Clare village on the frontline in the battle against Shannon floodwater

THE neighbourhood of Springfield just outside Clonlara village in south east Clare is in the forefront of the battle against the raging lower Shannon.

Clare village on the frontline in the battle against Shannon floodwater

Other nearby villages, including Castleconnell and Montpelier on the Co Limerick side, are also going into flood lockdown with booms being erected and sandbags ferried in to fill the breaches.

In Springfield, the locals along with workers from Clare County Council, Civil Defence and reinforcements from the army’s 12th Battalion at Sarsfield Barracks in Limerick joined ranks to fight back the flood threat.

The Mason family own three of the four homes most at risk John Mason, his wife Geraldine and their son Seán, aged 18, were blockaded in their property by rising waters.

“I have remained in the house to help man the pumps with all the people helping us, putting up sandbags, while my wife and son have moved out,” said John.

The scene in south east Clare shows the extent of the flooding. Picture: Eamon Ward
The scene in south east Clare shows the extent of the flooding. Picture: Eamon Ward

His mother Nora’s house is also in the high-risk category. Mrs Mason, 86, left after the 2009 flood and never returned. Her daughter, Gerardine Quinlivan, said: “My house is higher up and we are all just hanging in there at the moment.”

She has been able to get in and out of her home having been supplied with a pair of waders by county councillor Michael Begley.

Mr Begley said: “I went into Limerick this morning and bought about six pairs of waders. I got them in a fishing tackle shop and they will help some people get in and out of their properties.”

Another family —Mike Hogan his wife, Liz and their four children — were evacuated by boat, as access had been cut off since the weekend.

Mr Begley said: “No house has been flooded yet, due to the sandbagging and the use of pumps. One house is under a high threat right now; three others are under lesser threat and a further 10 are also in the threat zone due to rising waters.”

Ger Mulqueen and his dog Lassie from Dooras, Co Clare, using a boat yesterday to attend to his farm. His house is cut off by flood water. Picture: Eamon Ward
Ger Mulqueen and his dog Lassie from Dooras, Co Clare, using a boat yesterday to attend to his farm. His house is cut off by flood water. Picture: Eamon Ward

Limerick accountant, Barry Downes, aged 46, his wife Clare and their son, Jimmy, aged seven, live in a spacious bungalow in the risk zone. With a team of others, he was working flat out yesterday to sandbag his home.

“We understand there will be a lot of water coming down over the next 48 hours and we are working hard to put in a foundation of sandbags to save the property. We have put a few hundred sand bags in place around the house,” he said.

“We are putting in pumps and this pumping out of water will be a never-ending process until the waters recedes.

“With additional rain, the water will begin to impose and we have been told it will happen imminently.”

Mr Downes said the community had rallied around the families whose houses are under threat.

Evan, John, and Jason Quinlivan with John Mason putting sandbags at the gate of 86 year old Nora Mason’s house in Springfield, Clonlara in south east Clare. Picture: Eamon Ward
Evan, John, and Jason Quinlivan with John Mason putting sandbags at the gate of 86 year old Nora Mason’s house in Springfield, Clonlara in south east Clare. Picture: Eamon Ward

“I had not seen some of the neighbours for weeks or months, and yet everybody has come out and everybody is willing to lend a helping hand. Likewise, when my property is secured with the sandbags and pumps, I will be moving on to help with the next house.

“We are here since 2004 and we had a few blissful years before being hit by the 2009 flood. Now just before Christmas with a seven-year-old son it’s quite stressful. Right now its all about this operation and getting what needs to be done, done,” he said.

“Then we’ll have to take a decision if we have to stay or leave, because if the flood reaches a certain level we will have no drinking water or water for sanitation. There’s a lot of stress building up,” he said.

The stress and strain of wading in and out of their home at Springfield, Clonlara, became too much for the Hogan family. Clare County Council has provided them with accommodation in Limerick hotel Pier One.

Mike Hogan, his wife Liz and their children Sarah, 26, Mark, 18, Sean, 17 and Aoife, 12, were evacuated by a Civil Defence boat. While the home was not penetrated by flood waters, they had to wade through nearly a half kilometre in floods before reaching the family car.

Philip Quinlivan trying to keep his pump clean and draining flood water in Springfield, Clonlara in east Clare. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22
Philip Quinlivan trying to keep his pump clean and draining flood water in Springfield, Clonlara in east Clare. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22

Liz said: “Sarah is working and the two boys attend St Munchins in Limerick and Aoife goes to Laurel Hill. They missed school one day due to the situation. The boat had a problem getting through due to the conditions. So we decided to move out until things return to normal.”

Clare County Council executive engineer, Pat Henche,y is overseeing the Springfield alert. With 4,000 sandbags already in place, he said: “We started with the first three houses most at risk. When they are finished we will move on to the next three and continue as long as necessary, depending on how high the water rises.”

“It is great today that the release of water by the ESB from Parteen Weir will remain the same as yesterday at 375 cubic meters per second. We have put in place about 4,000 sandbags between yesterday and today,” he said.

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