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Value for money must be evident if Clare County Council are to purchase the Rocky Road, a senior officer with the local authority has said.

A fresh appeal for the local authority to review the feasibility of purchasing the amenity site was issued by Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) “in light of the renewed prioritisation of greenway amenities exemplified in current Government policy”.

Cold water was poured on the request by senior executive officer, Leonore O’Neill. She recalled that the last engagement between the Council and the landowner “the asking price on the property for sale at the Rocky Road exceeded the value of it as an amenity area”. She detailed that “significant investments” on amenity projects such as Gaurus, Ballyalla and lands at Kildysart Rd are in need of funding, “therefore future proposals for land acquisitions must take the existing pipeline of proposals into consideration”.

Benefits of being outdoors strengthen the call to acquire the amenity, Colleran Molloy felt. “We talk a great deal about the importance of outdoor activity, please God we will be out of this pandemic soon with a renewed appreciation for the outdoors. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for people to walk from town into Ballybeg Woods through the Rocky Rd or maybe in time cycle”. She said the asking price “is not huge” and committed to continuing to raise the matter.

Recollections of going to the Rocky Road on picnics during her days in the Holy Family were shared by Cllr Mary Howard (FG). “Since this pandemic began a year ago we have discovered how much we value and really need our outdoor spaces,” she stated in seconding the proposal. Howard believed Ennis was “blessed with amenities” and acknowledged the frequent use of the amenity already by the public.

Memories of Cllr Pat Daly (FF) went back further years, “we used to play cowboys and indians up there when I was a young lad and the cowboys used to always win,” he recalled. He described the areas as “beautiful” and “a jewel in the crown of the town”.

Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) didn’t go back to his school days but informed the meeting that the route from Ennis out through the Rocky Rd to South-West Clare is recorded as far back as 1306. “It was a pilgrim route, it connected all the way back along as far as Corrovorrin as far as Ballyalla”. He added, “We should open the cheque book and use some of the levies the planning system collects to connect neighbourhood wood all the way into town. If necessary, most councillors would allocate money from the GMA to repay the loan”.

This view was endorsed by Colleran Molloy, “We need to open the cheque book, the monies are not huge. I support the use of our GMA”. “It could provide a valuable amenity, I’ve no doubt the discussions will be opened off the back of this and an approach will be made to the landowner,” Mayor of Ennis, Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) predicted.

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