A PLANNED town it may be but Shannon has never had a proper centre and this week’s meeting of the local municipal district council heard several calls for change.
There were also calls for those who had been involved in the Venue project (a proposed civic and arts centre for Shannon) to keep going, despite some recent setbacks.
Sinn Féin Councillor Mike McKee put forward a motion that the local county councillors meet with senior officials from the county council’s planning department and other interested parties to agree a strategy for developing a streetscape.
At the meeting, he said he had read one very critical comment from a visitor to Clare’s second- largest town. “The first thing you notice about Shannon is that there really isn’t much to the town,” he quoted. “That struck me; I didn’t like to read that,” he added.
As a youngster in the North, he said that removal men came to his family’s home to take their furniture to Shannon. When he spoke to them about the town he was moving to, they told him it consisted of “housing estates, housing estates, housing estates”.
Things haven’t changed much, he said. “Today, 40 years on, it’s still housing estates, housing estates, housing estates.”
He said that the series of units at Brú na Sionna is the closest thing Shannon has to a street and that when it was being developed was a chance to develop a proper street, or series of streets.
Saying he had recently watched a documentary on Martin Luther King, he said he had a dream for Shannon, that the town would finally “have a core heart to it” which wouldn’t close down at 8pm each night.
Councillor Gerry Flynn said that he had been involved with three plans for Shannon and still what Councillor McKee spoke of had not been delivered.“As good as Shannon Development were on the industrial side, they failed miserably in creating a town to be proud of,” he claimed.
He said that those involved in the Venue project should not “throw the toys out of the pram” after a recent funding application got a B, rather than an A rating. Councillor Flynn praised the work done by Liam Conneally and other council staff in helping with the funding application referred to.
Councillor John Crowe said it is “absolutely ludicrous” that a town with an airport, industrial estate and many housing estates doesn’t have a street.
Director of Service Liam Conneally said that the reasons why the Venue had got the B rating, rather than an A one are currently “sparse and unclear”.
He said that he still feels that progress can be made with “an enormous effort” from various stakeholders.
While there was much said about the Venue, Councillor McKee concluded by saying that what is more important is the development of a local street.