‘Closure of the road has affected everything’

A picturesque village which regularly captures national attention through the Tidy Towns competition is fighting for its survival.

Rathbarry’s flood-stricken families were left out in the cold as local and central agencies focused on the disaster that struck larger Co Cork towns during the recent devastating deluge.

The village, a national award winner in the Tidy Towns, had one of its access roads completely washed away, while some residents were stranded in over 1m of water.

Rebuilding the access route between Rathbarry and Garranagoleen near Clonakilty is the first priority for locals.

Rathbarry is located close to Castlefreke castle and about 8km from Clonakilty — one of the worst-hit towns during the flooding late last month. The village experienced flood waters that came as high as 1.5m, causing irreparable damage to Wood Rd, the minor road from Clonakilty to Rathbarry.

Extensive damage was also caused to the village’s post office as well as to some homes.

Postmistress Breda Hodnett was stranded on a downstairs’ window-sill until neighbour Gerald Butler came to her rescue, using a ladder to enter the house from an upstairs window.

“It was a natural disaster of a mammoth scale,” Ms Hodnett’s son Joseph said.

“It was completely unprecedented. 1996 was the year we last had a flood in the village and it was nothing on the scale of this one. Only for the generosity and pure goodwill of neighbours we would not be this lucky today at all.

“However, the flood completely ripped out Wood Rd; you can see the underlying pipes and foundations.

“The closure of the road has affected everything from post to milk deliveries. You cannot physically pass the road,” he added.

Rathbarry residents are pleading with Cork County Council to commence immediate repairs on Wood Rd. “We had [Transport] Minister Leo Varadkar out to view the damage but we need work to start here fairly quickly,” Mr Hodnett said.

Mr Butler said Rath-barry’s priority is to get its tourism trade and its Tidy Town record back on track.

“Clean-up started immediately,” he said, “Everyone chipped in. It was one of those things that made you proud to be a human being.”

“We are a small rural community,” Mr Hodnett said. “But in our minds we’re as important as all the rest.”

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