Monday 21 January 2019

'Snow tourists' slow down clear up

Snow-covered roads at Ballinastoe (Photo: Joanne McGillycuddy)
Snow-covered roads at Ballinastoe (Photo: Joanne McGillycuddy)
Snow-covered roads at Ballinastoe (Photo: Joanne McGillycuddy)

Myles Buchanan

'Snow tourists' have been accused of hampering efforts to clear the snow in Roundwood by driving around uplands areas to see how bad the conditions were.

Snow drifts of up to eight or nine feet were experienced in Roundwood, as well as parts of Laragh and Newtownmountkennedy.

Cllr Shay Cullen has praised local efforts to clear roads, blocked driveways and other treacherous routes. However, the situation was not helped by tourists travelling to the uplands to see for themselves how severely Roundwood and other areas had been hit.

'You had a lot of motorists or "snow tourists" coming up the Kilmacanogue road and causing complete chaos. Attempts were being made to clear the roads on Sunday but then you had all these cars and jeeps coming into Roundwood for no reason. They slowed down the whole process. Why people would want to come to witness the damage for themselves is beyond me. There were already public warnings issued telling people to stay away. They should be much more respectful of the people who actually live here and are struggling to get things back on track.'

A social media post from Wicklow County Council on Sunday said that work had been hampered on the Long Hill due to 'careless drivers' and that the gritter had to cease work in the area.

While the village itself may have remained blocked off for a considerable time, Centra and the Coach House still managed to stay open to provided any necessities, even as provisions began to run low.

Speaking on Tuesday, Gabriel Kearney of Centra said: 'Things are still bad but they are at least improving. Thankfully things are beginning to get back to normal. Customers were reliant on us for supplies so we stayed open for at least a few hours every day, even on Thursday and Friday. We kept people informed with updates as well so people could pop in for anything they required. Stocks began to run low but the Mountain Rescue were great and managed to deliver some of our goods up to us.'

By Sunday noon time the Roundwood to Newtownmountkennedy road was still closed as council workers continued clearing the route. Ballyduff crossroads from Ashford to Roundwood was clear but only a single line of traffic was operational from the reservoir to Roundwood village. Motorists were being advised to take the Annamoe route for at least a 24-hour-period.

By Monday morning the Kilmacanogue Road remained local access only. While it was considered passable, it needed to be kept clear for the delivery of supplies to the village.

Drifts outside houses reached up to 10 feet, blocking doors and forcing some residents to exit their homes via a window.

Cllr Cullen, cathaoirleach of Wicklow Municipal District, was full of praise for the 'community effort' which helped ease some of the areas which were worst hit.

'Anyone who owned a JCB or tractor was out helping to try and clear things up, both driveways and roads. We were hit pretty hard and it took a real community effort,' he said.

'I have to say the council staff worked extremely hard. They were out in force clearing up areas in Roundwood, Laragh and Newtownmountkennedy. The local overseer Seamus Timmins and his crew deserve a huge amount of credit. They have carried out Trojan work under very difficult circumstances.

'Mountain Rescue did a lot of work as well. I know one lady had to be assisted after she fell on the ice and broke her arm. It has been difficult but at least everyone has grouped together,' said Cllr Cullen.

Bray People