‘Instead of improving the area it has downgraded it’ – Hermitage residents hit out at recent roadworks

'Instead of improving the area it has downgraded it' - Hermitage residents hit out at recent roadworks

*Michael Mahon, Brid Dinan, Caroline Ryan, Michael Kelleher and Michael Leahy. Photograph: John Mangan

HERMITAGE RESIDENTS have been left downbeat with the quality of works undertaken in the vicinity which they feel have downgraded the area.

Over a three day period last week from Wednesday to Friday, contractors resurfaced the road in Hermitage but the standard of the finished product has left a lot to be desired for local residents.

Ruan native Michael Leahy has been based in Hermitage for the past three years. For a quarter of a century he tarred roads with a local company and was at a loss with the methods conducted when resurfacing the Ennis area. “I can’t understand why they sprayed chip on top of concrete without some sort of base before it, I can understand them doing it on tar because it will take it but not the way it is. What they have left us with is swimming pools and a terrible looking place. It wasn’t prepared, it was smacked down. You’d have a base and you’d roll it, this was with a special machine but it didn’t have a roller on top of it. They have markings down and manhole covers, I presume they are coming back”.

He continued, “It is very poor, the sad thing about it is that was there beforehand was concrete and that was grand, they had finished it off nicely prior to it but then when they came along they made it a dog’s dinner. There was no one to turn to for us to complain about it, we got onto the Council and to be fair to them they said they were aware of it but that it was an Irish Water contract, someone else contacted Irish Water but they never got back to us”.

A former Chairman of the Munster Football Association, Michael stated, “There’s water forming in areas where it never was before. It was a matter for them to put it down, get out of here and go, they weren’t bothered if we were concerned about it or not”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Michael remarked, “It hasn’t done the community any good, no one seems to listen to them, it comes back to the attitude ‘oh it’s Hermitage they’ll take what they can get’ which is wrong. We’ve had councillors out to look at it but that’s all we can do”.

Caroline Ryan will mark 62 years living in Hermitage this December. She was upset with the impact the works have had on the place she resides in. “The quality of work is atrocious, instead of improving the area they have destroyed it, there was plain concrete and they have just destroyed it with this, it isn’t even real tarmacadam, it is just a shoddy job. The Grotto has only just been painted and they have it all splattered with tar, it cost €2000 or €3000 to paint with the support of the community”.

She added, “We thought it was just a first coat but it is actually finished, who would sign that off? I don’t think anyone would, it is disgraceful. We’re so disappointed, instead of trying to improve the area they have really brought it backwards, they could have done something else with the money. People have worked tooth and nail to get the Grotto looking so well, since COVID we don’t go door to door collecting so we have no funding”.

Conditions in the winter with frost on top of the road will pose further problems, Caroline warned. “That will be another story, there is an awful lot of elderly people living around, if you haven’t a good surface they will trip and fall, the way it is now it is lumpy, one wrong move and you are on the ground”.

Brid Dinan has been living in Hermitage for the last fifty eight years, she is a central figure involved in maintaining The Grotto, the focal point of The Tage but the recently painted exterior has been covered in splatters from the tarmacadam. “It is a disgrace, I live over there, we had a lovely concrete road and they came along and tarred it over, it is up and down now with water lodging on it, they have the Grotto wall destroyed,” she said.

She continued, “We’ve to work to get funding, to get people to paint it, to get the flowers done, to get the grass cut, the Grotto is coming to 70 years next year so it is disappointing the way it is now. The road is a show, it is a disgrace”.

“I don’t drive anymore, my walk isn’t great anyway, I’d be worried about losing my feet since the road has been done. Frost on top of it in the winter will be a big concern. It is so rough, uneven. Looking out my window I can see the lugs of water if it has rained, the lugs, the bumps, everything else,” Brid told The Clare Echo.

Locals like Michael were not hopeful the situation would improve. “The honest truth is this is going to be here for the rest of our days, nothing will be done because there is nothing you can do, they’re not going to dig it up unless they come back and completely tar the whole lot because I can’t see them doing that because it would cost a fortune. This isn’t just here, St Michael’s Villas has been ruined too and there is no comeback, the attitude is once it’s done give it a few months and they will forget about it altogether”.

“We can’t see anything changing, who do you go to, who do you ask, who is the contractor that we can talk to, it’s just Irish Water, they are not accountable, there is no name we can look to talk to and they don’t want to hear us. All we got was a letter to say there would be work on the road, we didn’t think they were going to do this, when I saw the machine I asked them if they were spray chipping it, they said they were and I told them they couldn’t because the place wasn’t ready, they went ahead and that was it”.

When contacted by The Clare Echo to justify the works undertaken, a spokesperson for Uisce Éireann claimed that the works were not completed by them.

In a statement to The Clare Echo, Clare County Council confirmed that Ralumac was the surface installed in Hermitage and that it was “an approved method for sealing and protecting roads in low trafficked areas with speed limits of 50kmph or less. This method is used extensively across the country and has been previously used in many areas across Clare including Ennis. The purpose of the surface is to seal the existing road and thereby extend its lifespan. This type of surfacing is a cheaper alternative than a traditional road overlay. Residential areas in Ennis are very unlikely to receive funding for any other type of surface. This is especially prevalent in Hermitage as the existing roads are of a concrete structure. The only alternative in this scenario is to break up, remove and relay the existing concrete. This is not a financially viable option and such a methodology would likely cause damage to nearby structures.

“Ralumac when installed does not look aesthetically pleasing and takes a number of weeks to bed in. However after a period of approximately 6 weeks it will be difficult to differentiate this surface from a traditional overlay surface. Excess road chipping will be swept once a sufficient amount of time has elapsed for the new surface to bed in. As outlined above the purpose of the product is to extend the lifespan of the road and to prevent further deterioration and eventual failure of the surface below. This increases the safety of all road users, especially pedestrians. Without intervention the existing road would continue to deteriorate. We also note that in late 2022 Clare County Council received representations on behalf of the residents in Hermitage with regard to the deteriorating road surface. As a result Ennis Municipal District included the concrete roads in Hermitage within the Schedule of Municipal District Works for 2023”.

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