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O'Connell Street, Ennis, one of the sites praised in the latest IBAL litter league survey Photograph by John Kelly.

O’Connell Street makeover set to commence next year

THE regeneration of Ennis’ main thoroughfare is set to begin next year, a meeting of the Ennis Municipal District has heard.
Members of the municipal district have given their backing for the proposed public realm works on O’Connell Street, with the part 8 plans to go before a full meeting of Clare County Council for approval next week.
At the monthly meeting Ennis councillors voiced their support for the project, while a call was also made for the retention of decorative poles for hanging baskets along the street as well as the salvaging of existing paving stones to be used elsewhere in the town.
The works to O’Connell Street are Project B3 in the second phase of the overall Ennis Town Centre Public, and are a continuation of Project B1, O’Connell Square, High Street and Bank Place, and Project B2, Old Barrack Street and Barrack Square.
Leonore O’Neill, senior executive officer, told the monthly meeting of Ennis councillors that the works are anticipated to begin in the third or fourth quarter of 2022, with an estimated time frame of 18 months for construction.
The project includes the upgrading of the public realm of O’Connell Street with one way traffic flow retained and the creation of a new civic space outside Ennis Cathedral.
According to the Part 8 Design Report, “Given the importance of O’Connell Street as the main thoroughfare within the historic town centre, the intention of the public realm regeneration project is to deliver a balance between the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles while retaining the heritage character and supporting commercial activity.
“The result will be a safer and more attractive pedestrian environment and spaces for all sectors of the community, facilitating the Town Centre as a destination for visitors, improving its vitality and enabling Ennis to capitalise on its unique assets.
“Funding secured for Projects B3 will allow for further design development of the public realm proposals aimed at making O’Connell Street more pedestrian friendly while accommodating essential access and servicing requirements.”
Welcoming the plans at the council meeting Councillor Johnny Flynn described it as a “very important project”.
However he voiced “some concerns” about the potential loss of the decorative poles on the street.
He also pointed out that the existing paving and kerbs is “high quality” and urged “we should look at salvaging as much as possible”.
Councillor Flynn also sought that “soft, warm” lighting be used in keeping with the historic nature of the area.
The councillor stated it is “fantastic to see the investment” in the project and he acknowledged the work of the council executive.
Councillor Mark Nestor commented that he “cannot wait for it to come to fruition”.
Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy asked if the funding was in place for the project, with Ms O’Neill replying that 75% of the cost is funded through the Urban Regeneration Development Fund and 25% by Clare County Council.
Councillor Pat Daly also backed the plans saying it has been “great to see” the upgrade of Parnell Street.
He added he would like to see derelict buildings on Parnell Street refurbished saying “the potential for Parnell Street is enormous”.
Councillor Mary Howard also praised the plans and paid credit to all involved in bringing them to fruition.
She questioned if hanging baskets are to be included in the plans, saying the town benefits from a “blaze of begonias which are so picture perfect every summer”.
Mayor of Ennis, Councillor Ann Norton stated that the public realm project will be “a huge addition to Ennis”.
She said this project is proof of what can be achieved by elected members working with the council.
“At the end of our five-year term we will have something very exciting to showcase, something to be very, very proud of. As a group we are determined to make our town a better place.”
Answering the concerns of Councillor Flynn Ms O’Neill stated the decorative poles are an issue which would need to be revisited as part of the detailed design of the project.
The possible salvaging of material can be looked at as part of the construction management plan.
She continued that when it comes to LED lighting the council has to be cognisant of environmental considerations and the requirements of lighting pedestrian areas of a town centre.
She said that any lighting will conform to the relative standards. Regarding the hanging baskets mentioned by Councillor Howard, she said they can be looked at in consultation with business owners.
There will be extensive public consultation during all phases of the scheme, she added.

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