*Joan Duggan presents the petition to Mayor of Ennis MD, Cllr Pat Daly (FF). Photograph: Tom Micks
AN ELDERLY ENNIS resident has claimed life will change for the elderly completely if parking spaces are removed from Abbey Street and Harvey’s Quay.
Joan Duggan, a former primary school teacher at the Holy Family, had the distinction on Tuesday of presenting Mayor of the Ennis Municipal District, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) with a petition containing over 3,500 signatures from the public expressing their opposition to a project identified in the Ennis 2040 Strategy which would see a mixed-use development constructed on Abbey Street car park.
As Save Ennis Town’s silent march travelled from Abbey Street to the headquarters of Clare County Council on Tuesday morning, Joan had to drive the short journey due to her limited mobility.
She told The Clare Echo, “If they decide to build on the car parks my whole life will change, I have limited mobility, I won’t be able to go my pharmacy which I’ve been going to for years since I came to town and that is very important to me because I have medical conditions, I won’t be able to go to the bookshop or coffee shops which are very important to me to meet friends, clothes shops in Ennis, our town is noted for its boutiques, people come from all over for a day, if they have a family occasion they can dress their whole family comfortably in Ennis, if they haven’t parking they won’t come. It happened me recently down east of the country, we were driving and my husband said we’d stop for coffee here and I said ‘no, there’s no parking in that town, we won’t’, we drove on and went somewhere else”.
Presently, Joan travels to the town centre on a daily basis. “Because of my mobility it is important to keep moving and be meeting people, at my age I don’t want to be confined to the house”.
She felt parking is already limited in the town even without the potential of the office and retail unit proceeding on Abbey Street car park. “I will be left with only the Friary Car Park, as it is I like to go to the fish shop and the fruit and veg shop in The Market but at the moment I can’t get there a lot of the time because there isn’t parking in The Market, already parking is very limited in Ennis, sometimes when I went to go to the shops that I’ve mentioned I’ve to use Abbey Street car park, I’ve invalid parking, I have very limited walking ability”.
Ms Duggan has pleaded to members of Ennis 2040 DAC and the Ennis Municipal District to accompany her on a trip to the town centre to understand the difficulties of the elderly and persons with mobility issues first hand. “I would say to anyone from the DAC or the Ennis Municipal District, come with me and I’ll show them what it is like for an elderly person with limited mobility or any person with limited mobility as it is to get parking in Ennis, it is so difficult.
“If they build in the two car parks my life will change totally, I’ll have to try make a new life for myself out of the town. I’m lucky that I don’t mind driving on the motorway but other people will just drive into town and do their business, if you drive into town, walk around you will meet people, it is essential for our mental health, there’s plenty of places out the Gort Rd with the Industrial Estate and the Technology Park, the old Ennis National site that is growing weeds”.
On why she was chosen to deliver the petition, Joan stated, “I’ve nothing to gain except my life, it is important for my lifestyle, I’m not connected to any of the traders or retailers or any officers in town, I’ve no connection to them, I’m a retired person but I care about the town, I’ve lived here for 46 years, I’ve done all my shopping in the town, it is a lovely town and I’d hate to see it go down the swanny which will happen if we get another white elephant, one is more than enough, they’re lethal places for anti-social behaviour which is a problem in the town”.
In a statement to The Clare Echo, a spokesperson for Clare County Council outlined, “The total number of car parking spaces in Ennis available for use by the public currently lies at 2,923. These spaces will remain available for the foreseeable future. There currently is 1 parking space for every 13 people living in Ennis. To put this into context, Waterford City has 1 parking space for every 29 people, while Navan – a town not dissimilar in size and population to Ennis – has 1 parking space for every 24 people.
“An additional 85 public parking spaces will be provided at the Waterpark campus in Drumbiggle subject to Part VIII planning approval being secured in late 2023. Planning permission also has been granted for the allocation of a further 129 permanent spaces at the Cloister Carpark, which currently offers 70 parking spaces. Furthermore, planning has been granted for the provision of 156 temporary spaces at the site of the former Boys National School. While Clare County Council will continue to work actively towards the provision of additional public car parking in the town centre and its environs to complement existing parking facilities, it is important to note that the delivery of a public town bus service in Ennis by 2025 and the rollout of Active Travel projects including enhancements to footpaths, public lighting, and new cycle infrastructure during 2023 and 2024 will further improve access to the town”.