Death of cyclist sparks call for change
Local woman Annette Mannix died in road accident at busy junction that has been subject of countless council meetings
The sister of Killarney woman Annette Mannix (48) who was killed in a tragic cycling accident last Wednesday, said she doesn't want her sister's death to be in vain, adding that action needs to be taken with immediate effect at the dangerous Killarney junction.
Suzanne Dennehy told The Kerryman that 450 people signed a petition at Annette’s funeral demanding immediate action at the busy junction where the Lewis Road meets the N22.
"The petition was placed near the book of condolences," an emotional Suzanne revealed. "So many people in Killarney have been impacted by accidents at this junction and the petition was to give Killarney people the opportunity to do something.
"Hopefully, Annette's death will not be in vain. This is the kind of issue that Annette herself would have fought for in life. The support and kindness has been phenomenal from the people of Killarney," she added.
Annette (48) only recently joined Killarney Cycling Club and was out cycling with 20 other members at the time of the tragic incident, shortly after 7pm. Suzanne said she is mindful of the feelings of others involved in the incident, including the driver of the tractor, and she instead focused on the dangers of a junction that has witnessed several serious accidents in recent years.
"A number of cyclists have reported this junction in the past. I wouldn't have been hugely conscious of how dangerous it is myself while driving it. But looking at it retrospectively, it's obvious that turning left onto Lewis Road is extremely dangerous. It's only when something like this happens that you take notice of it.
"It's very dangerous and very badly laid out for cyclists. Crossing over the road coming from the Tralee side is also hazardous and eventually a person will take risks trying to cross it," Suzanne added. Annette was a member of the local Residents Committee at St Brendan's Terrace and she had been looking after their mother for the past three years. Suzanne said her sister had always worked towards promoting traffic safety in the area.
"Annette herself had witnessed a tragic road traffic accident in the past and it's hard to believe that she has now been killed in one," Suzanne added.
Annette had been travelling towards Cleeney Roundabout when the incident happened. Emergency Services rushed to attend but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Killarney Cycling Club representatives said they are devastated at her loss. "We're absolutely devastated for her family. Annette was very well liked and the club is deeply saddened by what has happened," said Brendan Cassidy of Killarney Cycling Club.
The Lewis Road Junction on the N22 has witnessed a number of serious accidents over the years and has been the subject of several heated council debates at town council, municipal district and county council levels over the past decade. Only last month, Cllr Donal Grady tabled a motion at the Killarney Municipal District meeting requesting an update on the junction. The motion read: 'We have a duty to try to save lives and we cannot continue to accept nothing being done at this junction'.
Moreover, in April 2016, Cllr Brendan Cronin called for safety works at the junction; he said at the time: 'I'm appealing to you please as it's extremely dangerous - a neighbour of mine was killed there some years ago'.
Speaking to to The Kerryman on Monday, Cllr Grady said this was his eighth time submitting such a motion. "The family are good friends of mine and they're absolutely devastated. The fire brigade are at that junction at least once every two weeks attending an accident there. I intend on being a part of any deputation to meet with the TII as I've been highlighting this issue for years," Cllr Grady added.
Cllr Cronin brought an emergency motion before the chamber at Monday's full council meeting calling for immediate action. "It's the first time ever in my life that I have seen a petition at a funeral. Every single person signed it.
"I'm begging KCC to facilitate this motion. We want action now and the sad reality is, not one single change has been made after all the motions put forward," he said.
Killarney Superintendent Flor Murphy described it as a 'very sad and tragic' accident.
Priest stresses need for cycle safety measures
Celebrant at the Requiem Mass for Annette Mannix, Fr Jim Lenihan, has urged engineers to design and make cycling paths more available on local roads.
At Sunday's Mass, Fr Jim Lenihan prayed for all involved in last Wednesday's tragic accident, asking God for healing and comfort for all affected, before raising wider issues over cycling safety and asking that engineers design and make more cycling paths available on local roads.
Contacted by The Kerryman, Fr Lenihan said he himself was a cyclist and so he was fully aware of the need for improved safety measures for cyclists, particularly at the Lewis Road junction.
"It just doesn't make sense to have cycling lanes on both sides of the Bypass for most of the road, yet the narrowest part is at the busiest junction. It's completely ridiculous, especially with the concentration of vehicles at that point.
"I know from speaking to Annette's family that she would always have fought to improve things, so something positive will hopefully arise from the situation."