LAHINCH’s “identity crisis” could be solved in two years with increasing calls for a referendum to determine its correct spelling.

In 2012, the name of Lahinch on road signs was changed to Lehinch, the coastal spot has been known as Lahinch since the 1850s.

Funds were due to be set aside in 2018 for a plebiscite to be held, this is the direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question such as a change in the constitution. This local vote never took place. The issue was brought before the Physical Development Strategic Policy Committee of Clare County Council that year but no progress was made.

For the 2024 local election, an extra ballot paper may yet be appearing in North-West Clare where constituents will be asked to give their say on what spelling should be prescribed for the coastal location.

Director of Services with the Council, Leonard Cleary previously explained, “The last time it was discussed, it was suggested that there be a pilot. A plebiscite is a vote in specific townland, often it can happen at time of local election with an extra ballot paper, there is a very prescribed way for how it is done”.

Local hotelier, Michael Vaughan quipped the appearance of Lehinch on road signs represents an “identity crisis” for the area. He recounted claims that it would cost in excess of €10,000 to change the spelling to Lahinch on official signs. “We all want it to be spelt the way it was,” Vaughan commented.

‘Vigilantes’ have over the past decade taken matters into their own hands by adding an ‘A’ instead of the ‘E’ on signs so that the Lehinch is replaced by Lahinch.

Reports are circulating locally that the matter will be solved once and for all when the public go to the polls for the 2024 local elections.

However, a spokesperson for Clare County Council told The Clare Echo no definite actions have been agreed, “No decision has been taken to date on the holding of a plebiscite, which requires the approval of the elected members of the Council”.

Cllr Liam Grant (GP) has consistently raised the matter since he was co-opted to the Council in place of Senator Roisin Garvey (GP). “These are tourist towns, and the names form a very strong part of the brand. We had thousands of visitors attending the Irish Open at Lahinch Golf Club greeted by road signs reading ‘Lehinch’. It’s confusing and damaging for the town,” he stated.

Clonlara, Carron, Corofin, Kildysart, Miltown Malbay and Ennistymon are among the other locations in the county where the spelling on road signs differs to what is perceived to be the correct version by residents of the particular area.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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