a welcome addition to the town for both tourists and local people alike.
However, condensation issues, stickers and graffiti are affecting the posters encased within the signs and calls are now being made for an update, with QR codes for use with mobile phones among the suggestions being made.
The condition of the signs was raised at a meeting of the Ennis Municipal District by Councillor Mary Howard.
“These signs have been a great addition to the town since they were introduced back in 2009. However I believe they now need some refurbishment as most displays have condensation issues, this is affecting the integrity of the information posters within the frames.”
She asked was there a pamphlet with the information contained on the signs available for local history fans along with schools. Councillor Howard also asked who maintains the signs and if there is a stock available of the posters.
Tommy Scott, Senior Executive Technician, responded, “The “Historic Town Trails was a Fáilte Ireland designed and supported initiative in 2007/2008. There are four trails with: 53 ornate sign poles, 125 cast finger directional signs, 19 cast wall plaques, 32 display case support frames, 42 glazed display cases in two sizes and 42 bilingual printed information panels in two sizes.
“There is no pamphlet with this information available. I can advise that the signs are the property and responsibility of Clare County Council. A complete survey of the infrastructure can be undertaken to ascertain the extent of the repairs, refurbishment and replacements required. However, a source of funding will need to be identified.”
Councillor Howard recalled how author and historian Sean Spellissy had worked with the then Ennis Town Council on the initiative.
The frames are not air tight causing condensation which means some of the information on the posters can no longer be read, she outlined.
The trail begins at the Temple Gate Hotel and winds throughout the town. She said that as well as condensation, stickers have been put on some of the signs and graffiti.
“There is such a huge amount of information on these signs, we need to nip this in the bud,” she said.
She suggested that a pamphlet containing the information should be included on the Ennis Municipal District and Clare County Council websites as well as the introduction of QR codes so people can access the historic information easier.
“These signs badly need TLC, they need to be stripped down and repainted and QR codes included.”
She asked, “If somebody crashed into the sign and they got destroyed where is the information stored?”
Backing the motion, Councillor Johnny Flynn recalled the “fantastic work” that had been undertaken to bring the project to fruition while stressing the importance of renewing the signs and bringing then up to date.
He suggested that the QR codes could be used to bring people to a video or audio recording so those who are visually impaired can access the information.
“These signs are a fantastic asset to the town,” he said. He stated that the Ennis Municipal District should approach Clare County Council’s Rural, Community and Tourism Development sector for funding. He also praised Sean Spellissy for his work on the project.
Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy also voiced her support saying that the signs “look like they need care so they are attractive. They need a clean up and modernisation.”
She agreed that the QR codes would “bring them to life” and supporting seeking funding from the council’s tourism development section. She also suggested that the Ennis Municipal District’s General Municipal Allocation funding could be a source of funding. “We don’t want to see obsolete signage,” she said.
Councillor Pat Daly stated, “The historic signs are vital for Ennis which is a 13th century town and they should be upgraded.”
He also acknowledged Mr Spellissy’s work in gathering together the historical information. Councillor Daly stated that the tourism section should fund the project, adding that support should also be sought from Fáilte Ireland.
Councillor Howard thanked her council colleagues for their support.
“The infrastructure is there and they badly need a refurbishment,” she said.
She recalled that an audio recording was taken when the signs were being prepared which could if they were available be used in conjunction with the QR codes. She asked that the council cost the refurbishment works, saying she is hopeful that works can be undertaken in time for the tourist season.