Rowena Gahan says the problem with her chimney is so bad that she takes her one-and-a-half year old son out of the house as much as possible, to prevent him from breathing in smoke. And, when she is home, she lights the fire as little as possible and uses her gas heater instead.
Rowena says she hasn’t lit the fire in the past month, because the problem with her smoking chimney at her home at No. 6 Coolmona in Fermoy, has got worse.
When she first rang Fermoy Town Council about the problem, she says they told her to get the chimney cleaned. She did that but says it was no better. Since then she’s been asking them to resolve the problem of smoke coming back down the chimney into her small sitting room by fitting a cowl to the chimney pot.
Rowena says the problem is particularly bad when it’s windy, and, on those days she doesn’t light the fire at all. The fact that her house is in an elevated part of the town with a wide open space across the road from it, is part of the reason her chimney blows smoke back down instead of out, she believes.
The remedy isn’t an overly expensive one, she points out. Her dad has even offered to fit the cowl to the chimney pot himself if the council will provide it. Rowena recently priced the cowls with the intention of buying it herself, having it fitted and having the cost deducted from her rent, however the cost of over €100 was prohibitive, she says, on her income.
Apart from coal dust covering clothing, furniture and fittings when the chimney smokes, Rowena says she’s afraid her young child will develop respiratory problems.
“It’s ridiculous, it’s going on too long now,” the young mother says. She told The Avondhu some other residents on the estate have problems with their chimneys too.
A number of slates are also loose on the back of her small corner house on the local authority estate. They were to have been fixed last year, her father David claims, but the council did not return to fix them as promised.
He wants to see the problems resolved for his daughter and young grandchild so that they can make full use of their home.
Attempts by The Avondhu to contact the relevant officials at the town hall about the matter this week proved unsuccessful.