Businesses in an east Cork town say a street renovation scheme in the town centre timed to coincide with the peak summer season may result in closures or job cuts.
The works involve limestone re-paving at Youghal’s Barry’s Lane, a 30m pedestrian route between the harbour-side tourist office and the Clock Gate tower on the main street.
Famously, the area was the location of John Huston’s opening scenes to, which was filmed in the summer of 1954.
The €150,000 repaving scheme, funded by the Department of Heritage’s Historic Towns Initiative 2018 programme, is set to extend to a section of the main street at a later date.
The businesses, most of whom trade off the main street, say they fully support the scheme, but not the timing.
They claim they were not consulted about the works schedule and received short advanced notice of the commencement.
The shop owners believe the scheme could have been conducted in smaller stages or else either side of the main July/August trading period.
They are particularly annoyed that, within weeks of commencing, work ceased for more than two weeks prior to the August bank holiday.
Moby Dick bar proprietor Kevin Linehan, whose premises has lost adjoining parking spaces, says most traders in the area are “very upset” about the situation.
The traders say that, despite a narrow corridor facilitating access to the main street, the general upheaval is deterring people from the area, particularly nearby coach passengers. Luigi Camilleri, whose Bella Roma restaurant employs 10 staff, said his side entrance from the lane to a 40-seat outdoor dining area is inaccessible.
Normally attracting a steady footfall from coaches and festivals, his restaurant now sits largely empty.
Mr Camilleri said the closure cost him €3,000 over the Queen of the Sea festival alone, and more than €1,000 weekly, with trade almost halved.
I could well close or have to reduce staff,” he warned.
The restaurateur fears being unable to meet year-end bills and hopes the council may consider some rate compensation for affected traders.
Contacted by Mr Camilleri, local TD David Stanton received clarification from Cork County Council that funding was conditional on the scheme being completed by year’s end. The council said, despite a week-long delay due to archaeological issues, Barry’s Lane should be completed by the end of August.