The most expensive flood prevention works ever carried out in Co Cork are all but complete and it’s hoped they will bring an end to years of misery and help to rejuvenate a town’s economy.
Since 2009 the Office of Public Works has been working in conjunction with Cork County Council to carry out the works at Fermoy, which is believed to have cost in the region of €38m.
There have been many significant floods in the town dating back to records from 1853.
In November 1916 one was so severe that two soldier garrisoned in the town were swept away from the bridge and drowned.
Further major floods were recorded in 1946 and 1980. In 1988 there were four floods, one of which saw waist-deep water engulf business premises in Brian Boru Square.
The flood prevention project was split into two phases. The one on the northside of the river was undertaken first. This section was completed in 2010.
Then in 2012, work commenced on the southern side of the town.
OPW senior resident project engineer Ger Barry said the project was now substantially complete.
In total there are now 1,050 metres of 3-4 metre high walls protecting the perimeter of the town centre and a further 400 metres of lower walls at key points within its core.
Demountable defence barriers can also be placed at both sides of the bridge.
“In total we used 7,000 cubic metres of concrete, 1,200 tonnes of reinforced steel, 1,400 square metres of steeling piling and 5kms of pipelines,” said Mr Barry.
At the height of the project, 90 people were employed directly and hundreds more indirectly through supply companies.
“A lot of work and investment has gone into the project. It’s a great achievement and we had a lot of cooperation from everybody,” Mr Barry said.
The town also got an additional facelift as part of the project.
“New limestone paving has been put down. There’s new street furniture, steel railings, public lighting, benches and trees. A new public convenience was also built [on Ashe Quay] and there’s a tourist kiosk in that building,” Mr Barry said.
The road along the quays is now being retarred and this will be finished this week.
Four pumping stations are currently being completed at Ashe Quay, O’Neill Crowley Quay, Mill Island and Mill Road. The first three will be buried underground.
Fermoy-based county councillor Noel McCarthy, who also runs a business in the town, said he was very impressed with the works.
“I know at times it has been an inconvenience for people living in the town. But I have no doubt now that they all see the benefit.”
He said that in previous years Fermoy had suffered from a lack of business investment because of the recurring floods.
“Some businesses just wouldn’t take the chance of locating here because of this and because they couldn’t get flood insurance. I think they will come in now and the work will also prove a boost for tourism,” Cllr McCarthy said.
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