With the sun making its first appearance of the year business was brisk on Courtown’s Main Street last Friday afternoon.
Families, children, pets, groups of youths, all weaved their way up and down the thoroughfare, in and out of the shops which lead the way towards the beach. But they did so on just one side of the street, on one footpath when there should be two.
Following the demolition of the Bayview House Hotel in 2020 a metal barrier was erected to prevent the public from entering the site, and it was erected right by the roadside, beyond the footpath. As a result, one of the busiest parts of one of the busiest coastal villages in the county has just one small footpath to bring people to and from the beach.
Not only that, the barrier on the opposite side of the road goes all the way around the corner, creating a blind spot for motorists and pedestrians alike.
Chris Dirwin has seen the chaos this barrier has caused at first-hand over the past two years. As the proprietor of the popular Yellow Shop, he has a perfect vantage point and says his sole concern is the safety of those coming to Courtown this summer.
“The hotel came down two years ago and it was supposed to be redeveloped, we’ve had promise after promise, plan after plan, I’m not worried about it as a site, the only issue I’d have is a safety concern; where’s the footpath?” he asked.
“The amount of people with kids walking up and down there, we’ve had a lot of near misses, people with children, with dogs, in wheelchairs trying to get by, they have to go on the road to get by and they’ve nearly been hit by vehicles.”
As we speak, children squeeze their way past, older kids cross the road, walking round the corner as cars appear out of nowhere.
“The council do a good job here, they keep the place clean, but we want the footpath back, just to make it safer for the kids we have coming down here in the summer time,” continues Chris.
“It’s all about the safety, we don’t mind about the custom, you’ll always get custom. They could move it back in and give us the footpath and paint a lovely beach mural on it, some hanging baskets to brighten it up. If the place looks terrible people aren’t going to come back. At the weekends traffic is up and round the corner.”
Patrick Byrne runs nearby Candy Land and he shares similar fears.
“Anyone coming round that corner is doing so totally blind, we’ve begged, pleaded, done everything, the councillors have tried too,” he said. “We’re a village and we should have our footpaths. We’re all rate-payers we’re entitled to have another footpath over there.”