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Calls for safety works at Rock of Dunamase as new car park still two years away

Rock of Dunamaise

There have been calls for safety works to be carried out around the Rock of Dunamase following a recent fatality.

On Friday October 7, an American woman was tragically killed after she was struck by a vehicle in the small car park.

She had been on holiday here with her husband, who was also injured, and her two adult daughters.

At a recent meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal District, Fine Gael Councillor Thomasina Connell asked for an update on the proposed new car park at the site.

Dom Reddin of Laois County Council informed the meeting that an agreement is in place with a landowner to purchase a site.

This would be brought before the Council in January 2023 with the sale closed in February and development beginning once funding had been secured.

Cllr Connell welcomed this news and offered her sympathy to the family of the woman who sadly passed away.

She said: “I want to express my sympathy to the lady’s family. I was very distressed to hear about it. I had lodged my motion beforehand.

“I am glad to see the carpark is going ahead. The history there is phenomenal and I don’t see why we don’t do more with it.

“I know there are a lot of costs associated and I am not surprised that we need to do a lot of studies, that’s standard in a project like this.

“It is slow progress. I hope that in summer 2024 there will be parking up there so we can make a real go of this as a tourist stop. It is one of the highlights of Leinster, let alone Laois.”

A further discussion among the Councillors resulted in calls for measures to make the roads safer up there to be introduced.

Cllr Willie Aird said: “We need to put some measures in place. Put something in place for safety, there are narrow roads there.

“If money needs to be got, do so, for remedial work. We are talking a while before a car park if archaeological digs are needed first.

“There is a huge dampener out there with residents, with this very serious incident.

“All our work to bring people there, and it is great to see them stop, but this fatality is difficult to comprehend. Residents are very upset.

“There are huge crowds up there. Because of Covid it was discovered by a lot of people, and also because of our promotion of it on brochures throughout Ireland and with tourism companies.”

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald also called for the area to be cleaned up with brambles and briers needing to be cut.

While Cllr Noel Tuohy described the site as a ‘jewel we have yet to properly unveil’.

SEE ALSO – Update provided on the status of two houses that were burned out in a Laois estate

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.