Solutions are needed to Castlemartyr's traffic woes

On the main route between Cork and Waterford Castlemartyr has long seen significant traffic volumes and congestion. Chris Dunne speaks to local representatives and traders about the inpact it has on the area.
Solutions are needed to Castlemartyr's traffic woes
The village of Castlemartyr. Traders in the area have raised the issue of heavy traffic and the lack of parking. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Despite the upgrading of the pathway through the village of Castlemartyr and the new timing of the traffic lights; long delays still continue on the primary route between Cork and Waterford.

“A Castlemartyr relief road to alleviate traffic congestion is badly needed,” says David Stanton TD Cork East Fine Gael and Minister of State at the Department of Justice.

“There is an urgent need to examine potential bypassing of the village by constructing a short relief road," he said. 

An average of 22,000 vehicles passes through the cross in the village every day.

“The delays can be substantial in the morning and evenings from all directions,” says Minister Stanton.

“Due to its location on the main route from Cork to Waterford and the port of Rosslare, a considerable volume of freight transport passes through the village resulting in large tailbacks in both directions in the mornings and evenings. This has compounded traffic congestion and substantially increased commuting times which is only set to get worse if Brexit goes ahead."

"A motorway from Cork to Waterford would solve the problems but such a project is not planned at present and even if it were; it would take many years to develop.”

Resident and owner of House Art and Gift Shop in Castlemartyr, Orla McGovern, says that limited parking in the village is a big problem and it should be addressed.

“The huge volume of traffic is one thing,” says Orla, who is a member of Castlemartyr Community Council.

“Trucks can be heard rumbling through the village from 5.30am onwards. I live on the main street next door to the shop. You can set your alarm from the noise of the stream of freight traffic driving past every morning,” says Orla.

“But the lack of parking in the village is an even bigger problem.

Commuters working in Cork, who have every right to park along the main street, park outside business premises all day so the main street in Castlemartyr is jammed up. It is bumper to bumper and nobody can stop off and park their car. Businesses along the street are being hampered due to lack of parking spaces.” 

Cork East TD David Stanton said a motorway from Cork to Waterford would solve traffic problems but such a project is not planned at present and even if it were; it would take many years to develop. Pic: Sam Boal/
Cork East TD David Stanton said a motorway from Cork to Waterford would solve traffic problems but such a project is not planned at present and even if it were; it would take many years to develop. Pic: Sam Boal/

Motorists are reluctant to stop in Castlemartyr if they can’t park easily.

“Passing trade is badly affected because of the lack of parking,” says Orla. 

“People who might stop off in the village for a coffee or for their groceries, and see no parking available, will just drive on. We’ve engaged and spoken with Cork County Council, bringing the parking problem to their attention. It is our first priority,” says Orla.

“Castlemartyr is also involved in the 2020 Community Enhancement Project along with villages, Cloyne, Shanagarry and Whitegate.

"Hopefully, we can create another parking solution offering dedicated parking to residents and visitors alike.” 

Would a bypass affect business on the main street of Castlemartyr?

“Some people are afraid of a bypass. I’m not,” says Orla.

“Towns like Enniscorthy have benefited from a bypass. And they are thriving. People can come and shop local with ease. Visitors can stop off in the town without any delays. A bypass was an option for Castlemartyr back in 2007-2008. But nothing went ahead.

Castlemartyr and Killeagh have endured so many road works recently that affected both villages on the N25. The closure of the slip road at the Two Mile Inn caused a huge build up of traffic. We’ve been very patient. We need a break.”

Down the street, across the road, brisk business in Cliffords Butcher’s has slackened at peak time in the evening.

“The tail-backs are so long, reaching back to Ballintotis, that people are delayed on their journey home by at least 20 minutes,” says Eileen Clifford.

“Nobody is going to stop off to get meat for their dinner when they are already delayed, even if they could park outside the shop.

“Changing the sequence of the traffic-lights made no difference. The road closure at the Two Mile Inn outside Midleton, only added to the congested traffic problems,” says Eileen.

Eileen’s co-worker, Anthony O’Brien, says local minor roads are experiencing an unusual level of traffic.

“And it cuts our regular customers commute past the village,” says Anthony.

“Commuters want to avoid the tail-backs of traffic which is at its worst from 5pm onwards. So they take another route home, through Mogeely or Ladysbridge.” There is no let-up of traffic through Castlemartyr village all day.

“The constant build-up of traffic is all day every day,” says Eileen.

“I am 15 years working here and when I look out the window, I never see a gap in the traffic. There is never a quiet time. School’s out now.

But at 9am and at school collection times, 2pm and 3pm; it is just chaotic.” 

5.7 kilometres and five minutes down the road, Brian Barry, co-director of the Old Thatch pub, with partner Debbie Walsh, says that while a bypass wouldn’t be of any benefit to businesses or residents in the village, speed ramps and more adequate parking would solve a lot of the traffic problems.

“A bypass would be detrimental to our village,” say Brian.

“Passing trade is vital, but there isn’t enough parking provided for people. The speed that some drivers drive through the village is frightening. Often, they don’t make the bad bend because there is no warning sign for drivers approaching the bend. There have been four accidents here in three months."

"The Church wall has been knocked once and the pole outside knocked three times. I think speed ramps, like in the village of Castlelyons, would help matters a lot. I have four children, two school-going children. And trying to cross the road to school in the mornings and afternoon is lethal. I often think the lollipop lady, Mrs Lenihan, takes risks stopping the fast traffic to let the children cross the road. Drivers already delayed coming through Castlemartyr seem to be in a rush and go faster.” 

Minister David Stanton hopes that any bypass proposals will be strongly considered.

“A relief road of just a few kilometres in length would go a long way to eliminate traffic congestion in Castlemartyr village. To this end, I have been lobbying Transport Infrastructure Ireland and Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, TD, seeking that such a solution be examined as a matter of urgency.” He hopes bypass proposals are strongly considered.

“I hope that any bypass proposals will be strongly considered,” says Minister Stanton.

“A bypass would ensure that there is sufficient road infrastructure to encourage development opportunities in Castlemartyr and to the east, especially in Killeagh and Youghal. Reducing the amount of traffic passing through the village will also improve road safety.”

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