Wet Killarney covers its options

Main Street: could be covered
Main Street: could be covered

Special overhead umbrellas could keep the rain off shoppers on Main Street

THE roof could finally be closing in on Killarney where an innovative system to combat the notorious weather is again being discussed.

A plan has been devised to erect an artificial roof over an entire street to allow people to shop in the rain and to hold more cultural events in the great outdoors.

The matter has been debated for almost seven years but it is now back on the political agenda and it was the subject of a motion at a meeting of Killarney area councillors this Wednesday.

The issue had been long-fingered by council officials who felt they had better use for funds available but Cllr Michael Gleeson has reactivated the proposal and wants action.

“Have the eagerly-awaited umbrellas for Main Street, Killarney been blown off the agenda?” he asked top table officials.

Killarney consultant engineer Paudie O’Mahoney initially devised the clever way to counter persistent rainfall by covering footpaths and large sections of the street with a heavy-duty, tent-like canvas.

He first acted on the matter back in 2008 when it was confirmed that Killarney had the third highest rainfall in Europe and twice the average rainfall of Dublin.

“It would be ideal to encourage a continental culture in Ireland, with streetside cafés and high-end retail stores operating in a wonderfully atmospheric environment,” Mr O’Mahoney said at the time.

“This canopy cover system could be introduced on a trial basis and I can see it taking off all over the country in a very short space of time.”

Cllr Michael Gleeson has since asked officials to seek a costing for portable street covers.

“It’s not just about sheltering people from the rain. It would add greatly to the enjoyment of occasions that take place,” he said.

The council estimated that it would cost approximately €50,000 to provide giant inverted umbrellas and agreed that the move could help increase tourism numbers at a time when an economic boost is needed.

Whether the umbrella are opened anytime in 2015 remains to be seen, however.