Locals angry after large section of Fermoy weir crumbled away

Locals angry after large section of Fermoy weir crumbled away

Anger has been expressed at a delay in fixing an important weir, a large section of which has crumbled away in recent days.

The collapse of the weir on the River Blackwater in Fermoy, County Cork had been predicted by members of a local rowing club, fishermen and county councillors as they lobbied in vain for the past two years to get government funding to repair it.

A 10m section of the weir collapsed last Wednesday morning and there are now serious concerns about the migration of fish and how it will affect the activities of Fermoy Rowing Club, which has produced a number of Olympians.

Last October lobby group Save The Weir, Save The Salmon met in Fermoy with minister for state at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Sean Kyne.

The group, which represents 12 local organisations, urged him to take action to prevent the weir crumbling.

He said he has asked the council to provide a commitment in writing that it would provide €300,000 of its own funds to progress planning and to provide him with “a fully-costed design”.

When asked at the time if his department and IFI (Inland Fisheries Ireland) would fund the project he said he was “confident”, but admitted at that stage he could not guarantee it.


Save The Weir, Save The Salmon spokesman, Paul Kavanagh, who is also a prominent member of the rowing club, said they have been lobbying for two years and nothing has progressed.

However, the crumbling state of the weir was raised a number of years earlier at meetings of the now-defunct Fermoy Town Council.

Mr Kavanagh said the course of the river and its speed has changed as a result of the latest weir collapse and because there is now a real danger for people using the river for recreational activities they are looking at putting up warning buoys: "The water course has again changed from going directly across the river last summer, to now going down the south bank by the garda barracks."

He said that breaches in the weir have resulted in a drop in water levels and warned:

If we get a hot summer similar to last year's we may not be able to run our annual regatta.

The rowing club has held a regatta for more than 100 years and it is always one of the most eagerly anticipated events for rowers all over the country.

He said that the damage would cause serious problems for migrating salmon and lamprey and that salmon fishing is worth a lot of money to the local economy.

"Fishing is something we're trying to promote in what is the tidiest town in Ireland," Mr Kavanagh said.

Fermoy-based Cllr Noel McCarthy said he will raise the matter at Cork County Council meeting next Monday and expressed his frustration at the delay in getting funding to repair the weir.

He also predicted that it would collapse, but was surprised that it didn't crumble during a serious flood: "There's no doubt in my mind that if we do get a serious flood in the river it will take away what remains of it. This is a big problem and we need action now, not more words."

He said the County Council is still awaiting €300,000 funding for a survey to be undertaken on the extent of the damage to the weir and how it would be fixed.

It's understood this will include a small land acquisition and the building of a new fish run.

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