OVERFLOW parking may have to be provided at one of East Clare’s premier tourist attractions due to the boost in visitor numbers in recent years.
The increase in popularity of the Two Mile Gate Lakeside Amenity Park, which includes a state-of-the-art aqua park and a Blue Flag bathing area, was widely welcomed at the recent meeting of the Killaloe Municipal District Committee.
With Ballycuggeran Woods on the other side of the main road from Killaloe to Scariff, some concerns were raised about parked vehicles obstructing the route. The matter was raised by Councillors Joe Cooney and Pat Burke, who were told that the Council is exploring options to facilitate visitor demand.
“Fantastic work has been done around Two Mile Gate,” Councillor Cooney said. “Lots of people stayed local during Covid and have found out about it. The problem now is parking in the area.
The place has been chock-a-block in recent days. That’s fantastic to see, but we need to explore options for parking when needed on certain occasions. Even if we had to deal with a local landowner, if a field was required from time to time. This is a fantastic facility and it’s being well looked after by Clare County Council. It’s great to see the reduction in the speed limit and to hear that more safety measures will be put in place.”
The motion was seconded by Councillor Tony O’Brien and echoed by Councillor Burke who also called for increased parking. He noted that, on one particular Sunday, there were record crowds visiting the amenities. “An agri contractor tried to get through and it was a tight squeeze,” he said.
“Warm weather brings them all out. If road could be widened, it might be a cheaper option. There is a wide grass margin on part of it. A hard shoulder could be put in as a temporary measure.
Recently, on a Tuesday at 3pm, the carpark was full. Sunshine brings its problems, there’s no doubt about that. It’s not every day that parking is needed, but if you could look at a hard shoulder, that might help.”
Councillor O’Brien noted that the issue is worst during fine weather. “Extra parking is not needed all year round,” he said.
“Gardaí have a role to play here. If there’s a road safety issue, they should be notified. It can be uncomfortable for everyone trying to use the area. If there isn’t enough room on the road, there isn’t enough room to enjoy the facility. We have to get that message out.”
Councillor Pat Hayes added his supports to both motions. “It is not sustainable at Ballycuggeran in terms of parking on side of the road,” he said.
“We might need to revisit the plan. The last thing we want is to make things uncomfortable. This is a fantastic facility and it’s great that people are staying local and not going to Kilkee.”
Killaloe Municipal District Cathaoirleach, Councillor Alan O’Callaghan encouraged officials to talk to local landowners. “I noticed this over at Whitestrand,” he said.
“There is an opportunity here when a landowner can open his gate and get his few bob by providing a facility. it works ideal. We could spend a couple of hundred thousand on carpark that might not be used very often. This is only needed 60 out of 365 days of the year.”
Senior Executive Officer (SEO) Morgan Lahiffe said officials in the district had spend a lot of time discussing the issue. “We have introduced extra portaloes and applied to the Department to improve access,” he said.
“All options are on the table subject to all the planning regulations. We can’t simply open a gate. We need to weigh up the cost benefit. Is it worth our while spending x amount of money on an overflow? We are analysing the numbers at Ballycuggeran on a daily basis and will get report at the end of the summer.”
Mr Lahiffe said he had spoken twice to Gardaí in Killaoe on traffic safety and behavioural aspects and had been given an assurance that officers would have a presence there.
A written response to the two motions noted that Two Mile Gate “is a key part of the tourism offering into the future”.
It outlined that a traffic calming plan has been drawn up in the hope of securing funding in the next 12 months. The reply also said that the speed limit has been reduced to 50kmph.
“We are assessing our land holdings in the area to ascertain if we can provide an overflow car park into the future,” it added. “Clare County Council will brief the members when this piece of feasibility work is complete.”