A couple who were left traumatised when a car hit their home last year say they live in constant fear of speeding traffic on their narrow street. Neighbours echo their fears but pleas for traffic calming measures have been unsuccessful.
A car embedded itself in the home of Mary and Jerry Keohane on Youghal’s Ashe Street late at night, last July. The structural damage reportedly caused Mary to be left trapped, terrified and alone in the property for 90 minutes.
The couple only returned to their home last Christmas during which time Mary had developed panic attacks.
Jerry has since suffered two seizures which doctors say may be attributable to stress. He had to leave his Community Employment Scheme and is on medication and sleeps poorly. He says the roadway has long been “highly dangerous”.
Ashe Street runs parallel to Youghal’s main street and is continually used as a short cut by drivers to avoid congestion and as a school run. It stretches over 100 metres with a 10-metre section where the Keohanes reside too narrow for vehicles to pass. The section is lined by houses on one side and a low wall bordering wasteland on the other, with no footpaths, bollards or signage.
“Some drivers accelerate to avoid meeting cars coming against them,” Mary suggested.
She recalled seeing a young mother with a baby strapped to her chest “practically pinned against a house” as a driver passed by.
Drivers reversing have frequently collided with houses, it emerged. Emma Hennessy who runs a crèche on the corner of the street had to relocate a drainpipe due to continued collisions.
Another neighbour, 90-year-old Kitty Cashman said she is “very nervous” walking the road since a passing car struck her handbag. Two weeks ago, a 40ft lorry was wedged for two hours on the section, demolishing Ms Cashman’s Sky dish which cost her €150 to replace.
In the same incident, Mary Keohane was again trapped in her house. “It was like the nightmare had returned,” she said. “I literally cried.”
At an East Cork municipal district meeting two months ago, a council official advised Cllr Mary Linehan-Foley that a one-way system would encourage speeding on the road. He also felt there was insufficient room for a footpath and that speed ramps would create a trip hazard for pedestrians.
The engineer said where people were “universally discomforted, it becomes a low-cost safety issue and where a percentage of drivers are behaving recklessly it’s a Garda matter”.