By Margaret O’Hanlon
Recently I took a trip down memory lane to my childhood in MacCurtain Street in the 1940s and 1950s. Life in the town was very different then insofar as traffic, pollution etc., was concerned.
There were no big trucks spewing out fumes, coating the buildings with dust and damaging the very structure of the houses in the street as is the case today.
When the Government in their wisdom (which many would claim was misguided) closed our railway line they forced heavy goods lorries on to our roads and sleepless nights from traffic on to the residents of the town who live adjacent to the Cork/Dublin Road. Although our railway station has been very well preserved, the heart of the town has suffered as a consequence of no longer having goods trains to ‘carry the load’.
There were few cars around in those days but despite this factor, there were four premises in MacCurtain Street with petrol pumps/garages: Cavanagh’s at No. 35, O’Connor’s at No. 15/17(?), O’Connor’s at No. 26 and O’Sullivan’s at No. 43.
Nowadays it is necessary to go to the outskirts of the town to find a petrol pump. Some residents have spent a lifetime getting their bread direct from the bakery in MacCurtain Street, but now young and old alike have difficulty in trying to cross the road. It is of course more difficult for the older residents whose limbs are not as agile as they once were.
If they go to the Square to cross on Friday afternoons the traffic lights are switched off and traffic is directed by a member of the Garda Siochana who no doubt feels he/she could be more gainfully employed elsewhere.
The businesses in ‘the street no longer gain anything from traffic – unlike in former times when people would stop to purchase sweets, cigarettes, ice creams, etc., before continuing their journey. Now there is no room to stop and the traffic just thunders through shaking the very foundations of the buildings.
Pupils from the surrounding villages, etc., used to cycle into town to the Secondary Schools:-Christian Brothers, Loreto Convent, Presentation Convent, St Colman’s College, Technical School but now it would not be safe for them to do so due to the volume of traffic.
I met a mother last week at a charity function who asked what was happening to the traffic in Fermoy. She left home in Kilworth with more than ample time to drive her son to St Colman’s to sit his Leaving Certificate examination but got so badly delayed that she thought they would not make it on time. What a start to the day for that young man!
My trip down memory lane has led me to the conclusion that our environment is being seriously damaged by the traffic and it was no doubt with this thought in mind that Cllr Michael Hanley, Chairman of the Fermoy Enterprise Board, requested the Minister for the Environment and Local Government to receive a deputation from TDs, County Councillors and Urban Councillors to discuss the proposed Bypass of Fermoy Town as reported in the May 28, 1998 edition of The Avondhu.
Mr Dempsey’s reply that: ‘With the exception of certain broad quasijudicial functions, I have no role in relation to the implementation of individual schemes on national roads’ defies belief.