Three Clare towns are set to host local votes in an effort to correct “misspellings” which have appeared on all official signs for the towns since 2011.
Local groups have formed in the towns of Lahinch, Ennistymon, and Corofin, with each group set write to Clare County Council later this week to officially begin the legal process of changing the towns’ names. The local authority has confirmed it is the appropriate agency to deal with this issue, and that a local vote, similar to that hosed in Dingle in 2006, may also be required.
This situation arose more than five years ago when Transport Infrastructure Ireland, formally the NRA, contracted Clare County Council to update signage on the N67 tourism route.
At this time the official legal spelling of the towns, which was derived from documentation written before the formation of the state, was used to replace the traditional local spellings which had appeared on all signage for the past 100 years.
This transformed major tourist towns such as Lahinch, Ennistymon, and Corofin to Lehinch, Ennistimon, and Corrofin.
Locals in Lahinch took matters into their own hands earlier this year and manually corrected the spelling of a number of signs — a move that was later reversed by Clare County Council.
“The people in Lahinch want this resolved. If you’re going to be going back looking for names on maps that are more than 150 years old it is a bit ridiculous. I don’t think there is anyone in Lahinch or the surrounding area who is going to spell it Lehinch,” said Lahinch native Seamus Ryan.
“It’s important that this is resolved quickly. You have the Wild Atlantic Way taking off and lots of businesses that are relying on tourism. Do we want to confuse these tourists who are looking for Lehinch when they are driving through Lahinch? I don’t think we do.”
According to Patsy Ricks of the Ennistymon group, the new names are robbing these towns of their identity.
“I’ve been living here since 1969 and for all that time Ennistymon has been spelt with a Y, Lahinch has been spelled with an A and Corofin has been spelled with one R. Then all of a sudden all the names have changed,” she said.
“We want the old names back. These names are part of the place where we live and changing them is changing the identity of the place. The must have spent a fortune doing this and I can’t imagine why they did it,” she said.
Gerry Kennedy of the Corofin and District Development Company says he is ready to bring a proposal to Clare County Council in the coming days.
“This is an incredibly confusing situation, especially for visitors, who may be using sat-navs to find their way to Corofin. We need to get this sorted and from talking to local people, 99.9% of them want the signs changed back to Corofin, which is what we all grew up with,” he said.
“We are ready to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. We want to use the standard spelling and we want to see everything that has two Rs in it removed. We will follow whatever procedure is required, if that means hosting a local plebiscite then that’s what we will do.”
A spokesperson from Clare County Council said they will outline the exact procedure for changing the legal name of a town, once an official request has been received.
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