Some time ago, the Office of Public Works (OPW) installed a flood barrier at the entrance to the quay in Clarecastle to protect the village from future flooding. While the job was deemed very necessary to protect the village rising river waters, the construction was largely a concrete structure that did not meet the sensitive requirements of an important historical area.
For more than three centuries, this quay was the chief port of mid-Clare handling large volumes of imports and exports from Liverpool, Glasgow, London, Europe, Scandanavia and Canada. Competition from the Ennis to Limerick railway in the 19th century saw the beginning of the decline of the port and the last cargo vessel to dock at the extensive quays of Clarecastle was the MV Sisu from Sweden in 1969.
The new flood protection measure was left in no state to reflect the importance of this heritage site. Upset and outraged by the finish on the new flood prevention barrier, Clarecastle Community Development’s Tidy Towns and Heritage & Wildlife Groups approached the OPW and asked it to soften the appearance of the structure which had been described in the recent Tidy Towns Competition report as “utilitarian”. Just recently the structure has been faced in stone, with a fine limestone plinth to cap the walls. A new entrance sign, with the “Port of Clare” in both Irish and English script has been placed across the barrier and extensive landscaping which is now in progress will further soften the appearance of the barrier. A limestone plinth is being placed on a green area at the Quay on which a large anchor will be placed.
“The flood barrier is now much more in keeping with this important heritage site”, commented Christy Leyden, Chair of Clarecastle Community Development’s Tidy Towns and Heritage and Wildlife Committees. Christy was addressing a group at the celebration of Tidy Towns achievements at the Old School on Monday evening. He went on to say that “the quay is a jewel in Clarecastle and we are grateful that the OPW worked with us to create a much more appropriately finished structure. Special thanks must go to Eamon O’Dea and Ruth Hurley of Clare County Council who helped considerably in designing the finish to the structure and to Joe Carey TD for his helpful assistance. This case should be an example for future projects of its kind that the utmost respect should be given to areas of historical importance and that planners, local authorities, local inhabitants and so on should consult before embarking on any changes to areas of historical interest to ensure that these changes compliment, preserve and enhance what is already there .”