A dozen of the eye-catching fixtures have been erected on Nealon’s Quay, a riverside car park close to Youghal town centre and Killarney Town Council is to splash out at least €50k on the devices.
The German-made umbrellas stand in two rows of six and feature dyed acrylic canvas on approximately seven-metre steel poles. They weigh 300g per sq metre and are expected to withstand wind speeds up to 60 kph.
Each umbrella is individually opened by a hand mechanism, in strict rotation to comply with their overlapping design. The process takes about 30 minutes in total.
An overlapping design will feed rainwater into a central drainpipe, with the structures’ main purpose being to counteract inclement conditions and accommodate mini-festivals and markets. “They will also enable us to promote new initiatives at a scenic, town centre location,” says Youghal Chamber PRO Michael Farrell.
The umbrellas should also prove attractive. They are easily visible on the approach from Co Waterford and can be lit at night. It is expected they will opened for long periods during summer.
This partly reflects their role within a larger restoration project being undertaken on the car park. Also costing €150,000, it is being conducted by Youghal Town Council and involves resurfacing flood wall construction and the installation of limestone paving and seating.
That work, by Stephen Byrne Plant Hire & Civil Engineering, Co Wexford and Colin Brennan of Youghal engineers David Kelly & Associates, will be completed later this month.
Following the official opening next month, the Youghal umbrellas’ first outing will be a Christmas market.
South Kerry Independent Alliance councillor Michael Gleeson first floated the idea of giant umbrellas for Killarney a year ago after years of relentless rain when even the President, Michael D Higgins, was drowned out on a visit when the clouds opened as he took the stand to speak outside the town hall on Main Street.
However, it was a fleadh in Cavan some years ago where simple umbrellas proved effective gave the councillor his first idea, and a fact-finding trip to Germany by the council which nailed the idea to the mast, so to speak.
A delegation from the council visited a factory, near Frankfurt, in Germany, which makes mobile coverings for open spaces.
“I am delighted that the officials and my fellow councillors have endorsed the idea. These are very durable and obviously a procurement procedure is being entered into,” Cllr Gleeson said.
The Killarney umbrellas are expected to be unfurled by Easter 2014.
Other town centre enhancements presented by town clerk Michael O’Leary to a meeting of the town council include widening of footpaths, and a one-way traffic system
“The whole idea is to make the town more friendly for pedestrians and to take measures that will enhance the centre,” Mr O’Leary explained.