Valley of silence: Concerns over lack of phone or broadband service

Concerned residents of the Black Valley, from left, Susan Tangney, Ann Marie O’Donoghue, Bibi and David McHugh, Catriona O’Donoghue and Jacinta Dillon.
Pictures: Valerie O’Sullivan

IT was the last community in the country to receive electricity in 1976 and now frustrated residents of the Black Valley in Killarney are calling on all agencies to come together to ensure a reliable phone and broadband service is provided as a matter of urgency.

Locals have complained that there is no mobile phone signal in the area while the home phone service currently available does not even enable many residents to dial 999 or 112 for emergency services.

With ever increasing numbers of visitors throughout the year, and the lack of even basic amenities, they have warned that it could result in the lives of residents or visitors being lost.

The concerned locals are also calling for the installation of fibre to the home broadband as promised by the National Broadband Ireland as some residents in the valley were forced to rent premises in Killarney town during the Covid-19 restrictions in order to be able to work from home.

999…what’s your emergency? The residents are highlighting the lack of basic communications services

Spokesperson for the group, Ann Marie O’Donoghue, said they have put forward proposals that National Broadband Ireland should link up with Siro in order to be able to quickly provide a reliable broadband service through the existing ESB network with connection points available from either Moll’s Gap or the Brida Valley.

While noting that work is ongoing by Eir to install new masts in the valley, to enhance phone services, the residents of the close-knit community have called for all service providers to join together to share this infrastructure so that customers can benefit from a reliable service.

“There is a strong community in the valley that is working to develop businesses and facilities, including the local school, and we need proper phone and broadband services as soon as possible to support the long-term viability of our community,” Ann Marie O’Donoghue said.

In addition to this work, the community is also in the process of developing a community managed heritage centre on a site that is being provided by a local farming family.