Kerry council refuses to fold on street umbrella to provide sun and rain shelter

It may have been raining cats and dogs yesterday in Killarney amid howling winds — but it was shelter from the summer sun that worried a meeting of the local council.

Councillor Michael Gleeson (Independent Alliance) wanted to know if the “long-awaited umbrellas would be affording visitors and locals alike shelter from the summer sun during 2016 as they relaxed in Killarney town centre”.

He initially floated the idea in 2013 after years of relentless rain and out of concern about keeping visitors to Killarney dry.

Mr Gleeson is expecting a good summer after a long winter. The umbrellas, originally planned for shelter from the rain, are dual purpose and would this year be needed for the expected sun.

A fact-finding trip was made by a council engineer, the Killarney town clerk, and Mr Gleeson himself in 2013 to a specialist factory in southern Germany to view the street umbrellas.

He insisted it had been “no junket” as they had taken the Ryanair flight from Farranfore to Frankfurt-Hahn, had gone to bed early, and then got on a bus for 320km to a factory, before returning home — all in 23 hours.

They were impressed by the self-controlling umbrellas, which sense windspeeds of more than 60km/h and fold of their own volition.

The street furniture had been fully approved by the then town council at an estimated cost of €50,000. Sites to include drainage poles, in case of rain, on Killarney’s Main St had been selected.

However, the town council was abolished under the local government reforms of 2014.

The project had not been pursued, Mr Gleeson explained at yesterday’s meeting of the Killarney Municipal District.

While delayed, the project had not been folded, so to speak, as town manager Angela McAllen assured the meeting “this project has merit”.

“But it needs further consideration in relation to location, streetscape, impact, procurement, operation, on-going maintenance, and costing,” she said.


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