Improvement Works at Strandhill & Rosses Point
Today in 2023, the construction of the upgrade of Rosses Point Sewerage Scheme is at an advanced stage with a scheduled date for completion in two months’ time in September. The upgrade will see the collection of all wastewater effluent in the village to a centrally located pumping station from where it will be transferred to the wastewater treatment plant in Sligo for treatment and disposal. When completed, this will eliminate discharges of sewage directly into the channel at Rosses Point and is the final phase of an overall plan to clean up Sligo Bay following on from the upgrade in recent years of Strandhill Sewerage Scheme and prior to that the construction of the Sligo Wastewater Treatment Plant at Finisklin. These are all positive developments from a public health and environmental perspective, improving water quality in Sligo Bay, safeguarding Blue Flag status for bathing at Rosses Point and meeting Ireland’s obligations under European Directives.
Public health improvements are not the only public development works planned in 2023 in Strandhill and Rosses Point. Public realm works are being designed to improve the spatial planning of the villages in both Strandhill and Rosses Point to arrive at a more friendly environmental experience for residents and visitors alike. These proposals follow on from the now completed public realm works in Sligo with the enhancement of O’Connell Street, Hyde Bridge, Wine Street and the new pedestrian seated area on Quay Street, close to the Sligo Chamber offices. Indeed, Sligo Chamber has advocated strongly for all these infrastructure upgrades through our role as business representative on the Sligo County Council Strategic Policy Committee for Infrastructure and Environment, our engagement with the Chief Executive, local politicians, TDs and Government Ministers and our budget submissions.
But the Sligo Chamber Board of today is not the first to be making such representations. The Minutes from the Sligo Chamber records of the 1930s and 1940s show that the members were advocating for public health improvements and for infrastructure development, including for the villages of Strandhill and Rosses Point. Issues at that time, almost ninety years ago, were broadly similar to those of today. Plans were being made for sewerage and water facilities in Rosses Point. Development Plans were being made for Strandhill and there were proposals for new bathing facilities, toilets and a pier at Rosses Point as well as the provision of an electricity supply along the road to the Point. All of these plans and proposals exercised the minds of Sligo Chamber from the mid-1930s until after World War II ended in 1945.
We first read about the public works infrastructure deficit in Rosses Point in the Chamber Minutes of 1936. At a General Meeting in July of that year, D.M. Hanley, President in the Chair, the lack of adequate public health infrastructure is discussed. This is seen not only as a health hazard, but also as a barrier to the building of new houses. There is also a concern about the lack of life-saving equipment at the beach and the need for a boat pier. After discussion,
“It was Proposed by: D.M. Hanley
Seconded by A.H. Henderson: That the Secretary be instructed to write to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health urging upon him the necessity of having a sewerage laid and extending the freshwater main along the new road leading to the sea at Rosses Point with a view to inducing persons to build houses along the road, also to point out that there are no sanitary arrangements or a fresh water supply or any life-saving appliances adjacent to the Bathing Beach.
The Secretary also to write to the Commissioners of Public Works requesting them to erect on the foreshore at Rosses Point a small boat pier similar to the one erected at Coney Island.
Copies of the letters to be sent to the local T.Ds., the County Council and the County Sligo Board of Health asking for their co-operation in the matter”.
At the next Chamber Meeting on the 3rd of November 1936, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, the Secretary, J.A. McLoghry, reads replies received in connection with the provision of water and sewerage schemes at Rosses Point from the local T.Ds., the Board of Health, County Council and Department of Local Government and Public Health. The Secretary advised that the matter is now in the hands of the Sligo Board of Health and has been referred by them to R.J. Kirwan, County Engineer, Sligo County Council for his report. However, it becomes evident that nothing is done by the public authorities, ultimately resulting in the Chamber taking action directly themselves.
Two and a half years later at the Ordinary General Meeting of the 28th of March 1938, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, the question of the urgent need of the water mains and sewers along the new road at Rosses Point was again discussed. The Secretary was directed to write to the County Board of Health requesting them “to give the matter their prompt and sympathetic consideration”. Another eighteen months passes and the “Sanitary Arrangements” at Rosses Point are once again a discussion item. The members decide at the General Meeting of the 16th of October 1939, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, to go to meet the County Engineer, Mr. Kirwan, on the matter and request him “to have the work included in a relief scheme”. It is also decided to bring before Mr. Kirwan “the necessity of providing a turning space for Buses and Motors at the end of the new road”. Another four months pass. At the General Meeting of the 20th of February 1940, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, the members decide to again urge upon the Board of Health the necessity of having bathing shelters erected at Rosses Point and Strandhill and also the great need for “Lavatory and Water accommodation near the foreshore at Rosses Point”. It is evident with the passing of over four years that the authorities are not making any meaningful progress in these matters. Clearly frustrated, the Chamber now decides to take matters into their own hands.
At the next General Meeting on the 25th of April 1940, T.J. Harrington, in the Chair, (an apology having been received from the President, D.M. Hanley), the question of the development of the local seaside resorts at Rosses Point and Strandhill is the first item on the Agenda. The Secretary, J.A. McLoghry, informs the meeting that the Dáil has recently passed a Bill setting up a Tourist Board which among other things is empowered to make grants for the development of seaside resorts. He understands that representatives of the Tourist Board would be visiting Sligo during May. He goes on to advise that there is a Development Committee in Strandhill and they have prepared plans and estimates for improvements at Strandhill and he suggests that similar steps should be taken for the development of Rosses Point. There follows a lengthy discussion. The members then agree that “Mr. John C. O’Hara, B.E., be employed to draw up plans and estimates for the erection of lavatories, shelters, seats and the extension of the water service and sewerage at Rosses Point”. The following Committee from the Chamber was appointed to assist Mr.O’Hara: – Messrs D.M. Hanley, H.C. Lyons, F. Wynne, W.D. Peebles, T.P. Toher, T.J. Harrington and the Secretary. It was also decided to request the co-operation of the local representatives of the Irish Tourist Association, Messrs P. O’Hara, T.C., and J. Mc Goldrick, C.C.
Progress in the development of proposals proceeds with pace. One month later at the Chamber Meeting of the 30th of May 1940, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, Mr. J.C. O’Hara is also in attendance. The Secretary advises that Mr. O’Hara has with him a map of the area at Rosses Point for which development is proposed. Mr. O’Hara outlines to the members present the places marked out for the suggested improvements including “Ladies and Gents’ Toilet, shelters, seats and the extension of water and sewerage”. These are drafts of the proposals proposed to put before the Tourist Board when they visit Sligo. The President suggests that Saltwater Baths be included in the scheme and this was approved of. Mr. Lyons and Mr. Peebles suggest the Board of Health be requested to extend the water mains and sewerage and it was decided that “a Deputation wait on them in connection with matter”.
Following some further discussion, it was agreed that Mr. O’Hara proceed to draw up plans of the proposed public health improvements and prepare a detailed cost estimate of the proposed works. Mr. O’Hara completes his work and it is assumed the proposals he prepared were put before the Tourist Board on their visit to Sligo and also copies sent to the Sligo Board of Health and to the County Engineer, Mr. Kirwan. Probably indicative of the times, it is fully three years later before Mr. O’Hara submits a bill for his work. At the Ordinary Meeting of the Chamber on the 7th of June 1943, F. Nally, Vice-President, in the Chair (Apologies were received from D.M. Hanley, (President) and J.W. Mac Mullen), we learn of Mr. O’Hara’s bill. The Secretary, J.A. McLoghry puts before the meeting the Account he received from Mr. John C. O’Hara, B.E., for his fees for preparing plans and cost estimates in connection with the proposed improvements at Rosses Point. “The fees are made up at 11/2% on the estimated expenditure of £2,970, which amounts to £44.10.0. Mr. O’Hara reduced this amount to £30.0.0”. Having considered the amount of work involved, the members decide to offer Mr. O’Hara £15.15.0 in settlement of his account. (There are many engineering and professional services practitioners today who know that sinking feeling when a client arbitrarily decides to reduce a fee for work carried out without any understanding or appreciation of the input involved).
The receipt of the bill from Mr. O’Hara reignites the Chamber to pursue the development works in Strandhill and Rosses Point. A Meeting is called for two weeks later with a specific item on the Agenda, “To consider the proposed development of Rosses Point and Strandhill”. After discussing the matter at the Meeting on the 17th of June, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, “it was decided that a deputation comprising the President, (D.M. Hanley), H.C. Lyons, F. Wynne, W.J. Tolan (Mayor) and the Secretary interview the County Manager and the County Surveyor on the matter”.
What transpired is unclear. However, we do get to learn from the General Meeting of Tuesday the 29th of February in the following year, 1944, D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, that the sewerage scheme in Rosses Point is finally going ahead. At the Meeting, the Secretary, J.A. McLoghry, read a letter from the County Manager stating that he had consulted with the County Medical Officer of Health regarding the provision of a sewerage scheme for Rosses Point. “Dr. Kirby, Co. M.O.H. stated it would be a major post-war scheme”.
The approval to proceed with the sewerage scheme in Rosses Point as a post-war scheme was notified to the Chamber by the County Manager in 1944, a full eight years after the Chamber wrote to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health urging him to have a sewerage scheme laid because of the public health hazard. The Chamber instruction to the Secretary to write to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health was made on this day, Monday the 17th of July, on this week in 1936.
Researched and written by Conor McCarthy
Supported by the Sligo Chamber Centenary Committee:
- Catherine Maguire – Admin & Photographic Research
- Geraldine Courtenay – Creative Direction
- Aidan Doyle – Review & Publication
The next Article in the series commemorating The Centenary of Sligo Chamber and entitled
“Shoe Factory Fire” will be released on the 31st of July 2023.
#Sligo Chamber Centenary