Thursday 21 November 2019

'Some tourists are baffled and think it's just a scam to sell bottled water'

Thirsty work: Lorcan Gibney in Gibney’s pub. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Thirsty work: Lorcan Gibney in Gibney’s pub. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Allison Bray

Best-selling author June Considine may have read a few potboilers in her day, but she never imagined she'd be forced to boil pots of water just to get through the day.

The native of Malahide, north Co Dublin - whose pen name is thriller and children's writer Laura Elliot - is among 600,000 residents of counties Dublin, Kildare, and Meath who have been put on their second boil water notice in a fortnight.

Relaxing with her husband Sean Considine over lattes at their local café in Malahide yesterday, Ms Considine said being forced to boil water they intended to drink or cook with was an unwanted distraction.

"It's annoying," she told the Irish Independent.

Being forced to boil water every time she wants to prepare food or have a glass of water hasn't cut into time she would otherwise spend writing - she is taking a breather after her latest psychological thriller 'The Thorn Girl' was published last month. But she said it was a hard habit to adopt.

"It's trying to remember not to brush your teeth with tap water," she said.

Paul McGuinness of Gilbert and Wright. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Paul McGuinness of Gilbert and Wright. Photo: Steve Humphreys

And it was easy to forget, added Sean.

"Last night I had a glass of [tap] water. I thought about it a bit but I figured that if I got sick, it would be minor," he said.

But the couple agreed the second boil notice in just two weeks is a bit much for the public.

"I wouldn't have expected it to happen again so soon," said Ms Considine.

Sean and June Considine. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Sean and June Considine. Photo: Steve Humphreys

"I expect this to be of short duration but you don't know," she added.

Ms Considine said that while they had never been forced to boil water before due to possible contamination, she worried whether this was the start of a recurring problem.

"I've never had an issue with it before but it makes you question it," she said.

"You hear about other counties [with ongoing boil water notices].

"I expect this to be of short-term duration but you don't know."

Alan Purcell, owner of café Seomra Tae, said he was also finding the second boil notice wearing a bit thin.

He and his staff must now boil all the water they use to prepare tea and coffee for the shop as well as to prepare food.

"It's all hassle," he said.

"We have to be conscious of things like whether food is gluten-free and now with water, it's on our heads if we don't get it right."

And the problems don't end when he shuts up shop for the day and heads home.

He lives in Ashbourne, Co Meath, which has also been hit with the second boil notice.

While he joked that his six-year-old son would be delighted to have any excuse not to brush his teeth, he said it was no laughing matter.

"If this was to be prolonged, I'd have to think about it.

"If it continues like in Galway, we'd have to sit down and figure out what to do," he said.

At nearby Gibney's pub, co-owner Lorcan Gibney said he had been forced to convince some customers that they had no choice but to pay for bottled water.

"We have a lot of tourists and they're baffled by it," he said.

"They think it's a scam to sell bottled water."

Although the lack of tap water hasn't led to a corresponding surge in the sale of alcoholic drinks, Mr Gibney said it was "an annoyance" all the same.

Paul McGuinness, manager of the Gilbert and Wright pub also in Malahide village, said he had been forced to "import" the pub's ice supply from Co Wicklow.

Ice, ironically, has become a hot commodity among the local pubs and restaurants that are faced with the same dilemma.

The boil water notice also means many businesses can't sell tea or coffee because their machines are hooked up to the mains water supply.

"It's better to not use it at all," said Mr McGuinness.

"You don't want to find that any of your customers have been sick."

But he added the second boil water notice in the space of two weeks was not good for business.

"If people want a splash of water with their whiskey, we have to sell them a bottle of bottled water as well," he explained.

Irish Independent

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