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A quiet Parnell street in Ennis as the public heed warnings on public safety ahead of storm Ophelia. Photograph by John Kelly.

Plans afoot to close Ennis streets for outdoor evening dining

PLANS are underway to transform parts of Ennis town centre to allow evening outdoor dining, with hopes that it will lead to increased footfall and an economic boost to local businesses.
An application is being made by the local authority for up to €200,000 in funding from the Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme announced by Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin TD and Fáilte Ireland.
Ahead of a decision on the grant submission, the Ennis Municipal District has also announced plans to close roads to facilitate outdoor dining during the evening times. The roads set to be closed are Parnell Street, from Carmody Street to Woodquay Junction. Also Frances Street from the junction of Friary car park to Abbey Street, with access to the Friary car park to remain open. It is proposed that the streets will be closed from 6.30pm to 11.30pm, every night for June, July and August.
Closures are further planned from 6.30pm to 11.30pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights for September and October. The proposal is currently undergoing a public consultation process.
If given the green light, diversions will be in place on Parnell Street via Summerhill, Cabey’s Lane, Parnell Street car park, Woodquay car park.
On Frances Street, there will be a turn left at Causeway Link, to Friars Walk, Clonroad, Tulla Road, New Road, Newbridge Road, Club Bridge and Abbey Street. The council is hopeful that some form of outdoor dining can be in place by early June in line with the planned reopening of outdoor hospitality in early June.
Details of the plans were revealed at a meeting of the Ennis Municipal District in response to a query by Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy.
Leonore O’Neill, senior executive officer outlined that two grants have been announced for the operation of outdoor dining.
Individual businesses can apply for a grant of up to €4,000, details of which have been advertised. There is also the grant process open to applications from local authorities.
The scheme is open for applications from Wednesday of this week, with Ms O’Neill stating, “It would be our intent to lodge an application for that grant.”
She said that based on requests from businesses and the business community interested in going into outdoor dining road closures have been advertised.
“We are working with the business community to see what we can facilitate and where we can assist to put together a comprehensive application for that grant.” Councillor Colleran Molloy sought a time-line “assuming we’re successful” with Ms O’Neill replying that some elements can be advance immediately while others will take more time.
“The road closure application is one of the key things in facilitating this. We have to review any submissions or objections, but technically those road closures could be in place by the end of May.
“There would be other elements regarding the purchase of equipment and installation of lighting that we will be proposing and if deemed successful we could commence works immediately on those elements.
“We await notification on whether we have been successful in the funding application in the first instance.
“ We would hope, not withstanding the funding application, that we can hopefully facilitate through road closures and businesses availing of the business grant scheme some form of outdoor dining in the designated areas in line with the reopening of those sectors in early June.”
Councillor Johnny Flynn welcomed the move, saying that town and city centres have been “decimated”.
“How do you get footfall back in? The first quick win is outdoor dining and getting people in and enjoying the streets again and hopefully retail will then pick up around that.”
He pointed to Kerry, where evening dining has encouraged shops to stay open later to capture the footfall.
“Retail will change, if we have outdoor dining after six in the evening in certain points of the town, shops should try and stay open to try and match those times.”

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