THE people of Ennis are being urged to have their say on what the newly-opened Inner Relief Road should be called.
At a recent meeting of Ennis Town Council, a number of potential names for the road were put forward by councillors after the suggestion of the place names committee was dismissed.
It was decided the matter would be finalised in January, with local people encouraged to make their views known on the new name.
The local authority undertook research on the site to help in the process of naming the road. This involved historical research and consultation with County Clare Placenames Committee.
The general consensus of the place names committee is that the name should reflect the history of the site and its existing boundary walls. This road runs through the site of the former Clare County Gaol between 1815 and 1920. It was the temporary home to many hundreds of people transported to Australia in the 19th century and became the home to many Ennis people after it ceased to function as a jail, until the local authority estates of St Michael’s Villas and Hermitage were built in the 1930s and 40s and the main blocks of the gaol demolished.
The view of the place names committee is that the name ‘Bridewell’ rather than ‘Gaol’ or ‘Jail’ would prove less offensive to nearby residents. The committee recommended that the road be called Old Bridewell Road – Bothar an Sean Ghéibhinn.
However, Councillor Tommy Brennan rejected this saying, “I don’t believe the Bridewell has any connection. The road is going right through the jail, it should be called Jail Road.”
Councillor Mary Howard suggested the road be named in recognition of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the twinning of Ennis with Phoenix.
Councillor Johnny Flynn stated that the road should be called after Braids.
“In 1937, Braids were set up and their contribution to the town would be well remembered and recorded,” he said. Councillor Michael Guilfoyle lent his support to Councillor Brennan’s suggestion, adding that the name ‘Old Jail Road’ would give it a more historic significance.
“We are an historic town and it is times like this that we get a chance to display our heritage,” he said. Councillor Paul O’Shea disagreed with naming the road after the jail saying it had “connotations of misery and suffering”, putting forward that the road should recognise the town’s connection to Muhammad Ali.
Councillor Frankie Neylon stated the road should recall its connection with Paddy Con’s ballroom, suggesting Bóthar na Rince.
“Paddy Con’s would be better known around the country than the jail or Braids. We need to get away from the jail, there’s enough depression about. The history is there but it’s a new road and we should remember something good that happened in the town. The dancehall is a place where people met, the history there is positive and the history of the jail is negative,” he said.
Mayor of Ennis Councillor Peter Considine agreed Paddy Con’s was an iconic building in the town. He urged the council members reach a consensus on the name rather than having to put it to a vote.
Councillor Brennan suggested the public could be asked for their say on the matter. It was agreed to discuss the naming of the road in the January meeting of the council and members of the public with ideas for the new name can contact the council.
Historical research of the site of the new road has found that the site of the County Gaol, constructed between 1815 and 1819, is on Station Road. It was considered a masterpiece in its day being built on a radiating principle: a heptagon-shaped cell block arrangement radiating out from a central administration building.
Additions to the County Jail in 1841 were noted by the county surveyor to the Grand Jury to “afford ample space for classification and discipline”.
A six-bay, two-storey former dance hall, Paddy Con’s New Hall Ballroom opened in 1950; it is an intact example of a 1950 ballroom of romance.