A MULTI-million Euro proposed road upgrade in Tipperary faces the obstacle of a potential threat to a local holy well and an ancient farmhouse.
Tipperary Co Council are considering four route options for a major upgrade of the N24 Limerick to Waterford route - but one proposal has sparked controversy in Cahir.
That route option brings the road close to Toureen outside the south Tipperary town - and locals warned that, if selected, it will pose a threat to St Pecaun's holy well which dates back to the 8th Century as well as to an historic local farmhouse.
That farmhouse is occupied by Joan McGrath and her husband - and the structure is believed to date back more than three centuries.
Some consider it to be one of the oldest continually inhabited properties in Tipperary.
Public submissions on the four route options are currently being considered by Tipperary Co Council - and the McGraths warned the Toureen option, along countryside just north of the Galtee Mountains, would have massive long term local consequences.
“It is full of wildlife, there’s plenty of deer around and also the more scarce animals such as hedgehogs, red squirrels, bats and even pine martens,” Joan told TippFM.
“I suppose more importantly about where we live is that in a neighbouring field there is a place called St Pecaun’s which is a very, very old 7th or 8th century ruin which is very significant in terms of history and archaeology."
As well as a stone-lined holy well, the area involved also contains what legend claims is St Pecaun's cell and an ancient bullaun stone.
The saint was highly revered in the south Tipperary area and had a pattern day celebrated on August 1 each year.
For hundreds of years the well was also the site of local pilgrimages.
“Back in 2016 Tipperary County Council published a landscape character assessment and it classified Toureen as an area where development is to be avoided.
“It is considered as a Class 5 area which basically categorises it as (environmentally and culturally) unique. The documents specify that development should be avoided and yet here we are today with it as one of the options.”
The importance of the N24 upgrade between Cahir and Limerick is underpinned by the fact the route was being considered as a possible alternative for the M20 Cork-Limerick motorway - with traffic diverting from Cork to Limerick off the existing Cork-Dublin motorway at Cahir.
It was proposed as a cheaper option to the €1bn Cork-Limerick motorway.
However, this option was vehemently opposed by Cork and Limerick interests who felt it effectively condemned towns like Mallow, Charleville, Croom and Patrickswell along the existing N20 route.
A decision on the route option for the N24 won't be taken for some months as public submissions are carefully considered by the council.