Saša Novak Uí Chonchúir

Green Party Councillor for Limerick City North

Candidate in Local Elections on 7th June

THOMOND WEIR

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This week I called on the Council to act on removal of two piers of the Thomond Weir as a priority as the current situation presents a serious hazard to life of our young sports people and other less experienced river users.

The Weir from the Fisheries building

Thomond weir was built in 1938 and abandoned 40 years later in 1978. The ownership transferred to the LCCC some 4 years ago.

There is a history of unsuccessful attempts to utilise the structure as a link between parts of the city. While these development proposals have been rejected one after the other, the structure remains as it was and as such presents a health and safety issue for the rowing clubs and an impediment to the potential for tourist activity on the river.

The difficulty that the rowing clubs encounter is the narrow passage between the 19 spans of the weir. Due to the width of the oars, the spans allow very little room for the sculling boats. The length of the oars on the fours and eights require these to be drawn in when passing through the weir and thus making them less stable. This makes the travelling upriver difficult and travelling downriver can be extremely hazardous.

Because of this numerous minor incidents have happened in the past as the crews were having difficulties navigating the narrow arches.

However, serious incidents are also not uncommon. In 1993 a crew were fortunate to avoid drowning when their boat became wrapped around one of the piers and completely destroyed. And more recently, in 2019, a young girl suffered a life changing accident when her boat was swept onto the weir.

Rowing has a long and strong tradition in Limerick. It is undertaken by young and old. It is in our power to make it safe and we should hurry to do so to prevent a similar accident from happening again.

I would very much welcome the development of the Weir as part of the bigger project, either under the scope of the regeneration and connectivity, or a community, civic use development. But these are at best years away.

The Council have commited to carrying out a full structural survey, in addition to the under water survey that has already been completed, and will work towards making the river around the Weir a lot more safe.