The popular town has taken a hit since the pandemic began. But now the Council has closed some streets on Sundays to help maximise safe footfall. Martha Brennan reports
KINSALE is known for its gourmet restaurants and quaint shops, but the town has taken a hit since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
In a bid to gain traction for local businesses, and allow for ‘al fresco’ dining, Cork County Council is pedestrianising parts of the town on Sundays for the duration of summer.
Since the first official closures of Main Street, Emmet Place and Crowley’s Quay to traffic, locals have had mixed reviews about the new system.
Marian Boyd has worked at Kinsale Bookshop for over seven years, and was delighted to see the store re-open last week. She said the locally-owned shop has been ‘ticking away’ since re-opening, and hopes the pedestrianisation of Main Street will help neighbouring businesses stay afloat.
‘It was hard to tell if it was making a difference on the first day, but we’ve been busy and if it helps the restaurants, then I’m happy. I think they were hit the hardest.’
Only time will tell, she admitted. ‘We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes, there has been some judgement on the closures and I can see why it might upset some people. Maybe a one-way system might work better, but at least the idea is a start and they’re trying something new.’
However, not everyone is completely satisfied with the closures, and many think the signs blocking the roads are too jarring. Some business owners also said they had an issue with people thinking the road was completely shut, instead of just closed to traffic, which may have affected business. Colm Dalton of Dalton’s pub called the closures ‘a work in progress’ and said that it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.
Tracy Keoghan of the Lemon Leaf Café also called the closures ‘a work in progress’, and agreed that the ‘closed’ signs could be worded a bit better. Tracy, who is also a resident on Main Street, said that she is being affected by the closures in many ways and hopes the Council will take on suggestions she has put forward.
‘We need to make it look continental and appealing. Even some ivy around the signs or planters, like they had originally suggested, would work better.’
The decision to temporarily close the roads was made under Project ACT, the Council’s programme to support communities impacted by Covid. As well as the road closures, some street parking has also been removed so that businesses can safely serve food to tables on their footpaths.
If the temporary closures are successful, the Council may consider other locations in the future.
From Sunday, July 5th to Sunday, September 27th the following roads are closed to traffic from 8am to 6pm on Sundays: Main Street (including Market St) from Upper O’Connell Street, and Market Square to Emmet Place and Crowley’s Quay.