Concern over deterioration of Barna Pier

Shauna Cunningham and Frank Fahy with Noel Grealish TD at Barna Pier. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Barna resident Frank Fahy has called on the Galway County Council to carry out maintenance work on the run-down Barna Pier. Mr Fahy described a number of issues that need to be addressed and despite workers being sent out in recent weeks to work on the pier, Mr Fahy thinks they are only “papering over the cracks.”

“I’ve been plugging away at this thing for the best part of two years. From my point of view, what they are doing is they’re papering over the cracks. They’re doing a small bit now and a small bit later but nobody is actually tackling what the problem is,” he said.

There are two major issues in the eyes of Mr Fahy, namely two abandoned boat wrecks, one of which is built from timber, that have been moored at the pier for a number of years, and an unguarded culvert, both of which are dangerous.

“There are rotting timbers on the boat. It is absolutely disgusting in real life. When the tide gets high, the rubbish from the bottom of the ship comes up more or less to the top and you can see plastic bags that people have thrown in. You can see beer cans, nappies, all sorts of health and safety issues rising to the top and there’s a stink off it as well.”

Barna is an attractive tourist destination and is situated on the Wild Atlantic Way, making O’Grady’s restaurant, located on the pier, a popular spot for local tourists to stop and sample the local cuisine.  Mr Fahy is concerned that the pier, in its current condition, will tarnish tourist’s views of both Barna, and the Wild Atlantic Way.

“The problem with the ship is that teenagers step in to the boat to go fishing and one of their legs are going to go down through the rotting timber and when it does, they’ll either fall right down to the bottom, and there are rats at the bottom, or they will cut themselves. And not only the local teenagers, you’ll have teenage tourists from America coming taking photographs of each other on it. They don’t realise how dangerous it is.”

“What they photograph is the most ugly scene that you could ever transmit over to America, or anywhere else from a tourism point of view. We’re not asking for huge fortunes, we’re just asking for a bit of maintenance. I’m not even asking them to remove the ships, I’m just asking them to make it up to health and safety standards,” he said.

The issue surrounding the culvert (an open water pipe), is that there is no grill over it. There is a stream that runs through central Barna and it comes out at Barna Pier. A number of years ago, the culvert was created to divert some of the stream under the walkway which leads down to the water, and to release the water in to the harbour at a different point.

Damage on Barna Pier facing the sea

A small collie dog was sucked in to the culvert in the past  and dragged along the pipe. By the time the collie had emerged from the pipe, it had drowned: “If it can happen to a collie dog it can happen to a small child. If a child slipped in there they’re finished. Nobody has done anything about it,” Mr Fahy said.

Mr Fahy also said that the capping stones on the wall of the pier need to be secured, and a number of holes in the harbour wall that need to be filled. “A County Council engineer needs to come out and give the whole place a thorough looking at and they’re not doing that,” he concluded.