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The battle between 'Lehinch' and 'Lahinch' to go to public vote

Locals hope to bring their ‘A’ game back to end row that begun five years ago when road signs were changed without consultation.

The town currently known as Lehinch, Co Clare - a name many locals wish to revert to 'Lahinch'.
The town currently known as Lehinch, Co Clare - a name many locals wish to revert to 'Lahinch'.
Image: Shutterstock/diak

RESIDENTS LIVING IN the Co Clare town currently called Lehinch may soon get a chance to vote on whether to put the ‘a’ back into the seaside resort’s name.

The town, popular with golfers and surfers, has been popularly known as Lahinch since the 1850s, but the name was changed on official road signs to Lehinch around five years ago.

The change arose from the town appearing as Lehinch on the Placenames Database of Ireland and on Ordnance Survey Maps.

However, many locals abhorred the change, with some going so far as to cover up the ‘e’ with an ‘a’ in signs around the village.

Now, following a decision by a Clare County Council Special Policy Committee (SPC) on the issue, councillors are looking to set aside funds in 2018 for a local vote in Lehinch/Lahinch on the issue.

Cllr Bill Slattery (FG), a native of the town, said yesterday:

People are very annoyed the way the name was changed in the road signs. As far I can recall, Lahinch with an ‘a’ has always been Lahinch.

Chair of the SPC committee, Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) said: “It is a joke that the spelling is not right and is important that the spelling is put right.”

Cllr Cooney said that other towns and villages have been affected with misspellings on official road signs and that the planned plebiscite for Lahinch will be a pilot project with more to follow.

lehinch Source: Dave Flynn

Ballyvaughan/Ballyvaghan

Local hotelier Michael Vaughan said that Ballyvaughan lost its ‘u’ in road signs and Miltown Malbay got an extra ‘l’ in the changes made to signs five years ago. In the same sweep of changes to signage on the N67 in 2011, Ennistymon became ‘Ennistimon’ on road signs.

Mr Vaughan said that the name change to ‘Lehinch’ “is something that has annoyed the citizens of Lahinch from the day it was altered without consideration for the businesses and it has caused nothing but confusion”.

Owner of Vaughan’s Lodge hotel, Mr Vaughan said: “For guests coming to the hotel every summer, it is probably the most asked question I get – ‘What is the story with the two names? Which is correct?’ That kind of confusion shouldn’t be anywhere.”

He added:

I have been tempted to put a sign up in front of the hotel saying ‘It is Lahinch!’

Mr Vaughan said that until the name is changed, the manual changes made by some locals to the ‘Lehinch signs’ around the resort will continue.

He said that the name change has particularly affected long time residents of Lahinch. He said: “They feel very slighted by it. It is something that has happened to them without their asking. When officialdom changes names like this, there should be widespread consultation.”

‘At the heart of the Irish psyche’

Mr Vaughan said that the controversy around the name change “is a salutary lesson when people make changes, there should be consultation because you are talking about people’s sense of place and that is something that goes to the heart of the Irish psyche”.

Mr Vaughan said that it will be money well spent to put the ‘a’ back into the name. He said: “Whatever it costs to change it back, the authorities deserve to have to pay it.”

The estimated costings around the name change to Dingle-Daingean Uí Chúis from a 2006 plebiscite were put at at least €10,000 at the time.

A spokesman for Clare County Council said yesterday that it is not possible yet to provide an approximate cost on the vote to a proposed name change. He said that such costings will be considered following the passing of a Council resolution on the issue.

A stunning new Irish film looks at why Co Clare is a Mecca for the world’s top surfers>

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About the author:

Gordon Deegan

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