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'We are literally prisoners in our own houses. We can never sell them; who would buy this misery?'

Homes in Clonlara, Co Clare are under threat of being submerged following flooding in the area this weekend.

Clonlara resident Bridget Kinsella stands in the floodwater that has crept within a few metres of her home
Clonlara resident Bridget Kinsella stands in the floodwater that has crept within a few metres of her home
Image: David Raleigh

BATTLE-WEARY BUT standing firm, Pat Mason declared the only way he’ll be leaving his flood-hit Co Clare home is in a coffin.

“The only we they’ll get me out of here is in a box,” he announced, as he watched the River Shannon slowly swallowing up his garden and driveway.

Springfield, Clonlara, where Mason and his wife Margaret, and twelve other families reside, is submerged.

Ten homes, protected by 7,000 sandbags, are under threat of being flooded.

Despite the best efforts of Clare County Council workers building up the bagged flood defences, residents began pumping water out of their gardens and driveways as the deluge crept in around them.

The ESB, which operates the Parteen Weir located upriver from Clonlara, increased the flow of water to maintain safe levels within the dam.

However, the knock-on effect is large scale flooding along the lower Shannon Basin, including Clonlara.

Two families have been evacuated to a local hotel but Pat Mason has stayed.

Despite previous floods surrounding his home, Mason, with the aid of pumps, his two children, and neighbours, always dug in and managed to keep the water literally inches from his door.

“I’m ready for the battle again,” he said.

Clutching a life-jacket, which he purchased following floods in 1995 and 2009, he showed photographs of his water locked-bungalow.

“The only thing that has changed down here is the colour of our hair,” he said. “We’ve gone grey, but nothing has changed, nothing has been done for us.”

Political promises ‘a waste of time’

Local roads were impassable by car, so farmers ferried water bottles to homeowners cut off from dry land.

Clare County Council delivered portaloos to residents whose septic tanks and water wells were compromised and backed up by the floodwater.

Life-buoys were also secured to posts along roads overwhelmed by the flood, which served to remind how dangerous conditions have become.

IMG_3181 Pat Mason stands in front of his home surrounded by floodwater in Clonlara, Co Clare Source: David Raleigh

“Were in the same situation we have been for years, no improvement whatsoever,” Mason said. Past promises by politicians, he says, have been “a waste of time”.

His neighbour, Bridget Kinsella, also watched on as the river crept nearer to her home.

“I’ve had no sleep, I’m looking out the window at night with a torch to see is the field flooding across from us,” said Kinsella.

“It’s an awful hand of cards. We can’t sell our houses, the council won’t give us the market value for them, we are literally stuck here.

“We are literally prisoners stuck in our own houses and we can never sell. Who would buy this misery? If you gave it away, I don’t think anyone would take it.”

“I’m a widow and I’ve three sons and they are starting to grow up and they are going to move away and get on with their own lives. I certainly don’t want this for the rest of my life.”

IMG_3146 Pumps spurt out water from around a house in Clonlara today Source: David Raleigh

Sean Lenihan, a senior engineer with Clare County Council, said the local authority was hopeful of re-submitting in the next “two to three weeks” a planning application that would see a 2km mud embankment and pumping station built to try to alleviate flooding.

A previous application to build the proposed local flood defence was withdrawn after an objector raised concerns about its ecological and environmental impact.

“We went back to the drawing board to make sure we had addressed all those issues and we are happy that we have,” Lenihan said.

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David Raleigh

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