In March 2013 Thurles Town Council (Comhairle Baile Ceanntar Dhurlas) announced the welcome news that it had at last purchased eight acres of land from St Patrick’s College for the provision of a new Thurles Town Park.
The land purchased, which partially bounds the east bank of the River Suir and partially backs onto the more recently constructed easterly Thurles Civic & Leisure Centre have now produced a preliminary design via some excellent planning work undertaken by Malachy Walsh & Partners, latter whose proposals went on public display in the past few weeks to a very small audience.
Local interested readers however can now view this proposed design here.
Having reviewed these excellent plans in detail I personally however would love to see perhaps three changes to the agreed overall designs. These changes come under the headings; Shelter Belt, Skateboard Park and River Suir and are discussed hereunder.
Local residents will be aware from weather conditions over the past few weeks that the annual prevailing wind blowing across Thurles arrives mainly from a South Westerly direction. This plan therefore begs the question has a sufficient shelter belt been provided in this plan for the Autumn /Winter months, thus ensuring the most frequent and maximum use of this needed public amenity?
To my mind planners should now review the East and West banks of the river Suir, together with the sites eastern boundary with St Patrick’s College, to ensure that a suitable shelter belt is put in place. The ideal tree for the outer ring of a shelter belt is of course evergreen because same provides protection all year round. Suitable fast growing evergreen trees would perhaps include Scots Pine, Monterey Pine, Evergreen Oak or Bay Tree. Suitable inner ring fast growing hedge plants could include Olearia traversii, Olearia macrodonta, Olearia paniculata, Olearia x virgata, Escallonia macrantha, Elaeagnus x ebbingei or Griselinia littoralis, all of which offers excellent boundary shelter to protect the winter walker.
Skateboard Park or Tennis Courts?
Skate boarding as a sport, began in the 1960’s developed by surfers as an activity when the ocean waves were too calm. It spread across here to Ireland much later. Today the sport for the vast majority of participants has taken the road of the now deceased but then popular Hula Hoop, invented in the late 1950’s. Skateboarding as a sport is profoundly difficult and technical and this fact leads many skaters to quickly quit. Worldwide the first skateboard magazine, “Quarterly Skateboarder,” which was published in 1964 ceased to exist five years later and although revived again as a business idea in 1975, under the title “Skateboarder”, it also failed in profitability in the early 1980s. This Christmas in Thurles not one Skateboard was sought as a Christmas gift from either Santa Clause or family members. Out of a population of some 12,000 people living in Thurles and its environs, the facebook page promoted by some local councillors to encourage support for such an amenity in August 2011, same has (as I go to print) after over two years only acquired 18 friends and 365 likes, latter mostly from others anxious to promote other enterprises.
So I say to our Town Councillors, the hint and future success maybe in this detail and if preliminary plans are not yet worked out, perhaps we could instead have returned to our town, two Tennis Courts, latter sold off as a building site and which in the past was so much enjoyed by men, women and youths of all ages groups between 10 & 65. My own feeling is that Local Councillors supporting such an amenity in Thurles were only copying ideas from Councillors in Athy, Castlebar, Bray and Sligo all of whom were attempting to court that ever elusive pre-election local newspaper headline. It is also interesting to note that bye-laws had to be introduced in American towns and cities preventing persons on the way to Skateboard parks from skateboarding on the footpaths. Police were given the task of administering fines of $500 for such social offences. Is Skateboarding in Thurles therefore popular enough to warrant the expenditure likely to be incurred by the taxpayer?
If I have any real criticism of Malachy Walsh & Partners preliminary design work, it is the fact that the river Suir, flowing through the town centre, has not been included fully as part of this overall development. This again, I suspect may be caused by a lack of imagination on the part of our local Councillors. According to reliable sources I understand that our recent remarks here on Thurles.Info regarding raw sewage continuing to flow unabated into the river Suir, just two metres south of Barry’s Bridge footpath and less than 25 metres from the town’s main shopping arena, were ignored at a recent council meeting by the remark “This is treated sewage and therefore no cause for concern.” This same remark then concluded any further intelligent conversation on this issue. This of course now begs the question whether or not we should put all treated sewage from Thurles, Cahir and Clonmel into the river Suir and let Waterford Harbour authorities deal with the consequences.
As a boy living near Courtown Harbour in Co Wexford many moons ago, one of the big attractions was to hire a small flat bottomed Pedal Boat and enjoy a short 15 minute trip in an area known as “The Basin.” There were about 10 such boats on hire and adults and youngsters waited and watched for hours to gain access to these boats during the summer season. Surely it is possible to raise the water level on the Suir a couple of feet, say from Barry’s bridge to below the Swinging Gate for such a profitable enterprise. If we can boat in Lough Derg surely we can use flat bottomed Pedal Boats on the river Suir. Anyone out there looking to invest in a start-up small business?
But first let’s remove and ban the entry of treated or otherwise raw sewage into the river Suir. Until we do, best also to cancel the area set aside for disabled fishing or at least put up a Pollution Sign e.g. Fish Taken From This River Are Unfit For Human Consumption.
What do you, the residents of Thurles think? Express your views by commenting, hereunder before any firm decisions are made for you by unimaginative public representatives. Remember this is your money being spent.