Taxpayer faces €10,000 bill to put the A back in Lahinch

Residents living in the seaside resort of “Lehinch” are poised to put the A back into the resort’s name in a move that could cost the tax-payer at least €10,000 to implement.

The seaside resort has been popularly known as Lahinch since the 1850s, but the name was changed on official road signs to Lehinch around five years ago.

This arises from the resort appearing as Lehinch on the Placenames Database of Ireland and on Ordnance Survey Maps.

However, the switch from the Ain the name resulted in some locals taking direct action by covering up the E with an A in signs around the village.

Now, following a decision by a Clare County Council special policy committee (SPC) on the issue, councillors are looking to set aside funds in 2018 for a local plebiscite in Lahinch on the issue.

Lahinch native and council member, Cllr Bill Slattery (FG), said yesterday: “People are very annoyed the way the name was changed in the road signs. As far I can recall, Lahinch with an A has always been Lahinch.”

The chairman of the SPC committee, Cllr Joe Cooney (FG), said: “It is a joke that the spelling is not right and is important that the spelling is put right.”

Cllr Cooney said that other towns and villages are affected with mis-spellings on official road signs and that the planned plebiscite for Lahinch will be a pilot project with more to follow.

Lahinch hotelier Michael Vaughan agreed, stating that Ballyvaughan lost its U in signs and Miltown Malbay got an extra L in the changes made to signs five years ago.

Mr Vaughan said the name change to Lehinch “is something that has annoyed the citizens of Lahinch from the day it was altered without consideration for the businesses and it has caused nothing but confusion”.

The owner of Vaughan’s Lodge hotel, Mr Vaughan said: “For guests coming to the hotel every summer, it is probably the most asked question I get “what is the story with the two names? Which is correct?’ That kind of confusion shouldn’t be anywhere.”

He added: “I have been tempted to put a sign up in front of the hotel saying ‘It is Lahinch’.”

Mr Vaughan said that until the name is changed, “the petty vandalism” on the Lehinch signs around the resort will continue.

He said that the name change has particularly affected long-time residents of Lahinch: “They feel very slighted by it. It is something that has happened to them without their asking. When officialdom changes names like this, there should be widespread consultation.”

Mr Vaughan said that the controversy around the name change “is a salutary lesson when people make changes, there should be consultation because you are talking about people’s sense of place and that is something that goes to the heart of the Irish psyche”.

Mr Vaughan said that it will be money well spent to put the ‘A’ back into the name. He said: “Whatever it costs to change it back, the authorities deserve to have to pay it.” The estimated costings around the name change to Dingle-Daingean Uí Chúis from a 2006 plebiscite were put at least €10,000 at the time.

A spokesman for Clare County Council said yesterday that it is not possible yet to provide an approximate cost on the proposed name change for Lahinch. He said that such costings will be considered following the passing of a council resolution on the issue.

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